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
this   year.

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
to   another.

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
waiting   list.

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
fly   freely.

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 &amp; surrogate daughter

earlier   emails and photo links on Tink -