01 May, 2011

It wanted to eat the dog

About twenty minutes upriver is the Peregrine Winery.  We stop there on our way to Arrowtown where we sometimes go to get our morning coffee.  "The Peregrine" is a bird of prey, also known as "The New Zealand Falcon" and also "The Karearea."

This amazing bird has got attitude.  It's a mean hunting machine and does not give up it's prey easily. It's also not large and this actual size bronze sculpture shows that well.  Notice the 'Peregrine Pinot Noir' and 'The Karearea Pinot Gris' behind.    
Note the wine names.

I had never seen a falcon, as they are rare and I think stay high in the mountains.  In the winter time perhaps they will come down.  Then in July 2010 (our southern winter) one made a low fast pass.  Probably at Doggie.  Doggie and myself were about two meters apart, near the drive,near the front gate,   I was weeding around some small trees while Doggie played around.
It's a good life being a Doggie.
A falcon came from behind me at full speed  (70-100km per hour ) and passed by at waist height, close enough to touch if I reached out, and just as close to the dog. I think it was interested in the dog but then decided against that.  Doggie is small but he is bigger than the rabbits that the falcons apparently eat around here.

The Falcon shot about one hundred meters out, did a fancy turn, scared a flock of birds, and passed back over our heads, only a couple of meters up.  It then perched in a pine tree where it could watch us.

And watched us for quite a while. Doggie was being given good consideration.

The New Zealand Falcon is rare.  Many people, including myself have never seen one.  We see plenty of the larger Harrier Hawk here, but the hawk is quite different from the Falcon once you know what to look for.

In our field we often come across the remains of a rabbit.  It's not clear to me who or what causes that although I have seen hawks carrying small rabbits.  Each pair of falcons needs a hunting territory large enough to feed themselves and their young. The territory can vary from 9 square kilometres in open country, to 75 square kilometres in dense forest where prey is harder to find. They defend their area from other falcons.

I will be watching, there has been more going on in the field than I realised.  And I need to keep an eye on Doggie

The Peregrine Winery is a stylish place as are the wines.
The barrel room
The roof of the building represents the Peregrines wing.
Peregrine winery.  


  1. That bird might have had a go but it would have been the last go it would ever have taken had it took on the dog.
    Whats with all the huge wineries. There are times when I look at NZ, Oz or Chile and it's Falcon Crest or the Château Mouton Rothschild I see. Surely there is a point where we're back filling a wine lake on a global scale and not just for the EEC.
    Nowadays, I don't drink. But when I did you could get a variety of wine from Bulgaria to California at a reasonable price. That price point for a fair wine is now well beyond the pocket of most. Such that most wine these days is easy drinking boring derivative rubbish.

  2. And does it have solar panels on the unseen side?

  3. Vince.
    Yes this bird would have a go. They are known as quite crazy, and relentless. But be not so sure of the outcome. These things might be to small to carry off the dog, or a human, but they are no so easy to deal with.

  4. Vince - I could not disagree more. There are great wines at great prices now. More than ever before. As for the Falconcrest thing. Why not.
    But sometimes you just don't pay what is requested. At the Pinot Masterclass on Saturday (3x Central Otago, 3x Oregon, 3x Burgundy) We passed on the $NZ7000.00 bottle of the Grand Cru and went for th e bottle from just over the stone wall.
    I probably not skilled enough to tell the difference anyway. There is as well the high likelyhood the cheaper one is better anyway.

  5. Kerry, having a falcon buzz you, must be a dizzying and exceptional experience. I would wonder what just happened! It may have thought, "Oh goodie, a nice big rabbit", referring to Doggie. The photo of him running looks like he's running from the persuing falcon and makes a good illustration to the post!

    I like wine. That winery roof is fabulous and may shade the building causing it to be cooler in summer, huh?

  6. Thanks Sue.
    The doggie photo is a year or two earlier but illustrates exactly where he was an what he was doing.
    However that birdie came thru at lightening speed. No warning and no chance to run.
    The winery is a concrete bunker mostly buried in the ground. Which is quite sensible for a winery. The roof is separate in a way. But the winery forms a stage and the roof is the stage roof. They run mega outdoor concerts there. Mostly old (real old) californian rockers from the 60s it seems to me. But a good way to waste a summer eveniing.

  7. "Old (real old) californian rockers" hahaha!

  8. A stage! How clever to plan that in. They have concerts at Kirstenbosch, but have had to 'add' a stage, which doesn't blend in happily.
    Was interested and amused to see that Prince Charles Aston Martin is converted to run on biodiesel using waste from English wineries.

  9. Beautiful pictures! I would be scared of a falcon being that close, but at least it makes for a good photo!

  10. Sorry you misunderstand me. I'm not on about the small to medium sized. But Guinness et al is today the largest producer of wine in the world. And what it brings to the table is an active volume of cash that none of the smaller players can compete. They can buy entire valleys in wherever they decide remove every vine to replace with what they decide is the future. Guinness is not the only group playing this game but they are by far the wealthiest.
    The result. A wine like a Macdonald burger, manufactured rather that created.

  11. Vince. All is forgiven. It seems(often)there are three stages of development of the wine industry. 1. Eccentric Pioneers. 2. Monied professionals from town. and 3. Corporates.
    Here it seems we are in stage two. No Corporates yet. And the monied professionals vary a lot. (Also sometimes hard to differentiate from the eccentric) Mostly they are interesting people - and used to getting things done. So there are a few monuments. As for the bad taste. Not so much around here. But look at 'Craggy Range' in Hawkes bay for an over the top example.
    Around here you might come across a group of men and women in work clothes and big boots in the vineyard. You might find it hard to work out who is the owner, the one that made the 100 million in New York before the age of 35, and has come home to have fun in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
    Make great wine too.


I would love to hear from you on any of these posts. This blog is not daily news and I will respond to comments even on backdated posts.