Thursday, 26 January 2012

summer in the forest

At last we have enjoyed some real summer with hot still days and sun from dawn to dusk. Unfortunately over Christmas / New Year it was warm and wet - not good for the holiday makers but wonderful for the bush. There has been terrific growth so far this year with everything apparently enjoying the moisture and warmth.
Working through my diary, one highlight has been the morepork that are attracted to the lights at night. There have been as many as four birds feeding on Puriri moths. The night before last I sat out on the deck and had a bird sitting about 2 metres away. Another landed on the balustrade and waddled along looking around for moths. They are delightful birds grumbling away to each other and setting off on acrobatic aerial sorties after the incoming moths. The only downside of these predators is that they will also take small birds. Bruno and Barbara lost a nest of fledgling swallows to a morepork.
Kevin and Cynthia had a sad experience when a stoat killed the two nestling tui that that they had been watching and filming outside their bedroom window. Despite their efforts to protect the nest the stoat showed what an astonishingly efficient predator it is. However, the ongoing pest control must have benefits at this time of year as the bush is full of young birds. Bellbird, Silvereye, Fantail and Grey Warbler are feeding young around the house and there are small groups of four or five kereru down in the valley which I assume are family parties although flowering rata may be attracting groups of adult birds. The quail near the old paddock have a large family of minuscule young. I wonder how many will survive with the harriers quartering the area.
Many bush birds are less obvious during the breeding season and all but disappear from sight. But shining cuckoo, kingfisher and tomtit are still calling and singing occasionally. Several exotic birds are also singing well, including song thrush, dunnock and chaffinch.
The weather has not been conducive to butterflies but coppers and blues have appeared in the last few days with the fine weather.
As we feared, with the burst of growth in the forest, rat numbers are building fast. We have just finished monitoring and rats are widely spread across the estate. Possum numbers also appear to be building and we caught three near the house in one night recently. The battle continues...
Finally, an odd record was a black shag sitting on the road near the picnic area!

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