It seems that we are moving seamlessly from a wet summer into a wet and windy autumn! The bush is looking very lush and healthy with the rata in particular putting on huge growth. The unpredictable weather has reduced the amount of time spent in the forest but we have noticed plenty of kereru and silvereye are flocking with many young birds eliciting food. Towards the end of february the cicadas started up and have at times been deafening. Kingfisher and Morepork have enjoyed the bounty! Morepork have been evident during the day calling at all hours.
The unseasonal weather has meant that I have seen few butterflies although there have been several Whites, the occasional Monarch and Blue and one each of Red and Yellow Admirals. The highlight has been an Australian Painted Lady beside the Hooson drive. It would have been blown over from Aussi. It was a first for me on the estate.
The big blows often turn up interesting creatures around the house and recently we had a large common stick insect on the window frame. Earlier this week what was probably a Bush Giant Dragonfly briefly landed near the house. According to "Which New Zealand Insect" they can eat up to 20 house flies in an hour and even take cicadas. Apparently there are about 40 endemic species of cicada in New Zealand including the clapping, chirping, chorus, snoring and clock cicadas!
Judi and I joined Tim and Jude on a trip to Little Barrier at the end of february. It was fantastic to see the island and listen to the kokako, whitehead, robin, stitchbird and saddleback, none of which we now have at Mahakirau. Pre rats, mice and stoats they would have been here and maybe, one day, it will be possible to attempt reintroductions. Although our bird life is depleted it was very interesting to see how similar our forest is to the island's forest vegetation. It was a reminder of just how special and precious the Mahakirau forest is.
Sadly we didn't get to see the giant weta while on the island but we did get to feed young tuatara!