The darkness falls early now. The clocks have gone back: a presager of winter. Time for the migration is almost upon me: 19 days 20 hours and 26 minutes as I write these words. It's just after 4.30 in the afternoon and the sky is dark with rain and my lights are on. Last week I was waking in the dark but now a new experience wakens me with the lighter mornings: a Tui 10 metres from my head. This happened once before when I was staying at Katherine's in Tauranga.
The Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) is an endemic passerine bird of New Zealand. It is one of the largest members of the diverse honeyeater family. The name Tui is from the Maori and is the species' formal common name. The plural is simply 'Tui', following Māori usage. The English name, Parson Bird, has fallen into disuse but came about because at first glance the Tui appears completely black except for a small tuft of white feathers at its neck and a small white wing patch, causing it to resemble a parson in religious attire.
Tui's appear to me to 'talk' constantly and with a very varied vocabulary. Their chatter is generally audible for many tens of metres but their call is audible for a very long way and echoes around the geological bowl in which The Cottage is situated.
So when a Tui in an oak tree 10 metres from your head starts singing the joys of life at the crack of dawn you know about it.
A few days ago I tracked him down and stood underneath the tree and managed a few photos of him.