Fall Colors in May

My alarm went off this morning at 7, and as usual I hit snooze. Rolling back into bed I expected to doze for at least another half hour, when I noticed my entire room was lit up in a ruby red glow. It wasn’t a house fire as I initially feared, but rather a blazing skyline which forced me to prematurely jump out of bed, grab my camera, and take a few shots.

Dunedin sunrise

Fall is in the air, trees are shedding their leaves and the rose gardens have started to disappear. In this post I’ll introduce two local animals I’ve met, and briefly complain about my final exam.

Tubs the Beautiful

The native birds of New Zealand are absolutely stunning. In Fiordland I encountered Kea, remarkably intelligent green alpine parrots, and in Abel Tasman I fought off Weka, chubby chicken-like birds which frequently raid campsites for food. Even here in Dunedin, there are birds in town the likes of which I’ve seen nowhere else.

While working on an audio clip for Maori language class, my recordings were interrupted by an unusual “kraaww” out my window. Easily within three meters of me was this beautiful, stocky bird perched on a branch. I lovingly named it Tubs because of it’s tubby stature and entrely content attitude. Tubs spend the next few hours in the same spot, giving me the chance to try some animal photography.


Tubs is a New Zealand Pigeon, a species unique in that its population has not been particularly impacted by habitat loss. The NZ Pigeon has adapted to living in urban environments, often roosting on power-lines and comfortable being close to people. However like all birds in New Zealand, their greatest threat comes from predation by introduced stoats, possums, and the domestic cat.

Gretchin of Castle Street

Gretchin is a mysterious wanderer, no one knows where she’s come from, where she goes at night, or if she’s a he. It all started one sunny afternoon a couple weeks back. Our flat had both front doors swung wide open, letting in a gentle breeze as we had lunch together.

In stepped Gretchin, without anyone noticing. She quietly walked through the lounge, ducked under our chairs and made her way into the kitchen where Anni was cutting some vegetables.


Gretchin of Castle Street

We immediately welcomed Gretchin into our flat with a bowl of milk and some tuna. She wasn’t here at the start of the year, and without any sort of collar or tag we don’t know where she’s come from or who takes her in at night. Within a week of her arrival, she could be regularly spotted patrolling our Castle Street flat complex. I assume she’s fed at every college flat in the area, as she’s put on some noticeable weight since our first meeting.

She doesn’t claw at anything, and is generally well mannered except for her habit of trying to jump onto the counter. Someone managed to put a colorful collar on her, but Gretchin had ripped it off by the end of the day. Whoever this cat is, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Recently I’ve heard a wild rumor that Gretchin actually is a male cat named George who lives in a house a few streets down. The Gretchin I know is definitely a she and belongs to Castle Street, but perhaps there is a look-alike or distant relative? Regardless, the legendary Gretchin continues to roam Castle Street and grace us with her imploring mews.

Final Exam of Doom

On a completely unrelated note this is my last week of physics lectures, and I haven’t had a single quiz or test all semester. The final exam in three weeks is worth 60% of my grade, and it’s incredibly disconcerting to have no real idea what to expect. My classmates are great at group study and collaboration, and we have a few meetings planned before the exam. I’ll certainly make the best of these opportunities, and I think I’ve been performing fairly well but it’s still the most terrifying final exam I’ve ever had.


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