In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Think Global, Act Local.”

The global problem I often find myself thinking about…reading National Geographis, following environmental sites, watching documentaries…is the loss of local species of plant and animal species. It is horrific to know the reducing populations of animal species — so many to list. It is worrying to know how jungles, forests, swamp and marine environments are being destroyed by industry or spoiled by pollution.

I cannot do anything on a global scale — not even via donations. Being out-of-work after years of a debilitating health condition, and with the poor exchange rate from NZ$ to an overseas organization which may be working to make a difference is rather frustrating.

Locally? Different story…

I used to live along the street from the last patch of indigenous “bush” (native forest) which was home to our two most noisy song birds: Kerere (NZ Bush Pigeon) and Tui (dubbed by colonials as the Parson Bird).

The small patch of bush was part of the grounds of a private girls boarding school, and their annual magazines for years back always contained students’ written works (poems, short stories, articles) based on the glorious sound or sight of these two birds. The bush was protected under the NZ Historical Places organization, but nonetheless its boundaries have over the years been encroached upon by suburban homes “over the fence”. Home owners had felled trees in the bush over their boundary, to remove the cause of the extensive shade thrown by full-grown trees.

Shortly after we moved there, we saw both birds flitting and swooping from the protected bush up the street, across neighborhood gardens, to reach tall feed trees farther down the street. My children were horrified to be woken one morning by a neighbour’s chain-saw felling a Rata three houses down.

I knew which trees we could plant to offer feed to the Tui, and was glad to have in the garden a massive clump of Harakeke (flax) which has flowers offering nectar.

Later, in the grounds of one workplace I found self-seeded sapling Kowhai –another nectar source. I was allowed to pull them up and I distributed six of the strongest to colleagues who had new life-style blocks, and advised them to plant a flax bush right beside the Kowhai, to act as a wind-break to the sapling while it was still tender.

The other saplings I took home and potted up. From the Kowhai trees in the local Queen Elizabeth II park I gathered seed pods, and sowed a hundred in trays. I was rewarded with ninety-seven seedlings. My aim was not to sell the seedlings, even after raising them to planting size. What I wanted to do was take one to every neighbourhood between our house and the native bush, and present them each with a flax and a Kowhai to plant out.

Disaster…I was felled by Stiff Person’s Syndrome and required a “tin hip”, then three days later another as the surgeon botched the first replacement. The SPS took a hold on my life, leaving me in a hospital bed. The summer was a drought, and my darling husband was at my bedside every moment when not at work. His concern was for me…above my seedlings, which all shriveled away to leafless twigs.

We removed to another area completely, me being still bed-bound. In the first rental home, I could see from my bed a Puriri tree (no english title for it) smothered with beautiful bright pink flowers and later with berries. Tuis would call in at the Puriri to feed. One day a large flock of them arrived, feasted and flew away. They were there so long and in so large a number I took a photograph to be able to count them–eighteen. About twenty minutes later a larger crowd flocked in to the same tree. Again, too many to count unaided, but another photograph revealed this flock comprised twenty-three Tuis!

We were in that house for a year before moving to our current home. So, still thinking globally but having to/wanting to act locally, I again have dreams of sewing seeds for Harakeke and Kowhai, to be able to give to neighbors here in this area, I want to replace the Star Magnolia in our sunny back yard with a Puriri, to add to our two young Kowhai trees.

Tuis and wood pigeons do come to town here, but are a rare sight, as we townies have a city planted with imported deciduous trees from the northern hemisphere, whose leaves clog the storm water drains, and which do not produce food for the Tuis, Kereru, or the little Silver-eye birds.

I wish the local city/district council would plant natives as street trees. Native trees are almost all evergreen, so their leaves drop all year round, and are so small they are no nuisance to the storm water system.

in the meantime, let’s go native in our urban gardens, to support our declining native bird life. Please.

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