The Wing-Friends and Other Books

In Blogger's slideshows images are greatly reduced, so lose much of their impact. And captions added to them in Picasa Albums vanish, so the images shown above are: the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, Earth, Earth with New Zealand circled, New Zealand, Auckland & the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island, some native NZ forest, a Fantail and chicks, various doves, etc.

(If you want to see the first ten images in their original size, they are in a posting made on the 24th of November 2011.)

My book The Wing-Friends is an imaginative tale of a small brave boy, a magical adventure, a magnificent Pegasus and the wonderful Kingdom of the Pegasi. It has been given very good reviews, and virtually every reader on Goodreads has so far awarded it five stars. It is available here. Some of my other writings are available as e-books, such as The Lower Deck, which is an over-the-top take on Waiheke happenings--sort of.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


You were the first to perch on my arm, when you were still a chick two years ago. The second one was LightFeet, the bird who was to become your beloved mate. I called you BigFeet2 because you had so many feathers on your feet that they looked bigger than they really were, and I had already named another bird BigFeet for the same reason. It was not a beautiful name, but you were a very beautiful bird. Beautiful black eyes with grey circlets, like your mate, and a beautiful, placid nature; you always wore a very contented expression. She was the next to be named after you, and because she had only a few tiny feathers on her legs and one or two on her feet, she became LightFeet. You made a wonderful, loving pair.

You were the only one in the flight that I could recognise easily from a distance. And you also had a endearing personality all of your own. You were the second tamest of the flight. Only your mate was tamer. And you came inside more and spent more time inside than any other dove except her. You had the best manners of the flight, you were a gentleman among doves, your company inside was always pure pleasure. Even your wonderful mate, whose manners are also excellent, did not surpass you.

You almost never demanded to be fed, you just flew to the covers over the music keyboard in my office, because you knew I would have left your favourite food there (the rough-ground grain from tasty toasted muesli), and when you had eaten it all, unlike RedFeet who would coo 'More!' ever more loudly, you would just stand there looking hopeful, or would fly across to the covers over the fax on the desk beside me and look at me hopefully until I fetched more. You knew where the muesli was kept and you would look eagerly at my hand and the container whenever I reached for it, quivering with anticipation.

You had the same favourite places in my office as your beloved mate to snooze after eating, or to groom yourself. And you often spent hours inside with her grooming yourself and her. You even mated with her inside: your brief angelic fluttering of passionate white wings as she crouched below you.

Almost every morning your routine was the same. You rarely missed. You flew down to the feeding-place with the rest of the flight and perched on my left knee when I crouched down to feed them all, starting with two pieces of bread. You knew that I would feed you specially, as I did F1 (Mrs Friendly 1), whose favourite place at those times was my left hand, atop the first piece of bread, and that my knee was far enough from her so that she could not push you off. You also knew that I had two pieces of bread, and that
the other one was in my breast pocket, so while I was tearing off little bits for them from the first piece, you would poke your head into my pocket and start eating the second one.

You had also noticed that after throwing down rolled oats for the flight I would go round the back of the building and do something then return to the front door, so you would wait for me on the porch, knowing that as soon as I opened the door you could scoot in and fly up the music keyboard where there would be tasty muesli.

But you were not in your normal place yesterday morning (the 6th of February, Waitangi Day), and your mate spent all day inside, which had never happened before. I did not see you at all, all day. You were missing again this morning, and again I did not see you all day.

Finally, fearing the worst, I went looking for some sign of what had happened. I searched some of my forest. Nothing. Then I went over into the forest in the adjoining reserve, and to my dismay found many dove feathers scattered near a big tree. Obviously a cat had ended your life. You must have put up a fight, because there were concentrations of feathers in three places. But there was no sign of your remains, so I
cannot even bury you under Dove Rock, the great boulder where I buried the ones that fell ill and died.

People are told to put a bell round cats' necks so that they cannot sneak up on birds, and they are told that they should not even have them if they live near a native reserve. But they ignore that, so fell murder stalks the forest.

Farewell, beautiful bird. I shall miss you for ever. May your murderer meet a swift end, and soon!

BigFeet2 and LightFeet


Wednesday, 6 February 2013


LightFeet, the tamest in the flight of wild doves in this forest, has often been in my office for long periods, but never anything like the length of time she spent there today.

She came in at about half past nine in the morning and did not leave till five o'clock in the evening, so she was here for seven and a half hours. She ate and snoozed (mainly in her favourite place on a high shelf), and ate and snoozed, and ate and snoozed, and ate and snoozed.

She has for some time been coming in in the afternoons and eating voraciously, while her mate BigFeet2 has been coming in in the mornings and late evenings, so I think they must have been taking it in turns to feed a chick. Before that they would usually come in together.

The appearance yesterday on the ground of a new chick and the sudden change in LightFeet's behaviour makes me think that she and her mate are the chick's parents, and now that it's on the ground they need not work for it as they have been.

But whatever the reason she had a very relaxing day, as you can see.

In both photos she is sitting on the edge of a high shelf above my desk, looking down at me as I work (the yellow cast on her feathers in the second shot is an artefact of the office light, which the flash did not entirely over-ride).

[Footnote: As the next post reveals, my assumptions about the sudden change in LightFeet's behaviour were, sadly, wrong. I profoundly wish that they had been right.]

Monday, 4 February 2013


If you have read other posts on 'my' doves, you will know that the tamest pair in the flight, and the ones that spend more time in my office than the others are LightFeet and BigFeet2 (so named because compared with his feathery feet and legs hers are lightly feathered, and she was named directly after him, well before they became mates; and he was the second with feet like that).

It is hard to get a closeup of fast-moving doves but I managed earlier to get a fairly good one of them earlier, feeding on muesli on the paper towels that protect the music keyboard--which they make straight for whenever they come inside. I particularly like the way LightFeet's eye has come out. It shows how calm and tame she is, even in the face of a flash going off close to her, and how beautiful her eyes are. As you can see she has grey circlets round them, as does her mate. Many doves have pink ones, but I think the grey is the most beautiful.

LightFeet also has another distinguishing feature--that vertical groove in the feathers on her neck and breast. She has had it since she was a chick. She is also the only one in the flight who purrs. She will settle happily on my shoulder and purr in my ear. She likes being there.


It's not quite 'We have a problem, Houston,' but the latest addition to the flight of doves in my forest, a chick that appeared with the rest at breakfast-time this morning, has just found that fluttering down from the nest for the first time is not as easy as getting back up.

When the rest of the flight went up to their high roosts for the night the chick tried to follow them, but could not get more than a few centimetres off the ground. Its head bobbed about as doves' heads do when they are having a think or are worrying about something, and it was obviously doing both when it contemplated trying to fly just the three metres to the roof on that side of the building, but even that was too much. It had a wander to and fro, fro and to, to and fro, fro and to, to and fro, then tried again, but it was just too daunting. Fluttering is not flying, and fluttering is all it can manage, or summon up the courage for. And strong flying is needed to get to a treetop roost twenty or twenty-five metres off the ground.

It was too quick for me to catch it and take it up a ladder to the roof, so in the end it went under the building, as other new chicks have.

I hope there's no passing cat during the night. But it is better fledged than some other new chicks have been, so if it survives it should not be long before it gets the courage and the strength of wings to be what it is: a wild dove, born in the forest, a creature of air and tall green trees.

(Footnote, next morning: it was alive and well and wailing to every adult to be fed.)