Our World Of Nature:
Big birds, angry birds and doggone babies

Kākāpo numbers are up! It seems like only yesterday that Ruby was heading south to spend two and a half weeks on Whenua Hou Island (off the coast of Stewart Island) to work with the Kākāpō Recovery Programme. Now her efforts (and those of all the other experts and volunteers) have appeared to pay off. News arrived mid-August that there are now 200 kākāpo alive, a number thought to be the highest ever for over 70 years. This is wonderful news. A big thank you to all who have worked so hard to help this wonderful bird survive and thrive.



See gulls? Duck gulls. Are seagulls getting more aggressive? Anyone who has been swooped by one during knows they’re not to be trifled with. It’s often blamed on the intrusion of humans into nesting spaces, the bird’s adaptive behaviour to find food is resulting in increased tension. Recent reports from the northern hemisphere are suggesting an escalation of hostilities, with a seagull abducting a miniature Chihuahua in Devon last month. You read that right – a seagull stole a dog.


All hail our penguin overlords! A massive penguin fossil found in North Canterbury is making news around the world. The Crossvallia waiparensis would have been slightly taller than a hobbit (coincidence?), roughly 1.6 metres high and weighing around 80kgs. With this news and the continued reported sightings of the penguins in Wellington trying to take over the sushi shop, well, perhaps it’s time for us to start working on some penguin treats. Just in case they come back… and they’re angry.

Holy Heracles. If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of coming back from a day’s skiing to find a kea going at your windscreen wipers you can at least feel lucky it wasn’t ‘Heracles’ – the giant parrot fossil found recently near St Bathans. Heracles would have been twice as heavy as a kākāpo (which is now the world’s largest parrot) and stood roughly a metre high. Paul Scofield, a senior curator of natural history at Canterbury Museum, says NZ has produced a particularly large number of such species due to our large size, complex ecosystem and lack of predators. Truly, our country is a beautiful and wondrous place!


Attention new parents. It’s just about to start in England and we’re not sure when it will reach here. But it may be worth tracking down a new TV show called Train Your Baby Like A Dog. Apparently the show sees animal behaviourist Jo-Rosie Haffenden using her ‘dog whisperer’ skills to help parents solve problems with tantrums and sleepless nights. We can’t confirm she uses delicious A-La-Carte snacks to do so – but we can’t not confirm it either.  

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