Wednesday, December 27, 2017

__________________________ DIVE BOMBED __________________________

Yes, yes, yes shipmates, I know what you are thinking - "What's the silly old bugger doing now? " Well, hold that thought and I shall explain.

I decided to launch my new cruising dinghy 'Scout' and take a look at how the Pohutakawa trees that I am keeping an eye on for my conservationist friend Gerry are faring. Since I last took a look there has been a number of king tides which can wash across the little island and some pretty vicious winter storms.

As I haven't yet constructed a sailing rig for 'Scout' it was a long row against an outgoing tide and a 15 - 20 knot wind to the now familiar island beach on Whangarei harbour. As I approached I could see a small breeding colony of birds on the grass berm just above the high tide mark.

As I got nearer, the birds became very agitated and began to dive bomb me. I got out of the dinghy and walked as far away down the beach from the nesting site as I could, then headed inland to inspect the Pohutakawa trees.  A squadron of birds followed my every move, so as soon as I reached some vegetation I pulled a clump of old dead growth out of the ground and used it as protection for my head as the dive bombing continued.

Any idea I had that perhaps the birds might mistake the vegetation above my head for the plumage of a miraculously surviving Dodo or a geographically challenged Emperor Penguin were quickly extinguished as the aerial onslaught continued. These protective little seabird dive bombers weren't going to be fooled for a second by the great waddling Alden pretend bird as he crashed through the undergrowth.

Of the 17 trees that were planted 8 are thriving and looking very healthy indeed. Two trees are dead and the rest have simply vanished. I wonder if they haven't been pulled out of the ground and stolen.

I spent a bit of time pulling weeds away from around the remaining trees and then returned to 'Scout' and headed home. It was an easy return to the launching ramp at the Onerahi Yacht Club as the wind and tide were now favourable and we were pushed along at a fast clip.

I am very happy with the way 'Scout' performs. She rows well and although a heavy dinghy I found this an advantage in the rough water and fresh head wind as the heft of her weight helps her to push solidly through head seas. I can't wait to get a rig on her and see how she sails!


George A said...

Sounds like both you and the birds got quiet the work out! Your trees have almost a 50% survival rate--probably better than if nature took its course. Happy Holidays Alden!

Alden Smith said...

Yes George, you are quite correct about the survival rate. Gerry, the conservationist who planted the trees told me that if 1-3 survived that would be counted a success - so he will be pleased. It would be good if all 8 make it to adulthood, they all look very healthy at the present time, so here's hoping.