Sunday, October 24, 2010

...tomtits, paunch cutters and motorcycles...

When the context of your research is the real world (wait, isn't all research fully applicable to everyday life? No...oh right!) it is easy to become distracted. The trick is to fret and flap about your research as much as possible until it almost, but not quite, limits your ability to have any fun at all. I'd mastered such a skill up until the day before yesterday when I hit what I think was the first wall.

I did, in true tree geek style react in the only way possible...trudge off into a National park for several hours of largely uphill trekking. I had a good time though, so enjoying myself watching the tomtits and tuis that I didnt notice what must have been a million sharp things I wandered through. When I got back to my accomodation it looked like I'd gotten into a fight with a combine harvester with scratches on all bare skin. Despite being cut to ribbons I had a blast :)

I slept like the dead after an intense week. I had sloshed around a piggery watching fat piglets squirm delightedly in the mud. I then went to a rendering plant, savouring the delicious odour of rotting flesh and blood drying merrily in the sun, all the while enduring the most matter-of-fact description of exactly why paunch cutters are crucial parts of the process. Finally I discovered the joys of the killing floor of a meatworks and....well, long held visions of vegetarianism moved sharply back into focus and the mass produced meat industry will no longer recieve my custom.

I woke this morning and prepared to ship out of sleepy Stratford. The day started well with free range eggs and SOLDIERS (some people never grow up!) and the drive through to Levin was uneventful despite onerous traffic reports. I took a minor twitchers detour to Kuku Beach which I knew to have shorebirds present. Sure enough before long I had my binos trained on a bunch of them, scurrying happily around the dunes and flats. A horrendous sound and flying mud all over where a pair of oystercatchers were quietly sitting brought into view a motorcycle rider.

Said rider was shouting for an ambulance and me and a pair of tourists also attempting to bird watch as they scooted noisily and dangerously all over the dunes quickly obliged in ringing triple 1. Turned out that while jumping over a dune (shorebird habitat *cough* waahi tapu *cough*) one of their mates had managed to break his femur. What then ensued could have been a silent movie, black and white of course. Frantic piano music could have easily accompanied the confused fluffing of the scores of locals that quickly showed up.

There were many cooks in this here kitchen, and the first plan to emerge from this gaggle was to bring the guy back off the beach (3km away) on the bike. I gently pointed out that if they were to nick the femoral artery with an edge of broken bone they would have all of two minutes left alive with their friend. That ended that concept thankfully and they then set to work figuring out which of them would go onto the beach in the 4wd with the trailer to apparently 'carefully' transport him out on the flatdeck and which of them would stay back and guard their bikes.

Thankfully as the self appointed medics were setting off, the ambos arrived and it was decided that since the beach was now apparently impassable to the 4wd, it could only be crossed in a tractor. One of the riders helpfully piped up that he had a tractor and would go and get it. St John's finest agreed to go in on motorbike and have the chap follow them in his tractor which seemed a good solution. I dusted my hands of the whole pending disaster and headed off back to the main road.

Halfway up the road, Tractor Guy waved me down. He'd managed to run out of gas and faced a 1.5km walk if he was to get his tractor down to the beach. I told him to leave his bike roadside and hop in and drove him to his farm. He reeked of alcohol, but in that acrid way that makes you think he sees drinking as a marathon not a sprint. I dropped him off and headed for the nations capital where I now sit reflecting on a rather odd week in the wild Naki. Let's see what the windy city has in store....

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting drive to Levin... I never knew bird watching was so fraught with excitement. Of course it must be rather more than exciting for those whose habitat is ripped to shreds every weekend.
    I used to detour along the Muriwai beach after work at times and once stopped draw the attention of some riders to the signs that stated that the dunes were fragile and forbade riding... "#$%&! shove off!"
    Needless to say, my sympathy runs thin for the broken femur