The endangered matuku inhabits wetlands throughout New Zealand. DOC is focusing on developing methods for surveying bittern systematically and for restoring wetlands.
Bitterns are extremely cryptic and rarely seen. This is due to their secretive behaviour, inconspicuous plumage and the inaccessibility of their habitat. Their presence is most commonly discerned through hearing the distinctive 'booming' call of the males during the breeding season. Bittern occasionally show themselves in the open along wetland edges, dykes, drains, flooded paddocks or roadsides, often adopting their infamous 'freeze' stance, with the bill pointing skyward, even when caught out in the open.
NZ birds online
âRead more about the matuku and its importance, both ecologically and culturally, here and here.
A bird a day
As I discussed in my introduction post for "a bird a day", I am leaning heavily on online resources to draw these very rare and endangered birds.
We have some fantastic websites available to help us understand more about our wildlife here in Aotearoa - please take the time to read about these birds in more detail at the links provided!
Antipodean wandering albatross/toroa
The Antipodean albatross is a large albatross that varies in colour from black-and-white to chocolate brown depending on sex, age and race. They breed almost exclusively on the Auckland and Antipodes Islands and forage over the continental shelf edge and deep water from south of West Australia to the coast of Chile, but are most common in the Tasman Sea and over the Chatham Rise east of New Zealand. Since 2003 a few pairs have started breeding on the Chatham Islands.
Antipodean albatrosses are closely related to the wandering, Tristan and Amsterdam albatrosses, and more distantly related to the northern and southern royal albatrosses.
NZ birds online
Bird of the year
Every year, I have a great time getting involved with the memes and fun of Forest and Bird's "Bird of the Year" competition, but as they state on their website, there's a serious message behind the fun.
"Sadly, many of New Zealand's native birds are in crisis. Two thirds of our birds are threatened with extinction. Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year celebrates our unique birds and with each vote you help give them a voice."
And every year, I try to draw some more native birds, both to celebrate them, and to bring their plight to the attention of more people. Here at Copper Catkin HQ, we are surrounded by birds to the extent that we have even called our home "Te Rerenga Manu", the flight of the birds.
One of my favourite plants in our garden, right from when we first moved in, was this lovely bush by the front drive that had the most gorgeous pink flowers.
A garden full of inspiration
As you may have noticed, we have a garden absolutely FULL of plants, both native and introduced.
I grew up in a very plant-focused family, and acquired a great deal of knowledge by osmosis, even thought actual gardening has never really been my scene (mainly because of allergies).
âOur visit to Portland a year ago, and my increasing interest in reducing my impact on the planet by living more sustainably, really re-fired my interest in growing my own food.
I started by drawing a lot of our thriving herb garden here:
A personal project
Awhile ago, I started a personal thread-painting project to decorate our house. I shared it on my personal Facebook page, to show people what I was up to, and people liked it a lot, so I thought, ok, I will show my Copper Catkin audience, too.
An unexpected reaction
I thought people would say something nice, as people often do, and then get on with their day - but people started approaching me and saying that they wanted to make their own, so I thought, ok, why not?
CCS, part 3 - new projects
Quite some time ago now, we launched our first and second waves of colour-cut-and-sew cushion projects. They were very popular, but as we haven't brought out new versions with the new designs, their popularity has ebbed, as you would expect, so we are refreshing the range for this year's gift-giving season.
I decided to match up my most popular bird picture, my kereru, with one of my newest designs, kawakawa, for the first design.
I'll tell you a secret - I actually kind of hate kohuhu, aka pittisporum tenuifolium. But like a lot of things that I don't much like in and of themselves, I enjoy drawing it.
If you look back at my portfolio, it seems to be filled with things that I don't really like - I am not much of a fan of eating fish or mushrooms, and bugs aren't really things I want to get too close to, but I really enjoy drawing them.
Added to that, it's a native plant that is growing on our land, and it's not a predictable subject - and I haven't drawn it yet. We also have akiraho (Olearia paniculata), so I have included leaves from both in the design. I have not included their distinguishing flowers in this design, as neither had bloomed when I took my original working photos. I took these photos today to show the difference - and I may make a second version, with the trees flowering.
It was actually very pleasant to draw, and the design came together nicely from its parts. I felt that it quickly made a cohesive design repeat.
The idea of adding a pōhutukawa design to my portfolio is not a new one, but it is really difficult to align their kahika (flowers) with my drawing style - by the time I have drawn AROUND every filament, the flower will be more black line than flower. The alternative, stylising the flower outline and only picking out the anthers, just makes it look like a dandelion. Ugh. Annoying.
I decided to break from tradition and draw the kahika in red, and it seemed to work... So after a quick mock-up, I used the trees that I had already created for my kōwhai design (with the pōhutukawa in mind, of course), and dressed them to fit the pōhutukawa structure.
My succulent life, delicious and spiky