Early in the morning the day after I arrived in Kerikeri I witnessed a cycle of nature. A small rabbit out in the field having an early morning feed on dew kissed grass became the early morning feed for a large hawk like bird. The bird had the rabbit in its claws and was devouring the upper part of the furry body.
I watched the bird take off into the sky and moving like a cloud it returned to its nest, somewhere high in a tree. I’m sure it shared the food with its young. I mentioned this to my daughter and later that day we saw its nest way up high in a distant shelter belt.
We wished we had a decent pair of binoculars so we could enter this new world of wonder inhabited by the Hawk. Over the next few days I couldn’t take my eyes of the nest and with much eye and neck strain I observed the bird sitting on its nest motionless.
The sun came and went, the rain came and went and the day changed into night but the devoted mother sat and guarded her nest. You may be able to see the Hawk in the nest – middle of last row of the shelter belt – just left of the foliage sticking up – see the little brownish object.
I couldn’t see her leave the nest but on several occasions I could see her looking for food soaring on thermal winds circling effortlessly until she would dive for prey and then having swept up the victim fly off with it in her talons.
Today being my last day at my daughter’s I decided to trek off to the distant shelter belt in search of the hawk and its nest. Thinking like a hunter I stalked the bird carefully and was slow and patient avoiding sudden movement. I wore my ‘nature’ coloured shirt and didn’t make any loud rustling sounds. I even tried to camouflage myself against the background by keeping well below the skyline.
I came upon the section of the shelter belt where I reckoned the nest was situated and looked up. To my surprise and complete disbelief I realised that I had spent five and a half days observing the habits of a stick. Yes a stick! All the notes taken during hours of observing amounted to nought, nothing, zip. I had observed a woody branch of the shelter belt that was protruding up through the foliage after a recent pruning. I now know all about the habits of a devoted motionless stick but I was unable to find where the hawk had its nest.
How on earth does David Attenborough make a career and a living out of doing this? We should have got those binoculars.