Earlier in the winter Jude and I had a special time in Sri Lanka and Thailand. We visited several areas of forest and it is always fascinating to make comparisons with Mahakirau. The Kaeng Krachan National Park on the Thai/Myanmar border was spectacular. Numerous mammal species including gibbons and other primates and in a five day trip we recorded nearly 200 species of bird including many beautiful and spectacular forest dwellers such as hornbills. It is easy to be despondent about our lack of diversity in NZ but at least we don't have mosquitos, leeches and fiery red ants! Also we don't have to endure 35 degrees with near 100% humidity!
Returning to winter from those temperatures takes a bit of adjustment but we have been lucky with the weather. We have enjoyed some glorious spring like days although we now have rain and wind as a subtropical storm has arrived from the north. However, it is still quite warm with temperatures in the mid teens. Looking down the valley it is raining hard at the coast but we just have a very light drizzle here at the moment, having had 43mm of rain yesterday.
The birds vanish when the wind is so strong but until yesterday they had been behaving as if spring had arrived with tui courting hard and tomtit, bellbird, grey warbler and fantail all singing strongly. In the fine weather before the storm harriers were displaying above the forest and the first swallow that I have seen for a while was singing while flying high above the house. There are still plenty of fantail around. In the gale they were keeping very low, out of the wind, flying just above the ground catching insects blown out of the bushes.
Whilst the bush is generally looking healthy, several more olearia plants have died and others look very sick. It would be good to know if this is associated with the phenomenal flowering last year. Kereru have demolished the Kowhai leaves on the trees planted by our drive. Perhaps they are eco-purists and recognize that kowhai are not native to the bush here (having been brought up from Taupo to feed the tui)! In any event it will be interesting to see if the trees can recover from the attack.
With the onset of weather less conducive to being outside, Jude and I have begun the long process of listening to the 1,200 hours of bio-acoustic (kiwi) recordings made in June throughout the estate. We have only been through two of the ten sites so far but they have certainly supported the view that we have a very good Morepork population. We have also picked up Kaka and Spur winged plover calling. So far no kiwi. I will report on the final analysis in my next posting.