The Tui’s sing-songy warble is in the distance as I write. Often when I’m outside I answer back with a somewhat substandard whistle to try and make them answer. Although they can by nature be aggressive to other birds defending territory or food sources, the song we identify them with seems to contradict that as it is so pleasant.
Our children were fortunate to go to a beautiful school with a strong ecological leaning. They did ‘Garden to Table’, a subject that taught planting, harvesting and cooking from the gardens they kept. Many a recipe was tried, simply because they had input in both the ingredients and the making. The school has a junior side and a senior side with all children under the age of eleven. The two areas are separated by a bridge which meanders through a beautiful bush scape at the heart of which is a stream. We would walk the children to assemblies or the school library in messy excitable lines when the occasion required it. From the bridge you look onto the tops of ferns and out to glorious Nikau.
At the edge of the path leading down to the bridge is a large cherry tree. Most of the year it sits in a rather unspectacular manner waiting for it’s time in the sun. Then, as if from nowhere, it bursts into flower. Great clusters of pink flowers embellish it’s branches. And then they come. The Tui. I once watched the scene as I dropped off my youngest and counted 28 Tui from near and far feasting on the nectar with frenzied passion. The beauty of the tree and it’s visitors with the tui’s song in tandem was memorising. Springtime had arrived.