I finally got my wish for a fantail sighting! After spending a couple of months in New Zealand and only seeing the cute little birds from a distance, I was determined that I wanted to experience one up close and had heard that this happens regularly! And the experience was well beyond what I imagined! The only thing that did NOT happen was that the fantail did not light on my shoulder like Snow White! Another Fulbright teacher, Emily Stanley (from Maryland studying sustainability and natural resources in education), and I were traveling over the Easter Holiday on Golden Bay near Abel Tasman National Park. We had the most amazing accommodations through AirBnB.com at this Eco Retreat set along a hillside overlooking Golden Bay. The setting was stunning and the couple that owns the retreat have an adorable little dog, Tillie, that is the official beach tour guide. Whomever is the leash holder is also the holder of Tillie’s attention and affection! Being that Emily and I both are missing our dogs back in the States, Tillie is a perfect stand in! It was fantastic! She led us down the path of the 10 minute walk down to the beach and would stop several times ahead of us and look very disgusted if we were not following quickly enough! The path winds through several densely forested areas including one portion that is of these enormous eucalyptus trees and the fragrance is incredibly soothing to the nose! In an area of the path before the eucalyptus trees, there is a small stream and lower type vegetated area that we started to notice a couple of quail through the trees. Then, low and behold, several little fantails! Just as Emily had described her earlier experiences with them, they were quite talkative little animals zipping back and forth across the path and doing fly-bys of Tillie’s head. Adorable! And their little faces with what looks like little white beards and white eyebrows are so expressive! I thought their behavior might be aggressive or territorial with their chattering to us and at us, but the owner of our retreat had a different idea that they are excited because as we walk, our footsteps are scattering up food for them! Not sure which is the correct answer, but I am sure glad for the up close and personal experience either way!!
I have to give complete photo credit to my Fulbright teacher friend, Emily Stanley, for her stunning photos with a great camera for the next few pics and for the featured image at the top!
Tillie – best beach guide ever!!!