On my way to the ‘long drop’ in the morning I heard a distinctive sound in the tree tops: a ‘whoosh-whoosh’ of wings. Aha, a wood pigeon! I thought, and sure enough, there it was perched in the top branches of the kawakawa, pulling off one candle-shaped fruit after another.

It was so absorbed in this morning feast that I was able to approach quite close and photograph its graceful movements. The kereru, as the Maori call it, is a rare visitor, and I’m always in awe of this beautiful bird. It’s breast is white and fat, yet the head and neck are slender and elegant. It’s so big I’m always surprised to see it flying.

At the end of its feeding session it winged its way up into the sky, then swooped down into some far away trees. I was left feeling stilled by my encounter with this priest of the tree tops.