Archive for the ‘flora and fauna’ Category

Final countdown

September 19, 2017

Eek, one week to go until we head off on our next adventures and there is still so much to organise, I don’t know where the time has gone.

This last weekend we were expecting to have a relatively quiet one with no guests due for the weekend, however, that was soon to change. On Saturday evening we were quietly enjoying dinner with Grant whilst waiting for the rugby to start when I got a cheeky text from my brother John asking what was for dinner tomorrow night as he and his partner Jude were thinking coming to stay! Sure enough they arrived on Sunday afternoon, quickly settled in and then went for a quick tour around the area.

That’s them across the harbour at Pahi….can you see them?

No, we couldn’t really either until we got the binoculars out. Here’s a closer view, you can just make out their grey car parked near the end of the wharf!

It was great to catch up with them and all their news, even though we do keep in contact regularly via a monthly family email, it’s always nice to meet up in person.

We had another visitor this week as well, this cheeky fellow came and sat on the rail just outside the kitchen. We are sure he was eyeing up all the skinks that bask on the warm concrete during the day.

The hens have been keeping us in good supply with eggs and we thought that we had a good lot of ducklings hatched with 12 ducklings swimming on the pond, although at the next count it was only 10. But what do you call a group of ducklings? A clutch? A flock? Well, according to Mr Google, he tells me that ducks in flight are called a flock, ducks on land are a brace or balding (I think I will stick to calling them a brace as balding sounds …..well, just bad!). And ducks on the water are called a raft, a team or a paddling. Who knew?

So here is a picture of a paddling of ducklings.

However, today we discovered that there are actually three distinct groups of ducklings in, on and around the pond ranging in size from very new to a few weeks old with each brace numbering around 10 which means 30 ducklings in total. That’s an awful lot of ducks! I tried to get a picture of them, here are some of them on the bank, can you spot them?

They are hiding on the bank under the shadow of the cabbage tree nearest the pond.

A closer view, there are the two groups here but the tiny newly hatched ones are hiding under a flax bush. They will be a nice surprise for Jacky & Chris on their return. As well, there are a pair of herons nesting in one of the macrocarpa trees, and the tuis, wood pigeons and rosellas have been very active over the last week or two as well, anyone would think that it is spring.

Meanwhile we are busy making lists of things we need to get done before we leave, like making sure all our affairs are in order and up to date, inform those that need to know that we are heading away, getting prescriptions sorted, make lists of what we need from the van to pack, oh and have we got suitcases suitable for the trip?, money is organised, passports, insurance, travel plans are all done, the van is sorted for whilst we are away so hopefully we have thought of most things.

After a bit of a fright the other week when it was pointed out to me that I had misread the date and time of our flight 😳 (Well, it is easy enough to do isn’t it?). I read that our flight departed at 0055 on Wednesday so I just had it in my head that we left Wednesday night just after midnight ……..oops, it actually means Tuesday night check in for an early hour departure on Wednesday morning NOT Wednesday night.

I have checked and rechecked the tickets to make sure we will be at the airport on the right day at the right time, now we just have to hope that the air fuel situation does not impact us to badly. Keep your fingers crossed folks!

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Tiki touring

July 16, 2017

It’s not all relaxing and enjoying the smallholder style of life, we have also done a bit of tiki touring around the area.  We headed off for a day trip around the district with our first stop at the Matakohe Kauri Museum which is just a few kms from Whakapirau.  The kauri is a slow growing tree with beautiful timber  

We spent a good hour or two wandering through all the exhibits.

Here are a couple of small sailing boats built of kauri, with a single large plank of timber in the background which stretched the length of the hall.

I was amused to see the following sign inside one of the small sailing dinghys. 

From there we headed to Dargaville and then onto the Waipoua Forest to see Tāne Mahuta, one of the largest living Kauri trees.  Tāne Mahuta is a giant kauri tree (Agathis australis), its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years. Its Māori name means “Lord of the Forest”.  

It’s vital statistics are as follows: Trunk girth 13.77 m (45.2 ft),  Trunk height 17.68 m (58.0 ft), Total height 51.2 m (168 ft), Trunk volume 244.5 m3 (8,630 cu ft). Total volume 516.7 m3 (18,250 cu ft).



Alex in front of the tree.

A local Maori guide who happened to be there told us that many many years ago when he was assisting to build a track to the tree, 11 men held hands with arms outstretched to surround the tree.  He also told me that there is an even larger tree but that it is is another part of the forest and a long walk to find it.  We will not be endeavouring to find it this time, besides the heavens opened just as we completed the visit to this tree.

Another day, Mike the friendly local who did the killing  execution bumping off processing of the sheep the other day, offered to take Alex for a jet boat ride around the upper reaches of the Kaipara harbour.

That’s them zooming off across the other side of the harbour, viewed from the deck.  

Wildlife

January 20, 2017

It’s fair to say that being in a Sanctuary means that we are surrounded by lots of wildlife in one form or another.  Currently there are 4 pairs of Dotterels nesting on the beach, they build their nests right on the high tide mark which necessitates the nests having to be sandbagged to protect them from extra high tides and also to be roped off from humans who may decide to have an extra close look.  Dotterel are a threatened/nationally vulnerable species, here at Shakespear there have been 16 chicks hatched, of which 5 have been lost and 6 have fledged.  Some eggs were lost due to high tides, hooligans and other creatures so protection of their space is important.  The other day we had to move one lot of fencing which was protecting their patch as the dotterels had, in their wisdom, moved further along the beach.  

Can you spot the well camouflaged adults?

A close up view

 But first the had to get their chicks across the small creek…who knew that they could swim?


And a blurry close up

After we had set up the fencing, put up the signs, and made sure they were safe, the adult birds with chicks in tow, then proceeded to head back to their previous haunt further along the beach.  Since then they have moved between the two areas daily I guess trying to decide which one is best?

The Kereru, NZ wood pigeon, are feasting on the ripe Karaka  berries on the tree in front of our van, gorging themselves until they are almost too heavy to fly before taking off with the unmistakable sound of their wing beats to gain enough height and momentum to get back to their home.  

They also seem to enjoy the new growth on the kowhai tree growing at the rear of our van but they have not been left in peace to eat the leaves as we have seen Tui chasing and dive bombing the much larger Kereru until the pigeons fly off out of their way.  We have also seen Tui exhibiting similar behaviour toward a magpie, chasing it in a menacing manner, diving and swooping on the magpie until it’s forced from its flight to land, and then continually harassing it until it finally leaves the area.  

In the past two years two species of birds have been reintroduced to the Sanctuary, the Whitehead – which I wrote about its release into the park here, and Robins which were reintroduced last year and you can read a little about them here.  This year in the autumn Kiwi are being reintroduced into the Santuary which is fantastic news for all, but in particular, reward for all the hard work done by the rangers, staff and the numerous volunteers who put in hours of work throughout the year.

It’s not all bird life here though.  This fellow was dragged onto the beach after being found dead in the shallows by some undoubtably surprised swimmer.


It’s a bronze whaler shark, about 2m in length.  It was later recovered by DoC  and taken away for reasearch purposes.  It’s not something I would personally like to find whilst I am swimming!!

Blooming lovely

December 19, 2016

Oh how I love the drive into Shakespear, you drive up the hill to the pest proof fence and wait for the pest proof gates to open and let us in, once through the gates a little further along toward the  brow of the hill we catch a first glimpse of a sign mown into the paddock.


The number 5 denotes the fact that Shakespear has now been 5 years pest free, a great achievement especially for all who continue to work hard to maintain the park.  Early 2017 will see the reintroduction of Kiwi to the sanctuary, congratulations to all those hard working staff and volunteers who are making this happen.

Once over the hill we get a good view down over Te Haruhi Bay and we see the first glimpse of the pohutakawas in flower, it is truly a delightful sight.   

The entrance to the  campground  is lined with the trees and many of them are in full bloom. 

We have a Pohutakawa flowering at the front and rear of where we are parked within the campground, for some reason the trees are putting on a particularly grand display this year.


My favourite tree in the park is this one which is half red and half yellow


Who knew that there was a yellow Pohutakawa? 

In fact there are many colour variations, from almost a pink, through orange tones to red to crimson and there is one that is almost a browny/red.


Whatever their colour, they herald the start of summer and are glorious in all their colours. 

Kairakau & Mangakuri Beaches

April 22, 2016

 

Our next port of call was Kairakau, a short distance as the crow flies, but a much longer trip zig zagging inland first to near Waipawa before then heading back out to the coast. 

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Looking south

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Looking north

Once we were parked and settled in, again no phone reception, as is evidenced by the very large range of bluffs behind the camping area cutting out communications which were at best sporadic all of the way up the coast.

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These bluffs meant that the sun was only on us until mid afternoon.  It would not be a place to be camped during the winter months. The colour is provided by the early morning light.

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The other end of the beach was a river mouth with a number of holiday homes and a small permanent population.

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Looking back from the river mouth to where we were camping looking over the camp ground in the foreground, we are faintly visible in the background.

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Mixed farming!  Geese and sheep sharing the same paddocks.

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Just before the beach there is this chasm cut between the coastal bluffs and a large singular rock formation.

From Kairakau we took a short drive to Mangakuri without camera.  It was a very long sandy beach (which beaches aren’t around here!) with a very small settlement.  However it has no motorhome parking available.  We both felt it would be a very attractive place to come back to and spend some time.

Busy Waitangi weekend

February 10, 2016

 The weather forecast for the weekend was not looking good and it obviously scared off a number of campers as noted of the 160 booked in, we would have been lucky to have in 70 people who eventually braved the forecast.  We did have some rain on friday evening and Saturday morning but by 10am. It was clearing, hot and the sun eventually poked out its head.  Steve & Les arrived on Friday evening, and an evening of food, wine and lively debate ensued putting the world to rights.  As Saturday morning cleared, Steve went back into Browns Bay to pick up their middle grandson Asher 7,  for a weekend stay.  

Ash kept us well entertained for the weekend,

  
  Enjoying  a “dippy egg” for  breakfast
  His favourite Bacon & Egg pie for lunch

We had lots and lots of fun, with plenty of laughs along the way and of course lots of swimming as well. He was a pleasure to have around however you tend to forget how exhausting the constant chatter is but one very happy young man went home on Monday afternoon, and one very exhausted Great Aunty Bernice and Great Uncle Roy had an early night!!!

There was a little excitement in the park when a large part of a Pohutakawa tree at the entrance to the campground came crashing down on Saturday.  Apparently this was the largest Pohutakawa in the park.  Bruce (head Ranger) was quickly on the job clearing away some of it before arborists come in to finish off the task later this week.

    

And if any of you were wondering what happened to my swimming pool, it was given to Ben, Asher and Finn for use at their home.

 Gone to a good home!

Some photos missed in passing

November 15, 2015

The following photos were taken during our visit to Wellington to view the ANZAC Exhibitions.  I have previously written about the exhibit at the National War Memorial but not the Te Papa exhibit. 

But first a picture from the National War Memorial, this first photo created quite an impression as it was taken on the exact day when my father was wounded and in Passchendaele although it is in the Australian sector rather than Abraham Heights where my father was hit by shrapnel in the face and right knee and subsequently invalided back to Hornchurch in England.

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Back to Te Papa.  I have had great difficulty in coming to grips with this exhibition so here are some photos with minimal text.

The following are photos of the models which are 1.8 times life scale.  Each shows a specific individual and is surrounded with displays of letters,  photographs and belongings of the person.  There are detailed biographical notes and also recordings of either the individual or of others who took part in the same action.  All fought at Anzac Cove or in the case of the nurse, supported those who were fighting.

Each of the persons are presented in a tableau representing specific actions on their part,  giving context to their role and action.

The detail in the tableaus is absolutely amazing

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Very expressive of the motions involved

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And that detail includes the conditions in which these persons found themselves

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The last of the tableaus gives a very good sense of  the thousand yard stare and has obviously created a very strong response by attendees as it has become decorated with poppies.

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On a much lighter note at Te Papa, this example of art from tins/cans.  The corned beef cans used were representative of those which were sold throughout the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and a wide range of markets across the world.

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Nearer to our present location the following photo is of a stained glass window in the Whatawhiwhi Church not far from Maitai Bay DoC Camp.  It was first mentioned to us by Stuart Park, a cousin who lives in Kerikeri, who was head of Historic Places in the North and had done research into a large number of churches.  His interest in New Zealand glass art is also represented here as he knew the artist and her work.  We accompanied Stuart and were very very impressed by the window.  It is a very impressive representation of the end of the Karikari Peninsular.  The twin bays at the left are Maitai Bay where the DoC camp is situated and the bottom bay is Waikato Bay.  

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The text at the base of the window translates from the Lord’s Prayer   Thy Will be Done.  The church itself is interesting as it is old but when one approaches it, it turns out that it has a concrete block exterior.  On talking to a very friendly local, it turns out that the concrete blocks are a shell erected around the original wooden exterior in order to preserve the original extrerior.  The interior is original and contains many photos of former clerics, prominent Maori and local people.  A very illuminating historic record.

Meanwhile back on the beach the picture below shows a strange creature? body? piece of flotsam washed ashore.  It consists of connected sacs some of which have filled with sand as they have washed ashore.  Identification would be appreciated, the closest we have come is squid egg sacs?

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And here is an unusual Pukeko showing signs of a malignant growth on the side of its neck.  It appears to represent no hindrance to its growth or abilities.

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Nor on its ability to appreciate an apple a day!

Melbourne–Wildlife

October 6, 2015

I know, I know, still catching up on Melbourne blogs before we get back to some semblance of a “normal” routine. 

So just a quick update of some of the wildlife encountered on our recent trip.  First there was the Koalas nonchalantly sitting up a tree…and no, they weren’t   K..I..S..S..I..N..G as the old school ground taunt goes.  These Koalas were in some trees in a layby just off the road on our way to they Great Ocean Road, most of them were sleeping but I did manage to capture this one having a scratch.

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Our next encounter was with birds, of all shapes sizes and colours

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These colourful natives were all found in laybys on the side of the main road and fed out of our hand with the food that our guide supplied.

On our walk into the Otway forest, we came across another native, this time a snail, completely black and also carnivorous19This is a picture off the information board, however we did find one along our walk but I forgot to photograph it.

The Kaiaua Coast 

May 21, 2015

The clouds were rolling in and darkening the skies as we arrived at Waharau late in the afternoon. Much discussion was entered into about where we were going to park, anyone would have thought that a) we had never been here before and/or b) there were lots of people here. Neither of which are true. We settled into the corner – we haven’t actually parked in this particular location before – and just as we had finished putting out the awning, the rain started. It did not let up until late Friday night and wow, did it ever rain, it was consistent and torrential all day on Friday but it did start to diminish Friday night with Saturday dawning a gloriously fine day.

  Parked up 
We have been to Waharau many times before and have extolled its virtues to many, however, unless we are here with friends, it is very rarely that we find ourselves with any company. Not that we mind, in fact we love it and long may it last.  

Of course I made the most of having both power and hot water with the washing machine getting a good work out. As well, we have been making chutneys and relishes again, it is handy to have a prep bench to work on, I can cook up the pickles on our portable gas cooker so that the cooking aromas are not filling the van.  

We had a few days by ourselves before Bill & Estelle arrived for a couple of nights. Roy & Bill set the net in the hope of some nice flounder, no flounder but they did come back with 16 good sized Kahawai. They were shared between us, we smoked all ours and I made it into smoked fish pies, smoked fish pate, a lovely salad of smoked kahawai, fennel and pear. The remainder was frozen. Now we hope to get some flounder as some of us are heartily sick of smoked fish!

 16 fish to be filleted

Bill & Estelle had only just left (as in 20mins had elapsed) when Jim & Judy arrived.   

 Roy & Jim did go fishing and set the net but no flounder was harmed in this process, instead they came back with 8 Kahawai. This time we gave most of the kahawai to Jim as we had more than enough, instead we turned our portion into bait! 

  8 kahawai

We had a couple of days of torrential rain and although we were snug warm and dry, some parts of the country did not fare so well and were flooded. However, I do have to admit my red bands did not afford me dry feet in all the mud!! 

 Wet and muddy feet

Red Bands are a Kiwi Icon, they are a brand of gumboot aka Wellington boots for those of you in the northern hemisphere. Traditionally gumboots have always come up to just below the knee. However in 1958 staff at Marathon Rubber Footwear – the forerunner to Skellerup – decided to create a shorter boot and on 21st October the first pair of Red Band gumboots rolled off the production line and became an instant hit around the country.

We were well entertained by the bird life at Waharau, there was the Tui that came every day to dance around the trees getting the last of the berries and entertaining us with its birdsong.  It definitely wasn’t shy and quite happily sat in the tree just a few feet away from us.  

   Tui filling up on berries

Then there was the Fantatil (Piwakawaka) who decided that we had a very friendly fantail in one of the wing mirrors. It came visiting daily and spent hours dancing, prancing and pecking away at its reflection in the mirror, wondering why it’s amorous advances were not reciprocated.  The mirror required a good clean by the time we were ready to leave.

 Fantail and ‘friend’

Soon enough our time at Waharau was up and it was time to move on. We had planned to go just down the road to the Kaiaua Boat Club, however, the ground there was so wet and boggy that most of the available parking area had been roped off, so plan B was instigated and we meandered further down the road to Ray’s Rest, a very popular spot for motorhomes to park. 

 And indeed it is lovely when the weather is fine, but you sure get battered and sand blasted if the wind is blowing, as it indeed was on our first night there. We were already to pack up and move on when later in the afternoon, the wind had abated, the sun came out and it was indeed glorious.  A double rainbow 
   And then the sun shone
Where else can you safely park this close to the sea?

The wind was favourable enough to allow Roy & Jim to put out their kites and set out a long line which resulted in a much more successful haul with 4 good sized snapper and 4 kahawai on the first evenings catch. The following day only one more snapper was added to the tally and all of our share of the snapper was cooked and eaten fresh. And oh my goodness, it was delicious, there is nothing like freshly caught and cooked fish. 

There is a two day parking limit at Rays Rest so Wednesday morning we packed up, said our farewells and headed off in opposite directions. We were not sure where we were heading to but quickly decided to go to Anzac Bay, Bowentown which is not too far from Tauranga. We have not been here before and so we were pleasantly surprised to find a lovely grassy parking area reserved for motorhomes, with a three night limit. 

  Parked at Anzac Bay

And why are we heading back in the Bay of Plenty? Because we are eventually ending up at John & Jude’s in Whakatane as they have asked us to housesit for them for a week whilst they are off celebrating  John’s admission into the realm of the advanced years, old farts, gold card carrying pensioner club! 

Some photos

April 16, 2015

Just had a look though the camera card and found a few photos that deserve a view.

One of the entertainments at Shakespear in the Summer was this water slide which all of the children, and some of the adults, thoroughly enjoyed.

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These next two are from the Rally we attended at Duders Beach.  We were all parked very much on the beach front in a paddock.

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Adjacent to the parking area is the Duder homestead a very attractive house right on the beach.

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And this was the sunrise on the Saturday morning

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These next two show the effect of the cyclone on sea conditions at the Whakatane bar.  Definitely not a day to be trying to get out to go fishing.

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A cicada that visited us at Waharua Regional Park.  It was approximately 7 cm long.

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And finally a photo that I thought I had lost.   This is the stingray that we caught in the net at Kaiaua.  The knife is 26cm long.  I had to cut the tail off to get the ray out of the net.

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