Of the trees around Halswell in winter, this one outside Craythornes on Halswell Road must be one of my favourites. Although the tree looks like any other eucalypt, the bellbird song cascades forth at this time of year to the benefit of Craythornes' customers (and anyone walking or biking past). This reminds us that it's rather cold up on the Port Hills, and food correspondingly scarce.
We were talking at home this past week about the August 1992 snowfall. At that time, we lived in Kenndys Bush Road along from Halswell School. When we got up on that snowy morning, three goldfinches were huddled together outside the front door, having passed away in the night through cold and lack of food. Our oldest daughter, then four years old, still remembers.
In the old days, before furry mammals turned up, bellbirds could, and did, feed safeky on the ground. With intensive pest control in many Port Hills reserves, this habit is returning. On mammal-free seabird islands, bellbirds have alway fossicked around seabird burrows and in beach-cast kelp along the seashore. Going past Craythornes' tree reminds me both what we've lost in the way of biodiversity and what we've still got.