The Farm in Diggers Valley


Putangitangi - Paradise Duck

Tadorna variegata
(Endemic* to New Zealand)

female Paradise Duck

Pictured above are a female duck on the left and the male on the right. The white showing on the male's wings is obvious only because of the way in which he has folded his wings. Both sexes have identical wing markings, although their body feather colouring is different.

Paradise Ducks are common in our area. There are two or three pairs nesting across the flats on our farm, and possibly others in areas I don't see as often.

Paradise ducklings

I lived on the farm for three years before ever seeing Paradise Ducklings. The parents keep them very well hidden and have a marvellous method of distraction if one gets anywhere near their babies. One or both parents will flap away from wherever the ducklings are hiding, with one wing dragging on the ground, as if injured. They'll keep on doing this for some time and will, if one carries on in the 'wrong' direction, fly back and start again.

The two ducks pictured were raised by us after being separated from their family in a flood. Pictures of Ms Duck, who continued returning to us in adulthood, can be seen in the Ms Duck page.

Visit the NZ Birds Site for further information.

Paradise Duck Reunion Service: Lost or found a tame Paradise Duck? We may be able to help.

Kukupa - Wood Pigeon

Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae
(Endemic* to New Zealand)

Kukupa in Puriri tree Kukupa in Puriri tree Kukupa in Puriri tree Kukupa in Puriri tree

This Kukupa (or Kereru in other parts of Aotearoa) keeps visiting the Pūriri tree outside our back door. With the aid of some newly polished binoculars, I managed to get these pictures. The bird wasn't that far away, being directly above my head most of the time, but cameras lie.
Kukupa are endangered, but still present in reasonable numbers around here. On most days we'll sight 6-10 birds (some of those may well be the same individuals). I have seen six at a time on a couple of occasions. It is illegal to kill kukupa or even to remove their remains from where they are found. Kukupa were once an important food source and some people wish to eat them still, but their remaining populations will not sustain such behaviour.

Visit the NZ Birds Site for further information.

Pūkeko - "Swamp Hen"

Porphyrio porphyrio
(Native* to New Zealand and many other countries)

Pūkeko Pūkeko Pūkeko Pūkeko Pūkeko

The last picture above shows a bird using its foot to hold a piece of grass as it eats it.

A most interesting bird, although often considered a pest by many rural people due to their sometimes annoying behaviour. These birds will destroy your gardens and tree plantings, eat eggs they find on the ground (duck etc) and have been seen killing ducklings.

Recipe for Pūkeko is as follows: Boil a large pot of water, add the Pūkeko and a medium sized rock; boil for several hours; remove from heat, remove the Pūkeko, eat the rock.
Actually Pūkeko are to some extent protected (not sure of the details here) from hunting, although they certainly don't appear to be threatened, from the size of the local population. They make the most blood-curdling noises in the middle of the night (well, at any time at all actually), but for a Pūkeko-fan like myself, they're great to have around (even though I sacrifice a huge number of duck eggs as a result).

Pictures from our Pūkeko rescue and raising experience can be found on the Pūkeko page.

More information at NZ Birds site.

Kotare - Kingfisher

Halcyon sancta
(Native* to New Zealand and several other countries)

Kingfisher on Puriri branch

These birds are very common around here, eating often quite large insects, like cicadas and weta.

More information at NZ Birds site.



hen pheasant cock pheasant

These two, hen and cock respectively, are siblings, raised by a bantam hen, after their nest and mother were destroyed (when they were still in eggs) by a local hay-making farmer. They 'returned to the wild' to a large extent, although they continued to visit the area around our house during the following year, much more closely than any naturally wild pheasant would.

* Endemic = occurring naturally and only in one country. Native = occurring naturally in a country, but also in others.

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