Monday, 23 September 2013

Clematis paniculata
Aleuosmia macrophylla
Spring growth on Fivefinger
The forest is beginning to look beautifully fresh as most plants are now putting on new growth.  When the weather is warm and the rain keeps coming growth is phenomenal.
Olearia rani, common throughout much of the estate, had no flowering this year. Last year the bush was white with their flowers but I have only seen one flower cluster this year! The white flowers of manuka and clematis are beginning to appear and Judi noticed the first hooded orchids out on the waterfall path but it looks like it is a later and less spectacular spring than last year. Alseuosmia macrophylla (sorry no common name) which we think is relatively uncommon shrub on the estate, is flowering at the moment. It has spectacular dark crimson tubular flowers, like a large fuschia, with feathered petals. Several of the commoner but less spectacular shrubs such as coprosma are also flowering and clouds of pollen come off the plants when you brush against them.
The highlight of the past few weeks for me was a male kiwi calling just below the house. In the hour I was listening (3-4am) he called three times - each time a series of more than twenty whistles. The first time he called I thought I was dreaming that I was still listening to the calls on the computer! I had hoped to have completed the analysis by now but I have only worked through six of the ten sets of recordings so far. It is a very slow and tedious process. I have picked up male kiwi calling at two of the sites, but no females - which is a disappointing result so far. It has been good to hear several kaka in different parts of the estate. These no doubt are visitors from the Manaia population. On a positive note the recordings do confirm that we have a very healthy population of morepork and weta. Every site has recorded morepork calling most evenings and often multiple birds can be heard. Weta can be heard rasping away at every site. Only another 500 hours of recordings to work through!!
I see that people elsewhere in the North Island have started recording the first arrivals of shining cuckoo so we are keeping our ears open. Last year the Mahakirau birds arrived well after birds elsewhere in the country. I wonder if they fly into Northland and then make their way directly south bypassing the Coromandel or if early arrivals stay near the coast with later birds heading up into the ranges.
The rather miserable windy and cool weather we have had recently seems to have reduced the birdsong and other spring activity. However, whenever it is still and sunny all the bush birds appear. Yesterday the first kingfisher for a while was calling monotonously below the house. Tomtit remain very active with several singing birds around the house. At Chris and Marilyn's we watched a pair together - possibly prospecting for nest sites. At one point the male lay motionless on the open ground, like a reclining cat! We were just beginning to wonder if he was hurt when the female flew down to join him and they made off together.
Kereru and tui are both into their spectacular display flights. The kereru seem to delight in their swoop and stall flights while the tuis hurtle towards the ground from a great height and it is difficult to imagine that they don't get some sort of avian adrenaline rush!

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