Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Orchids or 'awkwards' as I prefer to call them because they are so difficult to photograph. They are so small and tricky to show off their features effectively and there is always a breeze in the bush the moment I start to use the camera. Then of course you have to find them to begin with. Yesterday there were heaps around, Pterostylis agathicola in little groups.
Recovering from Man Flu, so I was unsure if a six hour trek in  bush terrain was a good idea but  soon was distracted by the beauty around and although without a map I trusted my companion with her GPS to make sure we were not going around in circles.

 The purpose of todays trek was to check out possible sites for more predator traps.

After crossing this stream several times we found the perfect spot for a picnic lunch  and Wow, the beautiful waterfall nearby. This is Hochstetter and Kaka habitat but we saw neither today.

We came out of the bush late afternoon and settled for an ice cream before heading to Brick bay where to my delight I spotted a bellbird feeding on watsonia flowers. It was a dark olive green with that unmistakable long beak that entered the flowers seeking nectar. This is my first sighting of a non captive bird on the mainland. Very likely from Tiritiri Matangi Island???

Saturday, September 21, 2013


What an interesting property this is, owned by Cynthia and James, who were the perfect hosts today allowing us a free rein of their wonderful bush property above Hatfields beach.

 The site has been owned by the Mackenzie family for 83 years with the fast disappearing habitat dubbed gumland scrub. There are some very interesting orchids and I have never seen so many sundew plants before.

 Photos and more to follow..............

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Helican!

Six Pelican at Waipu - Saturday 14th September

A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I'm damned if I see how the helican!
Dixon Lanier Merritt

Yesterday we began our walk with a tasty chocolate brownie from the local store which was to see us through until a picnic lunch at the end of the spit.

It was good to see six Pelicans in the distance on the far side of the river at Waipu. About a week ago five flew over Pakiri. 
These birds from Australia arrived in New Zealand under their own steam so they become Natives to add to our biodiversity.

Ice plant is everywhere and other invasive plants above the sarcocornia and marsh rush. Just a few patches  of coastal ribbonwood so not much cover for banded rail . I love this saltmarsh habitat.

We saw Harrier circling overhead and Paradise ducks too. Just three pairs of dotterel and one single. Some of the birds are banded. I photographed these to pass on the information.(A more recent visit has counted 11 pairs across the area). A Caspian tern did a flyby searching the river for fish. At the mouth of the estuary about 30 black backed gulls were feeding. A skylark sang to us from high in the sky.

Today had a cool sharp  South Westerly breeze which seemed to swing around to a North North Westerly at times. However the rain kept off until we were within running distance of the car, left at the car park at Waipu. Then time to dry off during the drive home to look forward to a warm by the fire.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Love is in the Air

This sequence of photographs of copulating Variable Oystercatchers was taken today about an hour and a half after high tide on a shell bank at Shoal bay

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hauraki Gulf Forum

I have just returned as a representative for the North Shore branch of  Forest and Bird from  the all day Hauraki Gulf Forum and the evening launch of the Sea Change Spatial plan. These events were  held at Auckland  Museum. .

This was an all day event outlining the way forward for planning and management of a range of activities including protecting the special environment of the Hauraki Gulf . The tool to do this is the Spatial plan which is to be called Sea Change and this was launched this evening by Nick Smith.

Spatial plans have been used overseas and their objective is to involve all stakeholders  in the  planning and management of important areas rather than leaving that entirely to market forces.

At the end of the Forum it was time for the  Jim Holdaway awards for leadership which went to

 Dr Rochelle Constantine for her advocacy for the Hauraki Gulf Brydes whale population.

Keith Woodley for encouraging awareness of the shorebirds of the Firth of Thames and the environment on which they depend.

 Chris Gaskin for his advocacy for seabirds and conservation and notably the recent research project  that confirmed the breeding place of the NZ storm petrel

 Photos and more to follow.....................

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tiri with the Auckland Museum

What a great idea to bring the experts from the Auckland  museum to Tiri and have them lead groups around the island for visitors interested in botany, ornithology, archaeology, entomology and marine (rocky shore) life.

I decided to join the marine and entomology groups and thoroughly enjoyed a different take on the Islands natural history.

 More to follow............

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just a walk in the Park

When a friend contacts you and asks you to go for a 'walk in the park' and also asks that you  carry three dozen eggs, you could believe that you are heading for a very  tasty alfresco omelette.

 The reality dawned seven hours later when we emerged from the challenging but beautiful bush having checked and re-baited 36 traps, re-tagged the trail with orange tape and checked out a few other trap lines while we were there.

 A worthwhile day in the hope that we will one day get on top of all the predators that keep our lovely bush areas free of bird song. A comparison with some of the Islands in the Gulf shows what can be done if stoats, weasels, hedgehogs and rats are removed.

Keeping  mainland bush, predator free is a real challenge if it doesn't have a predator proof fence encircling it.

Oh and guess who broke the 32nd egg?