Monday, November 15, 2010

Gilbert White's Place

Now recognized as one of the first ecologists Gilbert White's famous book "The Natural History of Selbourne" is also one of the most printed books. Considering he was writing in England in the 1700's that is quite an achievement and I just had to revisit this delightful area of Hampshire on a recent visit to the UK. The village is still a special place with the historic church and churchyard where White is buried in a simple grave . Unfortunately the 1400 year old yew tree in the churchyard was destroyed by a violent storm in 1990.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Basket for what?

I am always amazed at the huge variety of interesting shapes, textures and colours that nature produces. It certainly isn't a case of 'one size fits all'. I found this basket fungus in Kauri Glen reserve. This specimen is more or less intact, unlike others I found that were damaged. The fungus attracts flies by its smell and texture as part of its future species 'support system'. The flies spread the sticky spores to other locations.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Gannets are back!

It was good to see that the gannet's are back at the Muriwai cliff colony


I have to confess this picture of a tuatara was not taken in the wild but was taken at Auckland zoo on Saturday. Tuatara are an ancient species found only in New Zealand and dating back 225 million years to the age of dinosaurs.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Wednesday the 18th of August 2010 was the official opening of the carefully renovated Wilson Cottage by the Wilson Home Trust on the Wilson Centre, cliff-top site at Takapuna.

This cottage was rescued from demolition to make way for the construcion of the new Wilson School building during 2007-2008.

The historic cottage was moved from the corner of Lake Road and St. Leonard's Road (as shown in this picture) to its present location nearer the main buildings and within view of the Wilson chapel which was recently awarded an 'Enduring Architecture Award'.

The cottage will be used by the Wilson Trust as office accommodation and as a wedding reception venue.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Molly Goes Home!

I took this photograph of Molly Brett the UK artist and author of children's books, on a misty October morning many years ago. Miss Brett was collecting autumnal material, including bracken and fungi on Horsell Common to help with the preparation of another painting.

It was years later that I confirmed that it was indeed Molly Brett when some UK friends visiting New Zealand identified the artist from a framed enlargement I have in my hallway.

The photo accompanied with my diary notes have now returned to the UK to be part of an exhibition at the Lightbox Gallery entitled - Escape to Wonderland: A History of Children's Book Illustration.

The exhibition runs from the 7th August until the 2nd of Febuary 2011
Sadly Molly died in 1990 at the age of 88.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Palms out -Natives in?

Some years ago a cluster of rather large Queen Palms were planted on the small Hauraki Corner reserve on the seaward side of lake road. These have recently been removed as part of the lake road upgrade project and to make way for an enlarged reserve. It will be interesting to see if and what natives will be planted to enhance the area and replace these trees..

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Awesome Progress!

The new Navy museum site is taking shape after a huge transformation from the old sheds on the Torpedo Bay site. The run down RNZNSC site has been tidied up to make way for the museum upgrade. I believe the new museum will be opening in late 2010.
A recently restored 4'' gun has been located in the lock up below the cliff. Count Felix Von Luckner was Torpedo Bays most famous prisoner. He was famous for his daring escape from Motuihe Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Orchids in Kauri Park Reserve

Today I searched again for the diminutive Acianthus Sinclairii orchids in Kauri Park Reserve. I found them growing on the banks of a footpath and in between Kauri tree roots. Their distinctive leaves are easy to identify. Many were in flower.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Good Vibrations?

Normally a sound sleeper, I wondered why in the last few weeks it was that I had woken in what seemed like the middle of the night with the thought that maybe an earthquake was occurring. The answer turned out to be that the Lake road upgrading project were using heavy machinery during the early hours of the morning to avoid the rush hour mayhem. I took this photo in 2007 when during the Esmonde road / Lake road upgrading the workmen came across a Maori shell midden much to the delight of archaeologists. Its hard to conjure up a vision now of families fishing and feasting from a gently sloping beach from Lake road to the sea.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Over!

It appears that commonsense has prevailed and the proposed mining of schedule 4, sensitive conservation land will not go ahead.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Silvereye are back!

Apparently silvereye are back after a population crash due to the avian pox. A recent survey seems to be showing that they have made a recovery. These delightful visitors to our garden are more than welcome.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Like the Rain!

Which is just as well as I headed back to the Queens Wharf today to have another look at Sheds 10 &11. However as I left the shelter of Shed 10 the heavens opened. No that's not me with the umbrella entering through the Queens Wharf gates.

Friday, July 16, 2010

So what's wrong with Shed 10?

So far a wise outcome to the Auckland Queens wharf shed debate. An agreement to restore the near 100 year old shed 10, remove shed 11 and create areas for the Rugby World Cup 'party central' and the cruise ship terminal. Hopefully a good compromise that avoids yet another hasty demolition for a very short term gain and wastes money on a temporary building just for a party.
I like the comment architect Tony Watkins made, "The sheds have spent a lifetime getting ready for a party. No architect can create that magic". Apparently 22 architects have signed a letter in support of saving the sheds from demolition.
You only have to look at the beautifully restored Central Post Office just up the road from the wharf to see the possibilities. Or across the water in Devonport to see the restoration project on the old Torpedo bay sheds for the 'new' Navy museum.
Underneath that tacky cladding there are the bones of an historic structure. So what's wrong with shed 10?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A last minute call to head to the Waitakere Ranges with Margi Keys from 'Bush Walk and Talk'. On the way to Whatipu we stopped for a walk along Cornwallis beach. The sea was flat and calm and fantails with their flickering flight kept us amused as we tried to get photos of their antics. On the distant headland the pine trees had been carefully sculptured so we could see the tall obelisk monument to early settlers to this area.
Then continued on beyond Little Huia along the gravel track to Whatipu. This is a wild but beautiful landscape. Watched a lone NZ dotterel feeding alongside one of the streams that cross the beach to the sea. Paradise ducks in the distance beyond the lakes behind the dunes.
A small lone fishing boat motored Northwards hugging the coastline perhaps to avoid crossing the treacherous bar.
Plenty of walkers and people out fishing from the rocks on what was a perfect 'blue sky' winters day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mnt Ruapehu Region

Just back from a visit to Mount Ruapehu. We stayed on the Turoa side of the mountain at Ohakune this time and had a beautiful ride up the mountain including the ski lift . It was a very clear day with little wind and quite warm. Not all the days were so good but a little rain brings out the atmosphere of the New Zealand bush (forest) on the lower slopes of the mountain, so I wasn't complaining.
The 'locals' were saying that the mountain needed more snow and more visitors to kick the ski season into action.