Geoff sent this email yesterday. He and his wife Pam life in Lower Hutt. Geoff and I roomed together for a year in Rolleston House hostel when we were at Canterbury University.
'Yesterday we had a flock of tui playing tag in the gum tree in the front of our house. They were vigorously dashing about in and out of the tree and adjacent totara and kauri for some time. Impossible to count as they didn't stay still long enough but we are confident that there were more than ten.
At one point a group of them raced off to the puriri over the back fence and continued the game of tag but then came hurtling back having realised, I think, that it was much more fun when they were all in one place. A bit like kids in a school playground when they have just been let out. The image came to mind of Harry Potter and quidditch.
A marvellous sight that we had not seen before. When we first came here we never expected to see a tui in our tree, let alone a sizeable group enjoying a mad game of tag. As I write this I can see two in the puriri quietly feeding. I am not surprised that they are hungry.'
I've been watching a similar though smaller group in our neighbour's kowhai. It is a spectacular sight. I give thanks to the sanctuary. I wonder if the Lower Hutt increase arises from the same source or is it the planned eradication of possum from the local area. It's spring - maybe tag is courting, a form of pre-nuptial behaviour or establishing territory and pecking order. I've just watched our resident blackbird divebombed by a tui. No rivals allowed.
PS Geoff taught me how to use italics in my blog.