Tui full of (often grating) surprises

"Our tui imitates a microwave ending its cycle," a reader says. "And a friend has given up checking her cellphone every time she hears a text-message-received tone." Another reader said she would gladly exchange the wolf-whistling tui for another of their locals, which imitates the sound of a neighbour's reversing bus and - worse - their almost continuously screaming child. "It's driving our neighbourhood crazy!" And Dame Cath Tizard says that back in the 1990s Government House in Auckland had a resident tui "which would repeatedly sing the first few bars of It's a Great Day for the Irish in perfect tune for the first notes but went flat on 'Irish'."

Garage sale coincidences

Ken writes: "Trawling through a roadside garage sale in Helensville on Saturday, my wife picked up a twin to a mug that she was given 30 years ago. An owl on a branch, gazing at her chick. A elderly Scottish man who was also hunting through the items on display saw our interest in it and asked if the name of a certain factory in the UK was on the base. It was. Turned out, he was once the head of the maintenance team at the factory. The mug now sits next to its twin in our pantry."


Dangerous relaxation

Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare announced in April that it would begin a national inquiry over the alarming number of bathtub deaths last year - nearly three times the number of those killed in traffic accidents. News reports pointed out that many Japanese workers relax in tubs at the end of the day, even when they have overimbibed and are vulnerable to drowning. (

Keeping abreast of the art world

A contestant auditioning for Thailand's Got Talent shocked judges and earned producers a government dressing down after she doused her breasts with paint and used them to paint a canvas.The 23-year-old woman was demurely dressed and spoke politely to the three judges. But she turned her back to the camera, faced a canvas and pots of paint, and removed her shirt and bra. After dousing herself with buckets of yellow, green, red and black paint, she "painted" a canvas with her naked torso. Thailand's culture minister, Sukumol Khunploem, rebuked producers. "There must be limits to artist expression," she said.