Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Helms Butterfly recorded on estate

We have now had a fortnight of strong westerlies which haven't been pleasant but we have missed the appalling weather experienced across most of the country. Temperatures have been between 10 and 20 degrees and there has been very little rain.
The biggest excitement for me was coming across a superb Helms Butterfly (Dodonidia helmsi) on the 20th November. This was a real surprise as they are rare and normally fly in January and February. They are known to occur on the Coromandel but they are becoming increasingly scarce due to loss of food plants and introduced wasps preying on their larva. My butterfly book states that they are the most likely NZ butterfly to become extinct so it is a bit of a coup for the estate. I am waiting to hear more from the specialists. They are a stunningly beautiful butterfly so lets hope we find more.
Another bit of good news is that Dion (Merv's son) saw a kiwi on the estate road near the original big slip when coming in late at night. This is about half way between the birds at numbers 2 and 16 (Shirley and Tim and Karen and Sebastian). It was feeding beside the road which reinforces the need to drive with care and to exclude dogs.
This morning I completed this years bird monitoring (delayed by the weather) so I will have to leave reporting my findings until my next blog. A new estate bird for me (this week) was a small flock of Red billed Gulls beating into the howling westerly over the northern end of the estate. Not very exciting I'm afraid but it does show that marine birds may turn up on the estate particularly during exceptional weather events. There have been 2 or 3 Mynas recently, usually around number 1. Rosellas are also more frequent throughout the estate. Both pretty birds but I fear that they may compete with the natives. A more pleasing event was a fly over of 3 kaka - presumably making for the Manaia.
There is terrific growth in the forest at the moment with many trees in flower - the Manuka are looking spectacular. Jude has made some interesting finds but that will also have to wait to a later blog.

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