Monday, April 25, 2011

Heading home

The group headed out on the  Qantas flight to Auckland, connecting to LAX and then Philadelphia.  Aidan and I hung out until my flight left at , I think his was going to Napier at .  To kill time we visited the Kiwi Birdlife Park near the Gondola (they very kindly admitted us free).  Very interesting information, we saw a kiwi feeding, such strange birds, they are in huge decline due to introduced predators.  Unbelievable the size of the egg that female lays compared to her body size.  It is equivalent to a human bearing a 35 pound child!  At least the male incubates the egg (for 3 months) 
A kiwi egg replica

They are the only bird that has nostrils at the end of their beak. At the conservation show we learned about possums, stoats and rabbits some of the worst offenders in this environment.  Prior to the introductions by humans, the only land mammals here were 3 species of bats.

They are training this rainbow lorikeet (another invasive) to show how they take over native bird nests and also to help raise money for the Kiwi Birdlife Park, which is funded only by donations.  It used to be a landfill and they have reforested with native trees over the last 30 years. 

the weasel-like stoat

We had a nice lunch in town—today is ANZAC Day.  Sort of like our Memorial Day or Veterans Day, it commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey early on the morning of 25 April 1915 during the First World War.  Several thousand lives were lost.

I connected with my flight Auckland-LAX, the first of back-to-back redeye flights (a nearly 12 hour layover in LA), to arrive in Gainesville the morning on April 26.  Will be glad to get some real sleep!  It was an amazing trip.

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