Monday, 31 October 2011

Summer around the corner

We have recently returned from three weeks down in Christchurch so missed what by all accounts was some cold and miserable weather at Mahakirau. Since
we arrived back in the forest last week we have enjoyed some beautiful weather with no rain and little wind. Temperatures have generally been in the 10-20 degree range.
Birds are very active - especially the kereru. We appear to have half a dozen or so individuals around the house and they spend much of their time cooing to each other, feeding on the abundant supply of bright orange pigeonwood berries or swooping down from the tall rata ending in their spectacular stall and dive displays. It is easy to believe that they take an interest in our activities as when we are working outside they conduct low level flybys close overhead. The tui also appear to take an interest in us as they noisily swoosh past - particularly if we are sitting or bending down. They have been conducting some spectacular high speed dives from a considerable height. They plunge vertically down into the bush before averting disaster at the last minute with terrific feather noise as they brake out of their dives.
Two morepork join us when we are on the deck in the evening. They sit just above us in the totara either watching us or chasing the puriri moths attracted by the floodlights.
On the night of the rugby world cup final we had two possums on the deck. According to Bruce, who is currently working on the estate on pest control, possum numbers are low. These were the first we had seen since returning. Nonetheless we trapped three around the house on the following two nights so they are around. Bruce has also taken out two goats and pigs and saw a ferret feeding on a dead possum.

Shining cuckoo and kingfishers are in good numbers and are calling noisily but apart from during the dawn chorus, bellbirds are fairly quiet. They may be well into their nesting activities. Grey warblers, silvereye and fantails are evident but I have not heard tomtit around the house since we came back. A harrier was displaying high above the house today and californian quail are back near the picnic area. The rosellas are busy and have been very vocal with several pairs in the picnic area valley.

White rata (Metrosideros diffusa), olearia (Olearia rani), forest cabbage tree (Cordyline banksii) and rewa rewa (Knightia excelsa) are flowering, but apart from isolated plants the wonderful display of native clematis is now over - flowers replaced by prolific clumps of seed heads. Manuka, rangiora and several other trees and shrubs are also flowering so there is a haze of white across the forest.
I will be working on the bird monitoring soon so will report on the results in my next blog.

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