Feeding feathered friends, intentionally or not

A dozen of Richard Emerson's finest Pilsners went into the making of the final shot in Saturday's...
A dozen of Richard Emerson's finest Pilsners went into the making of the final shot in Saturday's ODT. Despite shaking and banging the cans, they either refused to froth or did so when he had his eyes closed. In the end, pre-warming a can in the bottle wash saved the day. PHOTOS: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Like, have any of you had to endure any of those, like, inane, like conversations on a long bus trip?

I always thought the word ``like'' meant ``similar to'' or ``as though'', rather than being the ultimate meaningless sentence filler.

But ``like'' has become code for ``keep quiet and listen, enthralled, to me, because I haven't actually finished yet, I'm just trying to think of the right word to say, then you can have a turn''.

I can't, like, recall the precise conversation on the bus, but a precis of it would go thus:

``And he said, like ... . And I was, like .... .'' (it went on for a good many minutes).

The sentences were unfinished, with clearly a non-vocal understanding between the speaker and her captivated audience.

Please tell me! What did he say? And what was your reaction? I am so, like, flummoxed.

Stroppy, starving seagulls

Have you ever noticed there's always one gull bossing the others about? It stalks around, doing funny up-and down-things with its neck and squawking angrily at the others. I guess we all know people like that in our own lives.

An ODT colleague shares his experience of stroppy gulls from earlier in the year.

``While having a coffee on the deck of The Galley cafe at the edge of Oamaru harbour, I saw a super-slick Stuka-type seagull sortie. And was amused and impressed by the clever anti-aircraft measures the cafe provides for the protection of its punters.

``Some other folk were also on the deck with food and drink, and seemed little concerned by the ever-present, definitely menacing, circle of seagulls, which somehow did not venture too close.

``I admired the apparent indifference of the diners. But I now think they were locals who knew the game.

A bellbird and silvereye discuss access to a sugar-water feeder in the Alexandra garden of Cath...
A bellbird and silvereye discuss access to a sugar-water feeder in the Alexandra garden of Cath Bonsor. PHOTO: CATH BONSOR
``What I had noticed, but dismissed as toys left behind by frazzled parents when trying to corral their young, were several large plastic children's waterblasters lying at random but conveniently to hand on the deck's railing.

``When some unspoken point of fly-by distance was broken, a couple of the diners leapt up, grabbed the waterblasters and hosed down the gulls which had grown too cheeky.

``What a hoot! Mayhem. Seagulls scattered, screaming in alarm and then hovered or sat as far away as possible from the spraying humans. Also, the gulls did not return with any intent of mischief while that group stayed.

``Eventually, though, they left, to be replaced by two young women who had brought their plates of fish and chips to a deck table. They were immediately surrounded by a whirling mass of suddenly fearless gulls.

``The women managed to protect their food by waving away the birds, but it was a constant, irritating chore. So I tried to be a Good Samaritan.

```Excuse me,' I said. `Do you see those plast ... '.

``In the millisecond in which the women turned towards me, some gulls swooped down and hauled away whole fillets of fish, scattering chips everywhere, which were then snatched up by the unstoppable second wave.

```... tic waterblasters?' I finished lamely, as the at-first frightened, then angry, women headed indoors for cover.

``The seagulls, of course, continued their patrols, wary but undaunted and ever-ready to pounce. Darwinism in action.

``So take note if you choose to take a turn on the cafe's deck with food. Remember the rules of engagement so that you can enjoy the beautiful view, your snack - and the great delight of reverting to childhood when you sight and squirt.

``Then praise the establishment's thoughtful owners and staff.''

Cyclist run off road

Joel Anderson, who runs a bike service shop, writes asking for help tracking down a cyclist who appears to have been run off the road by a truckie.

``On Saturday on my ride home from work I witnessed a petrol tanker force a cyclist off the road near Queens Gardens as he passed her. She was forced to jump off her bike on to the footpath to avoid being run over.

``I'm wondering if you can help me find the cyclist as I want to make sure she is OK and if she will help me in making a road-traffic complaint against the truckie.''

Please get in touch if you can help and I will pass on your message to Joel.

Gerard Oskam's home-made feeder in Bradford attracts many kinds of birds. A greenfinch and a...
Gerard Oskam's home-made feeder in Bradford attracts many kinds of birds. A greenfinch and a starling share bird seed on the top deck while silvereyes enjoy the sugar water and fat on the lower level. PHOTO: GERARD OSKAM
Feed the birds

Gerard Oskam of Bradford sent us one of today's photographs, of the ingenious bird feeder he made three years ago.

The feeding facility allows for bird seed at the top, sugar water underneath and, at the sides, fat liberally packed with seed.

The feeder hosts greenfinch, silvereyes, starlings, tui, bellbirds, chaffinches and sparrows,

In the summer, it converts into a plant holder.

Cath Bonsor of Alexandra has in recent weeks had her first bellbird visit.

``We were thrilled to see this bellbird, the first we've ever seen at our house. He's now a regular and we've bought him his own Tui feeder.

``The bird song thanking us has to be heard to be believed. We go through 1.25litres of sugar water in about three hours, just for the silvereyes. I only put one bottle out for them each day.

``We've been giving the birds fat too, which attracts the starlings. The sparrows, greenfinch and common chaffinch all love the wild bird seed. Again they're restricted to a cup a day otherwise they'd eat us out of house and home.''

It's good to know so many of you out there are helping our feathered friends through the winter.

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