Down here in the Southern Hemisphere I’m able to see novel plant and animal species, many of them just outside my front door. Because I’m not an ornithologist or botanist, and because I’m too lazy to track down the proper names of species, I’ve taken to calling species new to me a variety of arbitrary names.
Spiky Plant – These plants are death incarnate. Never touch them. Don’t step on them. You can try to kill them, but dried out specimens are rendered even more poky and splintery and dangerous.
Pretty, But Too Sprawling For My Sidewalk, Bush
As for the animal life, Dunedin boasts an alarming amount of stray cats. Sometimes they sit outside my window. Sometimes I pet them in the streets. Sometimes I see them running around carrying a bag of trash in their mouths. Nasty.
Cats are the only mammals I have seen around Otago. I think birds came and replaced all usual non-bird inhabitants. The spry little brown ones are Dunedin’s squirrels and the crafty (or possibly just plain stupid- I can’t tell if they’re faking), black ones are the raccoons, seagulls are the rats. Cute Bird (what I collectively call all the little brown squirrel replacements) is round and fluffy. Every time I see one I am overcome with the urge to grab one – he would fit so snugly in my hand – and turn into Lenny chasing a mouse. I have a very skewed view of Cute Bird and am unsure of his true appearance; to me, he looks like this:
Carl – My friends and I have taken to calling the black feathered and orange beaked birds “Carl.” It’s a name that just seemed to fit. Any Carl sighting will inevitably feature spastic Carl fruitlessly bashing a seedpod against the ground and/or lying in a sad-looking heap on the side of the road. His roadside lounging technique suggests that he is attempting to play dead, but he always moves his head… and that defeats the purpose of playing dead….
Fat Pterodactyl – This particular species resembles a prehistoric, sumo-esque pigeon. It is so hefty that it can barely lift itself from the ground, and this exertion is probably what causes it to make the LOUDEST FLAPPING NOISE EVER.
Penguins – New Zealand has a sizable penguin population. You can’t find them waddling around campus, but you can track them down a short drive away towards the coast. I thought it was weird that penguins were able to survive in New Zealand until I came to Dunedin and experienced the weather first-hand.