Guest blogger: Poet & Campaign Manager for the Pied Stilt, Sam Hunt
Ed’s note: Sam Hunt lives amongst the birds in the Kaipara Harbour, so I asked him to be a campaign manager for one of his favourite neighbours – the pied stilt – a bird which has polled poorly in our annual Bird of the Year competition. Here’s his response. Mandy
There aren’t too many birds I don’t love in some way or other. And it’s a tough ask, to choose your favourite.
I’ll give it a go and say poaka. There’s nothing I don’t love about these birds. I love the way they don’t give too much of a toss about nests. A few sticks and twigs do the trick. So long as it carries the eggs safely.A scoop on a sandbank, again, a few twigs. That’s home.
After at least fifty years, watching these birds, I can still be fooled by their “broken wing” display. This is defence of that nest, of home. If a stilt’s nest is threatened, they’ll affect a broken wing and a broken leg, tumble down the shoreline, distracting the intruder completely. It’s a stunning performance.
James K. Baxter noted the pied-stilt in his poem, ‘Waipatiki Beach’, talked of their cry “like a creaking door”. There is always that feeling of entry – each time you enter their world.
Lots else I could say. But enough, that when they fly overhead – and they do that often around here – their in-flight cry is as good as crying gets. And they look like immaculately furled black-and-white umbrellas.
Sam Hunt, Kaipara Harbour, 2009
Polls open for the Bird of the Year competition in mid-September.