Saturday, 29 March 2014


We are still enjoying superb summer weather – today is warm and still. The mid March cyclone was not as bad as predicted. We were overseas at the time but very little damage was evident on our return and by all accounts we missed the worst of it as it tracked down the west coast. The present warm weather has resulted in very high wasp numbers through parts of the estate. Where grass has been cut or fresh soil exposed the ground is covered with wasps. They are also very busy around flowering lancewood and climbing rata.
We are currently enjoying a wonderful chorus of bellbirds. It is surprising how one week one species is very active and visible and the next a different species takes its place. Earlier this month the tuis were everywhere and bellbirds were few and far between. In the past few days tui have been flying high over the estate and a few have started singing again but in the early new year they were very active defending ‘their’ rata trees. Tomtits, which have been largely invisible recently, have also begun to sing again. 
One thing you learn when living in the bush is that the apparent absence of a species does not mean it is not present. The smaller birds in particular can be difficult to find when nesting and during the post-breeding period. Fruiting and flowering trees and hatching insects also result in birds moving to feed in different areas. Having not seen or heard a shining cuckoo for some time at the start of the year an adult then appeared at the house. Later, two juvenile birds were calling endlessly to their adopted grey warbler parents. 
The local press has recently published a letter suggesting the DoC 1080 drop has killed all the birds around here. Our experience on the estate (we are adjacent to the 1080 drop zone) is very different. All the regular bush birds are in good numbers and are probably as numerous as we have ever seen them. Harrier numbers may be down but again there are plenty of birds around. There has been no noticeable drop in morepork numbers, which are very high. 
A family of kingfisher had at least three young near the picnic area and they are surprisingly tame around the house. There are plenty of kereru and recently I have seen the occasional display dive. So far this year I have only seen one kaka flying over the estate.
We completed the analysis of the kiwi monitoring recordings and have to report that only one kiwi – a male – was confirmed on the estate. There is still a possibility that other birds are present, but it certainly confirms that numbers are extremely low. It is probably this one bird that has been heard at various locations within the central estate. Sadly the female ‘309’ kiwi I mentioned in my last blog post died of its injuries. Once again it reinforces the importance of keeping dogs out of the estate. 
There are never many butterflies in the forest but this summer I have recorded copper, blue and Helm’s butterflies and on 28th March there was a painted lady near the house. I recorded this species here in mid march 2012. This could have been a windblown arrival from Australia or maybe from a population that has established locally. There is never a shortage of cabbage whites especially around the vegetable garden!

Metrosideros fulgens - Climbing Rata

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