Friday, November 3, 2017

A Portly Clumsy Drunk Paua Shell?

The Great Kereru Count of 2017 recently took place and to do my bit for the feathered fraternity I looked to the skies trying to locate our local Kererus. 

I became a danger to myself and others ...

...driving the car looking up at the power lines, and falling of the edge of footpaths gazing into tall trees and pockets of native bush as I walked. The risks involved were worth it because this bird is really lovely. I never knew much about Kereru before I moved to Otago, and in having them around constantly I've developed a fascination with them.

They are a hard bird to describe, but I'll give it a shot:

-  About the size of a Size20 frozen chook, the Kereru defies the odds in a way similar to a DHC4 Caribou aeroplane in that it looks like it shouldn't be able to fly because it is"portly".

- They always remind me of a portly matron or a nun with its blazing white bib ...but they also have a very small head.

- They are very graceful in flight in the same astonishing way my old scuba diving instructor glided underwater even though the ground shook when he walked on land and...

 ...his puku had cut off visibility of his nether regions...

... and feet for many years. When I get to see the display flight used in mating rituals I just stand and grin like an idiot because its so graceful.

- The noise made by a Kereru beating its wings is really loud; its the first thing that alerts you to its arrival. If you're not used to the noise you automatically duck expecting some giant bird of prey to swoop down and lift you off the ground by its talons.

- After hearing the beating of its wings you get to witness the most clumsy landing where for a good few moments you wonder if the bird is going to fall off the twig it has selected and be stuck upside down in the hedge for the afternoon. This is normal practice. And then there is the season when they gorge themselves on berries which ferment in their pukus... 

...and fall out of trees drunk as skunks.

- To my eyes the Kereru feather colours are a deeper, more saturated version of Paua shell colours. Just gorgeous!!

I have done so many paintings of the Kereru...and so why not one more!!  One of the trees they eat berries from (which result in much silliness and stupor) is the Karaka tree whose berries begin green and ripen through to lovely orange and yellow colours. 

I really wanted to capture the lush colours of the Kereru's plumage with the vibrant colours of the Karaka tree berries.

Kereru in the Karaka Tree

300mm W x 400mm H
Acrylic On Canvas

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