Monday, 26 February 2018

Summer 2018

This is my first blog since 2015. So much has happened up here in the forest in the past few years. Many of our discoveries and observations have been posted on the Mahakirau Facebook page, on the Mahakirau website or on Nature Watch. However, a number of people have asked that I continue to post on my blog as it does provide another (personal) record of what goes on in our fabulous piece of paradise. So where do I start?
Metrosideros fulgens
I am looking out from the house over the valley towards the east coast. The forest appears to be extremely healthy. Every shade of green, with subtle differences of colour, form and texture enabling the observant viewer to identify many of the more than fifty species of tree we have in our forest. This spring and summer have been excellent for all the flowering trees and climbers and the green on green has been punctuated by other splashes of colour. At the moment the scarlet of the climbing rata (Metrosideros fulgens) is spectacular and follows a fine and prolongued season for the magnificent emergent crimson northern rata (Metrosideros robusta).
From our bedroom we look into the canopy of one of the tall rata in the valley below. As it came into flower the resident tui became increasingly defensive and belligerent. Prolonged singing was punctuated by aerial chases after other tuis, bellbirds and silvereyes if they dared enter the canopy.
The tui's world has calmed down at the moment following a very good breeding season. We had a nest in the tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa) above the house but I never managed to work out how many young they successfully fledged although we regularly had young birds pestering their parents for food. Many species seem to have had a particularly good breeding season this year with bellbirds successfully raising numerous young and more than one brood. The young bellbird's incessant squeaking contact call takes on a 'dripping tap' dimension. Once you are aware of the call it drives you to distraction. Such constant calling might at first seem counter intuitive as it provides an obvious target for predators. However if you attempt to find the source of the call you soon realize what ventriloquists they are. Even when you can see the bird the call seems to come from everywhere.
Silvereye are another species that has had a good breeding season. Flocks of at least thirty birds have been feeding in the low canopy around the house often bringing fantail, grey warbler, tomtit and bellbird with them. Five finger berries, and the insects they attract, are a favourite target and at times the bushes have been alive with juvenile silvereye calling and vibrating their wings in anticipation of their parents providing food.
One of our resident moreporks
For the past few nights our family of morepork have been busy around the house. They have at least three young that have been flying in a somewhat ungainly fashion, landing on the ends of mamaku fronds which collapse under their weight so that they end up hanging upside down endeavoring to look nonchalant. The young morepork call is very un-owl-like. A sort of soft trill that is more insect like than bird (described in the literature as a gentle high-pitched cricket-like trill). They don't begin to sound like adult morepork until they are about five months old.
The forest this spring and summer has been a far cry from the silent bush of the past. I will cover our recent experiences of predator control and successes with our rare endemics in future blog posts.


  1. I'm so glad you wrote and posted this. Keep it up. Your voice and perspective are unique and valued. Cheers, D.

  2. Yay! What a delight to read.

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