Today I killed an emu. It was horrible.

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 3.40.14 pmScreen Shot 2017-09-09 at 3.40.37 pmWesley and I were on our way home from Jurien Bay and were halfway home (it’s a 45 min drive) when suddenly in the blink of an eye a teenage sized/aged emu dashed out in front of the car.  It was only maybe 10 feet ahead when it chose to that exact moment to run across.  I didn’t have enough time to stop before we collided.

This is the only thing I’ve ever hit with a car.  On the way this morning I’d stopped to pull a dead kangaroo off the road and slow down for about 3 separate bobtails as they scuttled across the road.  I was one of those people saving the little creatures or giving them a more dignified resting place (sparing other drivers having to swerve as well).

They say when a moment impacts you emotionally it can slow down and time can feel as though it has come to a stand still – though science explains this is just you reliving the moment.  Today it’s fresh and it only felt like a flash of time maybe 2 seconds – but if I recall this moment and the 25 minutes after I hit the emu in a year or so it might seem like every millisecond can be accounted for.

What plays over the next 25 mins will stay with me for the rest of my days.

I was driving 10km below the speed limit which significantly spared our car from any damage.  We were very lucky.   The bird was not.  It had hit the ground severely and as I cut the engine and pulled over to the side of the road I could see it was sadly still alive and very badly injured.

It was very stressed, breathing heavily and every so often it would thrash and kick it’s legs.  I opened the car door so Wesley could have fresh air as I decided what I was going to do about the dying bird.  I knew I couldn’t leave it in this state.

It would be a long slow death on the hot pavement.  The underside of it’s torso was torn open showing it’s yellow fat and red flesh both exposed through the feathers by the impact of the pavement.  It made me sick to my stomach.

Sadly it also couldn’t walk, but it was trying so hard to get up.  I couldn’t get close but it was going to cause an accident if it stayed where it was.  I called Mike to see what I should do, but no answer.  Then I rang Tessa and she suggested the ranger.

At this point a number of cars had slowed down, and a couple of them had stopped to see if we were ok and took a look at the car and watch the bird closely.  One younger guy was really kind and stayed with me the whole time as we tried to track someone to help the bird.

Eventually a police car rolled up and then two officers came out to see what they could do.

For anyone who deeply loves animals like I do perhaps this is a really good time to exit this story.

The male officer asked if there were any babies, and I said no.  At this point he whipped out his baton and extended it.  I realised he was going to try and stun or kill it with the weapon.  I looked away and said to myself “Jesus christ!” as I heard the dull thud of the two crashing together.  I thought it was all over when I turned to see the officer dragging the bird from the road into the gravel and then bush.

Making sure Wesley was still comfortable I was partly distracted when the sound and shock of three gunshots went off.

There was silence, and then the cars all left.

I got in the drivers seat and sobbed for the dead bird.  I felt just awful.  I know there was nothing I could have done to prevent it from happening and yet I was also relieved that Wesley and I were ok.  If we had come or gone any sooner or later this might not have happened.

Emu’s are beautiful and yet oddly stretched out and quite terrifyingly dangerous if you ever manage to see one up close.  They are not known for their intelligence, and I just wish it had seen the car approach and decided to wait just a second longer.

Have you ever hurt or injured a large animal in your car?  How did it go?  

Obviously I did not take photos – but as I often post pleasing colourful images – I thought I’d include these donkey orchids from a few days ago to sort of soften the horror of what’s happened today.

Pukaha Mount Bruce

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-43-48-pmWesley and I visited Pukaha Mount Bruce this afternoon whilst Mike was helping some friends on a farm nearby.  Mount Bruce is a wildlife restoration centre that focuses on reestablishing endangered and rare New Zealand birds.  The centre spans some 940 hectares of dense native forest and is a beautiful place to hike and enjoy a native forest.

We spent a few hours walking around taking in all the gorgeous colours and sounds.  At the moment the forest is absolutely teeming with cicada.  The sounds of summer calling in the humid air!

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-35-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-37-14-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-08-pm Conservation has been taking place within the park since the 1960’s and is maintained by international volunteers throughout the seasons.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-43-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-55-pmHere you’ll find encounters with endangered (and rare white) kiwi, eels, and quite a few beautiful birds including: kokako, kaka, hihi, takahe, kakariki and whio.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-18-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-27-at-9-56-55-amThe kaka particularly captivate me.  The dark wine colours of their feathers paired with their cheeky personalities make them irresistible to watch.  There are roughly 160 kaka in the forest that are all free to travel and are indeed quite wild.  They have an impressive range of calls…some almost gremlin like and others quite sweet.  screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-40-42-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-41-55-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-42-08-pm

If you are near Masterton, I highly recommend checking this place out.  It’s not to be missed!

The Flax (Harakeke) & The Drunken Tui

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-8-45-20-amMost days when we walk along the river there is always a fluttering of tui around the flax plants.  Watching the tui balance itself just quick enough to dart from frond to frond is quite impressive.  They are stunning little birds with a unique look to them, the plant too is quite striking and looks very closely related to the kangaroo paw plant found throughout Australia.

I’ve not yet managed to capture the lovely birds to highlight here but this is a link to some information and beautiful images of the tui.

Apparently the pollen inside the flax can sometimes ferment, which causes the birds to fly around in a drunken manner.

This morning I took a stroll up our property to check out the bees.  I heard a noise behind me so turned.  A tui was collecting food from a flax plant right in our driveway!  I’d not even noticed that this was a flax plant – when we moved in, it was a huge flower of white that I was positive that was all that lived in that spot.  Whilst the bird appeared sober, I do believe if it were later in the day he would have found it a respectable time to indulge his love for alcohol.

The flax is quite an iconic part of Māori New Zealand culture and trade as it has many important uses.  It is prominently featured in Māori clothing, baskets and was even used as a trade item as it was quite a formidable product for making rope.

Baby Penguins, Hot Springs and Seals

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These photos represent the last leg of our trip up the east coast of the South Island.  We spent time with Val and John on their farm for one night in Invercargill and then began the journey North.

Dunedin was a really interesting city, though we only passed through we did take some time to look at the Albatross breeding grounds and found some adorable little wild penguin chicks hiding in a burrow on the peninsula which was also covered in very lethargic seals.  The colour blue of these babies is stunning.  I love thier hairy, downy backs.

From Dunedin we visited a popular place called Moeraki Boulders, and attempted to get a reservation at the much hyped Fluers restaurant – however we should have called ahead.  The joint was packed, and so we ate at a local pub and settled in for one of our last nights  camping…in really mild weather.  Despite being right on the coast, the breeze was warm and very calm.  Next time we head South we’ll be sure to book in and try out Fluers though, the menu looked so good.

The boulders we saw the following morning, the small cormorant was being pestered by tourists, though I think it was a little baby.  He was literally being petted by children and did not seem to mind.  I loved the foreign almost alien like spheres that dotted the sand.  The lighting and ocean that morning were both quite beautiful.

From here we spent two more nights camping in a really cool spot called “Hanmer Springs”.  The springs were so nice.  Possibly the best we’ve been to, and were settled right in the midst of the woods.  I looooved floating in the water, and eventually Mike had to plead with me to get out.  It was such a great spot.  Mike declared it his favourite place and I think I’d agree for a long holiday it would be a peaceful place to unwind.

Our second night at Hanmer Springs however was slightly less relaxing as an INSANE wind storm rolled in and screamed through the trees around us.  While this normally wouldn’t have been much of an issue, we had placed our tent underneath a rather large and ageing tree that had already lost a few enormous branches.  We both discussed the possibility of a branch falling onto the tent and the thought kept us both up for the majority of the night.

Upon rising, there was a forest fire ablaze a few kilometres away and the only road out was blocked for roughly 6 hours due to the forest fire operation keeping it under control.  The whole town was in a frenzy, police, fire trucks… tourists were everywhere.

Lucky enough our ferry wasn’t headed to Wellington until the following day.  We shot off as soon as the road opened and headed to Picton for one last night of tenting.

The month went by really quickly, and you can see us enjoying one of the last nights in our tent with my robust belly safely keeping our little dude housed and warm.  He’s been kicking quite a bit, and is due to meet us in about 2.5 months.  It seems ages away but…then we’re like not prepared just yet!! haha.

Yesterday Mikes family was so helpful and basically moved us into our home.  We hardly did anything, it was such a nice surprise!  Tess even came around for a snuggle and was very excited.

We’re both not sure she’s clued into my belly yet…