zondag 10 maart 2013

Mt. Ngauruhoe & a Pukeko chick

Dear Heather from Perth, Australia was visiting New Zealand lately and has been extremely thoughtful by sending me these 2 beautiful postcards! I really love bird postcards, and this Pukeko chick card was one I had not received yet from this series of postcards, which makes it more than a great addition for my collection. And well, that view of Mt. Ngauruhoe is of course breathtaking. No more words needed...

Mt. Ngauruhoe is New Zealand's newest and historically most active volcano. It is an imposing, almost perfect symmetrical cone that rises more than 3,000 ft above the surrounding landscape of the Tongariro National Park. Eruptions from the central vent have constructed the steep (33°), outer slopes of the cone.

Mt Ngauruhoe has been active for at least 2,500 years. It has produced more than 70 eruptive episodes since 1839, there have been no eruptions since 19th February 1975 and the temperature of fumaroles in the crater floor has steadily cooled since 1979, suggesting that the main vent is becoming blocked.

In Maori legend, the high priest, Ngatoroirangi was caught in a blizzard while climbing Mount Ngauruhoe. He prayed to his sisters in Hawaiki to send him fire to save him from freezing. The flames they sent south emerged first at White Island, then Rotorua and Taupo before finally bursting at Ngatoroirangi's feet. Thus Ngatoroirangi is credited with bringing volcanic activity to Aotearoa New Zealand - not as a curse upon the land, but as a blessing. [source: nationalpark.co.nz]

Also known as the swamp hen, this is the most commonly encountered of the five living species of the rail family native to New Zealand, the others being the closely related takahe or Notornis, weka, banded rail, spotless crake and marsh crake. Pukekos dwell in swamps, along lake shores, and in poorly drained pastures throughout New Zealand and Chatham Islands, and are occasionally wind-borne to the Kermadecs and Campbell Island. Though native to this country, the species, in the form of various subspecies, occurs widespread in a number of overseas countries. The local subspecies is called melanotus.

The plumage is mainly indigo blue; the head and wings are black, the latter with a greenish gloss. The feathers beneath the tail are white. When disturbed, pukekos flick their tail and the white feathers become more prominent. This habit of tail flicking is common to all other rails. Bill, legs, and feet are scarlet and the eyes ruby red. There is no clear distinction in the general appearance of the sexes, but males are slightly bigger than females. Ungraceful in becoming airborne, pukekos are strong on the wing and are also swift runners. Though their large feet are not webbed, pukekos are good swimmers. Their usual call is a piercing squawk.
[source: teara.govt.nz]

Thank you very much Heather!

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