Auckland campus residents (of the feathered variety)

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By Lucia Hu
Degree: Bachelor of Science
Campus: Auckland

Whether you constantly miss the shuttle bus and hence need to take the arduous trek to Oteha Rohe, or having the difficulty of finding a carpark among the sea of vehicles, you may have missed the opportunity to say “hi” to the locals residing in Albany campus.

As a “no-car” student walking is the only – not to mention also the healthiest – way of getting to and from: university, home, and supermarket (Yep, my life revolves around these three places). However, I have grown to really appreciate walking; being able to take the time to observe everything in your surrounding is truly a bliss.

Even the 5-min stroll -from the forever locked gates- off Bush Road to the rear carpark of the gym there are many resident species you would stumble upon. A regular are Pukekos, you can see them foraging in a group-always alert to any signs of disturbance. Last year, I was lucky enough to see their little grey-black feathered chicks with their weirdly out-of-proportion long legs rummaging about by the gravel pathway.

Australasian Magpies with their characteristic black and white plumage, are also regular birds I’ve encountered during my walks. Later, I learned they are from the same family as Crows Corvidae. Those massive birds have a particularly clever brain and loves shiny metallic objects. Trudging back home during the afternoons, they would creepily peer at on-comers from the low-lying trees by the Bush Road entrance – always watching…

If you hear annoying “seagull-like” calls then most likely they are the spur-winged Plovers – you can always tell them apart by their prominent yellow wattle and beak. I have once seen them chase the magpies in the skys; always reminding me of their presence by their loud screeching calls. I often see a band of around five of them circling above campus accommodations. Students living there are “so lucky” to be woken up every day naturally to the plovers’ alarm calls. I bet they don’t even need to set a morning alarm.

At Oteha Rohe campus, a much diverse range of species has established their homes here (due to Fernhill Escarpment bordering the campus). A rather elegant species is the White-faced Heron, treading on its slender stilt legs across misty pastures – it was such a surreal scene to see on uni grounds!

While the Puriri trees are blooming with a glory of flamboyant pink shades you would not miss the iridescent coloured bird – with a white tuxedo tie – feeding on its nectar. This NZ endemic is the Tui, often I see them perched within Kowhai, Puriri and Flax bushes feeding on their flowers. A definite highlight worth speculating during spring.

During lectures where you literally feel like dozing off (of course it’s not because of the lectuer), you could look out a window and try spotting a Fantail – yes, their tail literally fans out. Other frequent birds on campus are Blackbirds, Song thrush, and I’ve seen Welcome swallows zipping around in their fury of blues and reds.

I’m sure there are many more species out there on campus that I have yet to mention. So why not next time – when you take the opportunity to stroll on campus – try recognising some of these campus residents? You will be amazed at the biodiversity Massey university is blessed with.

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