Thursday, 22 May 2014

Kereru flocks

Today has been another glorious autumnal day – still, mild and sunny. With the exception of a week or so of cold and wet weather the summer feels like it has gone on and on.
Friends who visited at the weekend marveled at the wealth of bird life on the estate. Fantails, grey warblers, silvereye, tomtit, bellbirds and tuis surrounded us. It is so easy to forget how silent some forests have become. Our friends are seasoned trampers so it was an interesting observation.
For the first time since we have been living up here we have seen flocks of Kereru on the estate. Yesterday a flock of about twenty birds flew down the picnic area valley landing in a rata above the waterfall. It looked as if some of the birds at least were then feeding in the canopy of a miro. Four days ago I saw a flock of a dozen or so kereru near the entrance to lot 2 so these may be the same birds. Through the telescope, I watched about a dozen birds, several feeding on lancewood berries. These birds may have come from within the estate or more likely from elsewhere, as our resident birds were still around. Also the flocking birds were more wary than our regulars, which are very trusting.
I have also noted a number of small groups of tui flying over the bush. One flock of ten birds was the largest group that I have seen since being up here. Tuis had been very quiet during much of April but in the past fortnight they have reappeared. Both tuis and bellbirds are now singing well.
At times the bush is seething with flocks of many tens of silvereyes and the sound of their high-pitched calls can be quite deafening in the early morning. Every so often a bird will burst into song. Several tomtits have been calling and in the last few days I have heard the occasional singing.
In the evening light I was scanning the bush with binoculars. Pairs of fantails were everywhere, presumably hunting for insects flying just above the canopy. The sun was catching their pale fan tails and undersides as they pirouetted above the trees. These dancing pairs were visible all down the valley.  They do appear to have had a good breeding season.
Of the exotic species on the estate, song thrushes are singing strongly.  They are shy birds here and rarely seen in the open. It is interesting how wary most of the introduced species are, in comparison with many of the natives. Pheasant, rosellas, greenfinch, blackbirds and thrushes all fly as soon as a person appears whereas the native species can be extremely confiding.  It is easy to see how devastating to birdlife the introduction of predators such as rats and stoats must have been.

Thankfully, with slightly cooler nights, wasp numbers have reduced to normal levels. There is still some cricket activity heard at night but the only insect of note was another Painted Lady butterfly - in the first week of April.

Judi has recorded a single plant of the small tree ‘Raukawa’, Pseudopanax edgerleyi, a new species for the estate.

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