1. Day 40 - Rockin’ robins

    In which a migrant laborer gives up drugs for Lent, swims to an island, and gives Buddhism the once-over.

    Buddhism - tick.

    Swum to the island - tick.

    Giving up drugs - well, mostly ticked altho since March 22 I have drunk liters of coffee, consumed cannabis for a few days when ill, and imbibed a glass of champagne.

    Plus there’s still six days to go, but as we’re pretty much there I’d call GUDFL 2012 a success.

    In terms of subject matter for this here blog, there’s been plenty of miscellaneous music, druggy banter, and crime I plan to cover later this week.

    As for birds of New Zealand, I got up close to a number of endangered native robins this morning.

    I’m on the mailing list for the Mainland Island Restoration Operation (MIRO), who work in partnership with Greater Wellington Regional Council in East Harbour Regional Park.

    They called for volunteers to take 40 North Island robins by helicopter from Kapiti Island, a large protected area off the west coast, and release them in the park behind my current location and home town of Eastbourne with the aim of establishing a sustainable population.

    Yes I know we’re all a bunch of tree huggers but in my opinion native flora and fauna is something to be encouraged and it’s nice to get involved.

    Take off was delayed due to fog, which is very unusual in the Wellington region, but eventually we heard the chopper as it headed toward the beach, and then a couple of four wheel drives pulled up with a bunch of cat boxes in the back.

    After a lengthy prayer from a kaumātua (Maori elder) and a brief briefing from the MIRO dude we were assigned a box, each with a single bird inside.

    I was fearful mine would be dead or maimed after its unsettling journey but it fluttered and chirped like a little gremlin all the way up the hill until it was time to ready to fly.

    Money shot below.

    New Zealand robin release - Butterfly Creek - April 1

    It felt a little bit special actually and I’m hoping next time I go up there my bird will come and land on my finger like I’m Snow White.

    Overall I feel pretty virtuous, calm and happy, which isn’t to say the prospect of a ingesting a shedload of intoxicating substances isn’t appealing.

    I will be a very cheap date however.