Birding "The Luminaries"

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
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Nikki McArthur
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Birding "The Luminaries"

Postby Nikki McArthur » Wed May 20, 2020 2:32 pm

Hi all,

Something a bit different...I've been indulging in a spot of armchair birding while watching the first couple of episodes of the TVNZ/BBC adaptation of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, and have been intrigued to note a surprising diversity of NZ bird species that pop up in the background soundscape of many of the outdoor scenes. I've picked up 12 species in this avian cast so far, in order of appearance:

common myna
black-backed gull
bellbird
chaffinch
albatross sp.
fantail
Australian magpie
red-billed gull
whitehead
banded dotterel
Cook's petrel
kaka

There's a few clangers regarding biogeography/chronology - the myna, chaffinch and magpie all make an appearance in Dunedin in 1865, which seems a tad early for at least the first two species, and whitehead are heard calling in the bush at Hokitika. On the other hand, someone's pulled off a stroke of biogeographical genius by adding Cook's petrel calls to a scene shot at night aboard a ship sailing from Dunedin to Hokitika. I have to admit the banded dotterel is a bit of a stretch - it hasn't yet cropped up in the feather, so to speak, but it does get a passing mention during some dialogue that takes place during the same scene in which the Cook's petrels make their cameo.

I don't recall birds featuring particularly prominently in the book itself, but the creation of a relatively diverse (and reasonably accurate) avian soundscape in the TV adaptation is quite a clever addition.

Cheers,
Nikki
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Nikki McArthur
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Re: Birding "The Luminaries"

Postby Nikki McArthur » Thu May 21, 2020 2:28 pm

Episode three adds seven more species to The Luminaries bird list: tui, goldfinch, greenfinch, house sparrow, morepork, silvereye and huia. The huia is admittedly a bit of a stretch - it appears in the form of a single feather worn on a character's head.
Last edited by Nikki McArthur on Fri May 22, 2020 8:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Nikki McArthur
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Re: Birding "The Luminaries"

Postby Nikki McArthur » Fri May 22, 2020 8:37 am

Episode four, and my list keeps growing - now up to 25 species. Latest additions are saddleback, kingfisher, NI kokako, whimbrel, ring-necked pheasant and pukeko.
Jim_j
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Re: Birding "The Luminaries"

Postby Jim_j » Fri May 22, 2020 9:35 am

Ha - you may never need to leave the house again....

cheers
jim
jgolden
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Re: Birding "The Luminaries"

Postby jgolden » Sat May 23, 2020 1:44 pm

I binge watched Country Calendar during Level 4 and did a fair bit of birding. The fishing episodes were the best, lol. Should've kept a list.
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Nikki McArthur
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Re: Birding "The Luminaries"

Postby Nikki McArthur » Sat May 23, 2020 7:46 pm

Haha, funny. To be honest I'm enjoying this almost as much as going outside and watching the real thing. Episode five and my species-episode curve may now be approaching its asymptote - just one new species added to the list: variable oystercatcher.
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Re: Birding "The Luminaries"

Postby Steps » Sun May 24, 2020 8:55 am

Not a lot of comments but definitely a lot views, following this thread..
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Nikki McArthur
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Re: Birding "The Luminaries"

Postby Nikki McArthur » Mon May 25, 2020 9:36 am

Final episode and just one further species added to my list - kereru. This gives me a grand total of 27 species for the series. Those with sharper eyes and ears could possibly get to at least 30. There was a shearwater species (sooty?) that cropped up in a couple of scenes, a kiwi sp. and either yellowhead or brown creeper calling elsewhere, but I wasn't 100% confident on these.

One interesting omission was NI robin. There's an ubiquitous NI robin recording that keeps turning up in many locally-made TV productions, often calling in the most inappropriate settings, but it didn't make an appearance this time around.

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