Saturday, January 1, 2011

"My Land" : Song of the Tui.

Photo taken by Tom Rix. Native New Zealand Tui perching on New Zealand flax. Photo Crop by Samsara.

The "My Land" posts on this site are a series that look at the New Zealand I know. Places, environment, and features that the traveller who takes the time to get off the beaten tourist track will find by exploring more of our natural wonders. To start off the New Year, I wanted to offer you all a really positive post to set the tone for the year...hopefully we all have a great 2011.

Tuis, one of New Zealand's native songbird species, are noted for their iridescent blue and green colours, and their delightful song. At this time of year they will have moved on from feeding from kowhai (Sophora species) trees, our national flower, to seeking nectar in our flowering native flax, or harakeke  (phormium tenax) plants.

The following was written by me- a verse here, another there- as I watched tuis feeding in the kowhai outside our kitchen, and while listening to them singing in the trees at my workshop. One day I showed a few verses to my wife and she thought they were beautiful. I put them together then I recognised the 8-7 tempo as being somehow familiar, so I searched for a favourite song of mine from the Cold Mountain soundtrack,  Like a Songbird That has Fallen (you can listen at that link) and found the lyrics fit so well. So let's hijack the song, strip out  the lyrics and fit the following into it.

  Leaving island's mountain cover  
  iridescent wings beat me
                  rising thermals take me over                
    seas that surround Kapiti.

          Reaching mainland's coastal view plain
        refuge sought in green embrace
        draping highest, steepest mountain
         keeping Nature queen of place.

      I'm a songbird that has wandered
    seeking boundaries to expand.
    See me, hear me, love, adore me
      I will spread song through this land.

Photo by Kevin Brown.
Tending kitchen window's kowhai
planted, nectar to produce
                                 I'll repay in tuneful refrain                                    
 sung for my mate to seduce.

I'm a songbird that has found love
cast away your worldly strife.
See us, hear us, love, adore us,
we will spread song through your life.


Island dominates horizon,
slumbers peaceful Kapiti.
Human helpful intervention
keeps our island predator free.

Some may question, some may ponder,
why it is the tuis sing?
Joy of living, nature's wonder
help inspire this song we bring.

Seek outside and hear the songbird
perched on yonder kowhai tree.
See us, hear us, love, adore us
songs of joy we'll sing for thee.

Photo by Matt Binns- Tui on flax or harakeke.

Our offshore island of Kapiti is a Nature Reserve where introduced predators such as rats, o'possums, and stoats have been eradicated to allow the bush to regenerate, thereby providing a secure breeding habitat for our native birdlife. Today it acts like an incubator- as the bird population on the island grows, adult birds spread across to the mainland.

If Bonnie ever reads this, it's dedicated to her to put a little cheer in her life.

Kapiti Island photos by Jim McIntosh.
Middle photo of Tui in Kowhai is by Kevin Brown of Simple Signs



Jade said...

Those birds and flowers are gorgeous! The colors are so vibrant, too. Unlike anything I've ever seen before.

inka said...

I can only repeat what Jade said, beautiful. And th song I would like to learn by heart.

Jim said...

Thanks ladies, glad you enjoyed reading this as much as I did preparing it for publishing. Grab hold of the 'Cold Mountain' Soundtrack, or listen too the Reel Traveller's song at that link ( I don't like the video much though) and sing along.
It is a song about a tui leaving Kapiti Island for our mainland and seeking nectar in the trees I planted outside our kitchen window to attract them. Such beautiful birds.

alejandro guzman said...

What a wonderful looking creature. And great lyrics.


Cathy Sweeney said...

The photos, the song -- beautiful, just beautiful!

Red Nomad OZ said...

Beautiful photos and song to start the new year. Unless I'm much mistaken, the tui actually looks a little like the Victoria's Riflebird of Australia!

Happy 2011!!

Jim said...

Similar possibly. I'll have to check the scientific names out and see whether they are similar specie.Not sure if they have the same courtship ritual as the Victoria Rifleman though Red.

The NVR Guys said...

Beautiful, Jim. Happy new year!

Ayngelina said...

The memories, I really loved the 4 weeks I spent in New Zealand with tui the bird and of course, the beer :)

Papercut Doll said...

I love coming here and look forward to these posts, the pictures you put up are always so vibrant and the story fits perfectly within. I really like how you included lyrics this time, it's a lovely touch.

Jim said...

NVR Guys,Ayngelina, and SJ, the post was put up to kick off the New Year as positively as I could for all my readers and friends visiting here. It's my way of wishing you all a fantastic New Year!.

Julia said...

Lovely photos Jim. Lifetime ambition to make it to New Zealand one day...

Jim said...

Make sure you let us know when you're coming!

zablon said...

the bird is beautiful, i didnt know you are a bird watcher

Jim said...

Quite keen on birds these days Zablon. Just back from Ethiopia where they have a marvellous range of birds even though the forest cover has been destroyed. I took many photos of their birdlife.

Bongo said...

Bonnie was here..Bonnie read this...Bonnie is smiling...Thank you XOXOXO

Nancie said...

Stunning shots and beautiful words, Jim. Thanks for sharing.

Michael Schuermann said...

Great way to start 2011 ;-)And a Happy, healthy and wealthy new year to you too, matey

John in France said...

As a NZer too I loved your verse. I hope they have a breeding program in place for these "treasures" as the populations are dying off.

Jim said...

Yhat's why island sanctuaries are so important to provide a secure breeding environment.
Thanks John.

_Dragonfly_ said...

.I want to congratulate you for writing this beautiful poem and the pictures are really gorgeous...
POETRY is much more important in our lives than we may believe you remember the italian movie LA VITA E' BELLA ( LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL)...well thtat is the perfect example about how to transform a REAL HUMAN TRAGEDY into poetry... therefore I will never forget in my personal life to live "through" the eyes of's like to wear a pair of pink glasses! THANK YOU JIM!

Jim said...

That is a great film Maria. Thoroughly enjoyed the film and the metaphors one can draw from it.
I've got another poem about to posts. Stay tuned.

Alessandra said...

The first photo is spectacular! I love tuis (can you say tuis for plural???) we have lots in the bush, they sing and sing, and they come and pick at my bedroom window, I think that they lick the puriri nectar that get stacked on the glass... but that is just my theory.

And I have a big photo of a tui in my kitchen.

Very special birds :-)


Red Nomad OZ said...

Hey Jim! I loved this the first time - adored it the second! Thanx so much for playing 'Round the World', and have a wonderful day!

Jim said...

My top viewed post, going viral Red.Thanks!

TexaGermaFinlaNadian said...

Absolutely beautiful!! I am glad I stopped over from the hop. Now off to have an even better look around your great site :)

Pamela said...

Beautiful words and images! Lovely!

Finding One's Way said...

Very vibrant photos as always. I am sure BB will be touched by your words. I glad you decided to dedicate this post o her after all.
You are a wonderful person.

Alpana Jaiswal said...

The pictures are wonderful..I wish and hope to visit soon. Thanks a lot,Jim,for sharing this one.

Unknown said...

Absolutely stunning post Jim - I wanted to read it again and again and again to grasp the beauty of it all. Lovely!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful bird, lovely poem. <3

Jorie Pacli said...

Now since when did you become a Jimpic? HEHE Brilliant post Jim and the pictures were just as stunning! By the way, I didn't know about the New Year so it's something new I learned today.... I have to google when is it specifically? Cheers! :)

fantasy in practicality said...

island Kapiti and it's beauty has touched the heart of the outer world. the birds are a beauty. Jim, the snap shots are excellent.

S. Susan Deborah said...

Wow! What rich colours and the lyrics so apt. This bird reminds me of our very own Cuckoo.

Joy always to visit and view the colours here,

Anonymous said...

Complex Post. This record helped me in my university assignment. Thanks Alot

Debra said...

Jim, you have me breathless here with your stunning words and pictures. Of course the poem is a painting by itself. But the photos AND the poem weddedmake want to sing - soon as I catch my breath! ~ love