|From: shan lung <shanlung9@y...>
Date: Fri Feb 20, 2004
Subject: Of moas and keas
Sadly, we did not get to see any live moas or live
kakapos when we visited New Zealand over Jan and Feb
I thought I was fortunate to have visited New Zealand
for about four weeks until I went there with my wife.
NZ was so much more lovely than I expected that I ate
my heart out talking with other travelers as they
regaled us with the 3 to 6 to 10 months that they have
spend traveling about in that beautiful land.
Portals that link to Middle Earth and even more exotic
realms of fantasy dotted NZ but lack of time forced us
to be satisfied with just a taste.
My wife Joy has written some of her impressions of
that little trip with a few photos culled from the
thousand odd that she had taken. She writes better
than me. You are all warmly invited to
Enjoy her other reports there as well.
Beautiful as New Zealand is with her mountains,
forests, crystal clear waters cloaking her, my main
memories in later years will be those people and their
fids that have graciously allowed us to visit them and
who so warmly welcomed us.
That more than made up for my dismal failure in
getting a live moa or two to bring back home. I got
to blame the shortage of time that I did not have in
between enjoying ourselves and driving from one place
I also have to report failure in even seeing live
kakapos. It seems that whatever is left of them are
now fiercely protected on a small island where
hopefully they spend their time in creating even more
kakapos. Friendly as the NZ people are, they kind of
freeze up when visitors express desire to visit that
island. Visits to that island are rightfully tightly
controlled and you got to book way in advance to join
and work in the conservation study group there.
Preference will be given to non NZ visitors thus
bumping NewZealanders themselves even further down the
In traveling around NZ and reading some of the
historical notes of some places, its poignant to read
that just a hundred years ago, travelers complained of
the nuisance to their campsites caused by hundreds of
inquisitive kakapos and kiwis. Notwithstanding there
are now thousands of kakapos that still can be seen,
from very tiny to small to larger all carved from wood
in souvenir shops, they don?t quite feel the same.
In Auckland, we got to meet Solveig who eventually got
to meet us after I mislead her with my description as
to where we were. I had to agree that ?Oakland
road?that we were in sound very much like ?Auckland
road?where she thought we were at. She was even
delighted when she saw us.
She and Phillip introduced us to Phaedrus, their
lovely CAG and apple of their eyes and our eyes.
Their house seem to be build around Phaedrus, the HUGE
cage for him and complex playstation that Phillip
build with ramps up and down so Phaedrus can go as he
pleased. The nooks and clear spaces are then occupied
by sofas, chairs, tables and whatever required by
Tinkerbell has been my only exposure to CAG other than
the grey owned by my friend?s father that made me so
want to have a grey ever since I was 15-16 years old.
Other greys I have seen were in pet shops and of
course, the many pictures of your loved ones.
I was intrigued by him, his shy aloof air about him.
I was fascinated by the dignified way that he walked
about up and down the ramps to his play station. That
is in such contrast to Tinkerbell when she walks. If
Tink walks, she does it in a style reminiscent of the
way French Foreign Legionnaires do their slow
ceremonial march, with the body swaying coupled with
sumo wrestlers stamping their feet. Should Halftail
the Bimbo approached the sofa when she is on it with
me, she would stamp her way over to Bim which is
enough to frighten my poor cat away. Otherwise, Tink
will start chomping on Bim which frightened me as
well. Even if Tink ?walks?on top of shelf and not
intimidating Bim, she does so with a rolling gait,
nothing of the elegance that Phaedrus demonstrated.
We met Melanie and Edward, Mel and Ed for short. They
sailed all the way from England with their family and
anchored near Whangerei. That is yet another part of
NZ that is so beautiful that they fell in love with,
sold their boat, bought ?a small plot of 6 acres?(in
their own words), and started a new life there.
Nicnic, their beloved and lovely Ringneck was in a big
cage, with toys and chewables everywhere. Nicnic was
frustrated having to stay in the cage not able to fly
about. I agree with Mel and Ed that a house with
little grandkids running around and likely to leave
doors open will not be a good place to allow a fid to
We later went over to the house their son Ashley was
completing to water the horses. The last I heard, the
new house was completed, the grandkids will have their
own doors to leave opened allowing Mel and Ed to let
Nicnic fly about and play.
Jennifer met us in Wellington with her lovely daughter
Shannen to guide us over to her lovely house on a hill
overlooking Lower Hutt valley. She told us she used
to sit on the patio and watched part of the filming of
LOTR on the valley floor below.
That was the first time I saw an Alexandrine, her
Dino. Dino lived in obvious harmony with her cats and
dog. Dino had the run of the house and must have been
very satisfied with her own toys as delicate ornaments
and picture frames remained unchewed.
Dino flights were done on level, with her body dipping
slightly up and down that level with her long graceful
tail in unison. As I mentioned in an earlier email,
like dolphins playing in the bow waves of a boat. I
wasn't a very good guest with Jennifer. I was just
too captivated watching Dino as she flew about
trailing her long pastel yellow tail behind her.
Later in the afternoon, we all met up with Linda,
Jennifer's mom, and visited Dennis, the bird whisperer
of Lower Hutt. Dennis had been taking injured birds
lovingly nursing them back to health. Like my friend
in TsaoLing, some of those charges knowing a good
thing when they see one, stayed on. So when Dennis
took us around, a pied magpie flew about us keeping
Dennis in sight.
I have wanted very much to see keas in their natural
surroundings ever since I read that keas may be the
most intelligent of the parrot family.
When we travelled in the South Island, I kept a sharp
lookout for the keas. I was more than prepared to
have my car screen wipers stolen and other 'horror'
stories that keas were reputed to do. While checking
out the Franz Josef and the Fox glaciers, their beauty
did not distract my desire to see the keas so said by
books to frequent those areas. Perhaps I may be too
late, but none were seen. Then when we went by Homer
tunnel on way to Milford Sound, no keas were there.
It was said that the keas gathered there waiting for
handouts from visitors. Just wasn't my luck.
I even stopped the car and waited by the side of the
road at high point to see if keas were around. The
keas, if they were around, were not impressed enough
with my calls of 'kiia kiiiia kiiia' to come to me or
even make themselves visible.
On the way back, we dropped by Jennifer and voiced my
disappointment. The next day, Jennifer together with
Linda and Shannen brought us to Stagland.
Stagland had this little ravine with netting on top
making it a walk-in aviary where keas were kept. I
opened the gate and looked around tensed with
anticipation for the keas and could not see any for a
couple of seconds. I just had this feeling and slowly
raised my gaze. Just above my head and sitting on the
door jamb was this huge massive hunk of dull bronze
green with the most wicked looking scimitar
masquerading as a beak. He was looking down at me
motionless, then I saw the others with him.
I always thought keas were small, maybe like CAGs. To
say they are the size of BGs cannot give the full
picture. Their body were much more stout and massive.
Even though I did not see them in the wild, I was
immensely pleased to have finally seen them.
I went in and stopped. That flock followed me a short
time later, staying on the side of the ravine and
watching me with full eye contact. When they fly, a
flash of beautiful orange under their wings exposed
After some time, I felt that they were as curious
about us as we were about them. I felt that they may
want to make more than just eye contact. Reasoning
that if they were as intelligent as described and
backed by the sense of intelligence I perceived of
them, they would be very unlikely to want to hurt me.
That whatever bad things said about them may be by
people with negative vibes towards them anyway.
I squat down on the path to bring me nearer to the
keas on the side of the embankment. I clenched my
fist and brought the back of the hand slowly to about
6 inches from the largest kea. He looked at me a few
seconds during which I relaxed and calm my mind
thinking just how beautiful he was.
He then moved and bend his head and pressed it on the
back of my hand and hold it to me for a few seconds.
I was deeply moved myself and maintained hand
position. Perhaps he did it to bring his nostrils
nearer to smell me. Perhaps he also wanted to make
such contact with me. Whatever it was, it was one of
those moments you never will forget.
As if cued by him, other keas came to me and pressed
their head on my arm, and my thighs.
After he lifted his head from the back of my hand, he
matched my steady gaze. I softly asked if I can rub
his head and slowly open my hand and raised my finger
to the head. He moved quick as lightning, hold my
finger, firmly pushed it away and released me. I
smiled at myself mentally contrasting that with Tink,
and not withstanding his much bigger size and
horrendously huge wicked looking beak, he was actually
gently than Tink. I overstepped the line, and was
told so in no uncertain way. I clenched my hand and
offered the back to him again. He bend his head,
touched me gently for a second and moved back to look
again at me. As if to let me know there is where it
stood with him.
All too soon, it was really time to go.
Until the next time when I am back.
With warmest regards
Joy - wife, Tinkerbell - CAG & surrogate daughter
earlier emails and photo links on Tink -