Sunday, 25 May 2008

Our Own Birds

I've put up a quick and easy garden bird survey of our own, just to see what we come up with. It won't detect numbers of birds but we can see what varieties we have here in the Otautau District. If you see birds that aren't listed, just tick 'Other', and leave a comment on this post. Comments can be anonymous for those who are shy! Here is a quick identification guide to birds commonly found in gardens. The poll will be up for a week, closing on 31 May.

Monday, 19 May 2008

NZ Bird Survey

The Landcare Research Garden Bird Survey 2007 results are in. With only two native species (waxeyes and fantails) in the top 10, it's a good earmark to see where we are in the slow decline (or increase) of native birds overall.

In her book, Customers and Green Men, Margaret Elizabeth McKay recalls Otautau in the early 1900s. Although she didn't note what birds were in her back garden (other than chickens), she did write about the birds along the Aparima River, where as a child she would often play with her brothers. She noted skylarks, dotterels, wrybill plovers and black-billed gulls. She also saw terns, oystercatchers, stilts, and occasionally bitterns and white herons.

And of the Longwoods Range, she writes wistfully:


Those woods, at that time, were bountifully supplied with native birds and native white clematis. We became spellbound by the myriads of white blossoms running along the parent lianes and twined about trees, lending the forest a
delicate bridal air.
I think a garden bird survey is a brilliant idea and wonder if anyone would be interested in our own survey of what birds inhabit our river and stream areas. This summer, I saw a white-faced heron several times at the Otautau Stream. Maybe this is a good project for the kids at school? It would be interesting to compare what our birdlife is today with what it was 100 years ago when the author was growing up.

[Pictured above are white-fronted terns which I took at another place, not Otautau.]

Pikelet Shares Limelight

The Western Southland website, which was the first to issue a Pikelet recipe from Tuatapere via podcast, has added new podcasts to its pages. Now the world can hear more about the wonderful things Western Southland has to offer. Just click on the play button to listen to podcasts from Riverton (the Riviera of the South) and Tuatapere or to reminisce about the humble pikelet. These soundbytes only give a hint of all there is to see and do here, but it's a good start. Each town is completely unique with slightly different facets to its history, yet we are all connected.

The website folks have also created an events page where anyone can list a local event. Just click on Events to see what's happening or go to the events listing form and submit your own event. They've made it easy. You don't even have to have a website to have your event listed with them.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Celebrating Women's Right to Vote

This has been an interesting week. I discovered that there had been at least two plants planted in Otautau in honour of the Women's Suffrage Centennial back in the 1990s. One was a white camellia, and the other a white rose. Through some very good sleuthing by local folks, it was revealed that these plants no longer exist. They had died for one reason or another.

As a volunteer for the museum last year, I got curious about whether the women of Otautau had signed the Women's Suffrage petition of 1893. I found out that they did and was able to procure a digital copy of the Otautau petition from the National Archives for the museum. Reading the list of names is like a Who's Who of Otautau:

Jane Cupples
Jane Lee
Barbara Lindsay
Jane Shaw
M. P. Johnston
C. McNeil
M. Cameron
I. Lawson
J. Gardiner
B. S. McLaren
E. F. Cotter
M. T. Hogan
Catherine Campbell
Annie Croft
Annie Gilchrist
Rebecca Wohlmann
Margaret Forbes
Emily Rogers
Elizabeth Price
Elizabeth Norman
Ellen M. Blatch
Elen Hill
Jessie Pankhurst
L. C. Matheson
A. L. Clothier
Mary Manson
Jane Acheson
Isabella Parmenter
Alice Gaines
Margaret McAfee
Florrie McDonald
Annie Hill
Jessie Smith
Mrs. Raitton
M. Thomson
M. Carmichael
Catherine Keveney
J. Greenslade
A. Walker
C. Cameron
A. Swap
Jane Morrison
Isibella Forbs
Mrs. Forbes
Mrs. Anne Ketteg

This is by no means everyone who had signed. There were some Otautau women who happened to be in Invercargill, for example, when they signed the petition and so ended up on the Invercargill roll. It will take a little more sleuthing to collect their names and add them to the list.

But here's the point of my post. Getting the right to vote was obviously important to the Otautau women of 1893. And celebrating the centennial by planting a white camellia and rose was obviously important to the women of the 1990s. So where does that leave us now? Should we plant a new camellia in honour of Women's Suffrage and all the women of the town who dared to claim their right to vote?

Election 2017

Election season has swung into gear with the next General Election on Saturday, September 23rd - 7 1/2 weeks away. Not much has changed with...