Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rat #2

Another rat this morning; I think this one is Rattus rattus or ship rat

Confirmed hypothesis: cheese does give you a headache!

It was a male weighing 155g, was 170mm long (head to base of tail) so a lot larger than the first one, a kiore. It was caught in the trap by the drive so that's one apiece now for my two Victor traps. It would be really good to catch one in the Nooski trap, just to confirm that they work!

Ship rat Rattus rattus - hind foot length 38mm

It will be really good to get my 30 new Victor traps set up once the parts have arrived. I've also ordered 6 Warrior possum traps from www.connovation.co.nz along with Ferafeed baits. These are non-toxic baits that can also be used in the rat traps.

Warrior Trap from Connovation website
The Warrior traps are fixed to a length of timber that is then nailed at chest height to a tree with the jaws facing downwards. This is to prevent ground birds, especially kiwi, being caught.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunrise over Halfmoon Bay

One of the wonderful things about the weather is that it is always changing; no more so than here on Rakiura. Yesterday started in brilliant sunshine but an hour later it was totally clouded over and the rain wasn't far away! The Weather Gods bless me though and I walk most of the time inbetween the showers. I love the rain and wind as they make ordinary photos look so much better. I was without my camera this afternoon when walking along Horseshoe Bay Beach - sunshine gave way to rain but presented us with a magnificent rainbow instead. I had my camera this morning though and captured the following shots just after the Anzac Service.

Anzac Day on Rakiura

I was up early today for Anzac Day 2011 and although showers were forecast, it was dry for my walk down to the village. The service is held at the Cenotaph on Halfmoon Bay foreshore with a march starting at 7am. There was a huge turnout - at a guess between 150-200. After prayers, speeches and presentation of wreaths, people are invited to place their poppies - a nice touch which involves the children. We had a short shower just as the Last Post played but it didn't last for long. I'll do a separate blog with some photos taken just as the sun rose.

Easter Historical Art Exhibition

The Rakiura Heritage Trust presented an excellent Easter exhibition of artwork inspired by Stewart Island ranging from the early 1800s to present day. I had the pleasure to be involved somewhat when Raylene asked me a couple of weeks ago if I could make the labels to identify the artwork, along with any information we could find out about the artist. She gave me a list and a couple of nights later we chose a format and size. Then came the research to make sure we had spellings and gender correct - one of the artists, Jesse Hollobon, was a 'he' on one website and a 'she' on another!

The exhibition was held in the fabulous Community Centre with a 'Wine and Nibbles' gala opening on Saturday night and open from 10am-5pm on Sunday. Willing helpers met at 10am on Saturday and showed true island improvisation to turn an empty room and hallway into an art gallery - I was on hand to capture the process.

The Start... Saturday 10.45am
Main room - Raylene, Lee and Alan

The hallway - that picture rail is pretty high!

 Almost finished - Saturday 4.39pm
The main hall displayed the more modern artworks

The older works were hung in the hallway in approximate chronological order - up one side and down the other

Tickets to the opening were $10 each which included a glass of wine and nibbles. The evening was well attended with a good mix of residents and visitors. Entry fee on Sunday was a gold coin donation and judging by the donations cauldron, we must have had close to 100 turn up.

Raylene raced home to grab some flowers for a couple of floral displays - I think she had a magic wand hidden somewhere as within a few minutes she had whipped up two masterpieces.

A local artist, Margaret Fairhall, had several paintings in the exhibition and also some works on a sales table. I met Margaret on my first trip to Stewart Island in February 2009 and she gave me a guided tour of her gallery here, as well as offered plants if/when I moved. She paints in oils, watercolours and acrylics and has a unique style that captures the Island spirit perfectly. I couldn't resist a little beauty oil on canvas painting called 'Bay Boats' measuring 350x250mm. Check out her website at http://www.margaretfairhall.co.nz/Margaret_Fairhall/Home.html 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

50 years ago

I've been reading a small booklet called Stewart Island, by N.S. Seaward & Sheila Natusch, first published in 1951 with a third revision in 1962. I don't think much has changed in the 50 years since it was revised - I'll copy a few snippets from it from time to time.

Under the chapter heading, Short Walks from Halfmoon Bay, they write:
'There is only one satisfactory way to see the beauty of the island, that is by foot, but do not let the thought of walking alarm you. The tracks in the Halfmoon Bay-Paterson Inlet area are not difficult and good strong boots, preferably with nails, for men, and either boots or heavy shoes for women are a big help. The island's weather is often fickle, but if you are suitably shod, this need not worry you for even on wet days the atmosphere in the bush is always warm. A good raincoat and hat are also necessary and if visitors remember these things, a holiday on the island can never be dull despite the weather.'

Golden Bay is described... 'This pretty little spot is a favourite with all. From its little wharf many of the pleasure craft leave on trips up the inlet. Being almost a complete semi-circle the bay is very sheltered and provides an excellent anchorage for large or small craft. The bay is nearly always a busy spot, dinghies and launches ply the waters while children play on the yellow sand or frolic in the warm waters.'

Not quite so many boats now and MacPherson, the dog, is the only frolicker I've seen, but it's still a special place.

Looking across to a misty Ulva Island from Golden Bay

Low tide on Golden Bay (April 2011)
Low tide on Golden Bay (Feb 2010)

An Octopus's Garden

It's full moon time so the tides are extra high and low. I was down at Golden Bay last Thursday just as low tide turned and was treated to a spectacular view of exposed seaweed garden. An undated DOC report states that there are 270 seaweed species in Paterson Inlet; what a wonderful diverse habitat. Here are some photos to share...
Seaweed gardens slowly uncovering as low tide approaches
I think these are kelp seedlings

I have no idea whether this is a seaweed - interesting squiggles though!
How many species can you count?

Sea lettuce and squiggles
Blue mussels and friends

Friday, April 15, 2011

First rat!

Woohoo! Caught my first rat. I think it's a kiore but will take it into DOC shortly to confirm (confirmed as a kiore, the Polynesian or Pacific rat, Rattus exulans)

It was caught in the trap box that I put a new Victor rat trap in on Saturday, baited with Colby cheese and placed alongside the house by the drive. I have a similar trap by the deck and four Nooski traps placed around the house. The rat-catching competition has begun!! The rat weighed 50g and the length of its body and head is 120mm.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Golden Bay Walk

There's many short walks in Oban and I will have pleasure bringing them all to you on my blog. The Department of Conservation have an informative brochure that can be downloaded here:
The Golden Bay track follows the coastline so lots of steps but superb views over Paterson Inlet where there's a break in the vegetation. Last Thursday I walked the track from the Deep Bay end; the weather was mild with showers creating ever-changing views across the inlet as the rain clouds rolled through.

Google Maps - Deep Bay to Golden Bay Track marked in red
The track is very well maintained and has rat and possum traps throughout which are checked by SIRCET so birdlife is thriving. I was checked out by piwakawaka (fantail) and ngirungiru (tomtit), as well as serenaded by a tui singing his heart out a few metres away from me. One of these days I'll count the number of steps - it's a good workout for calf muscles and could easily be incorporated in a 8-10km loop walk from my home. If I did it every couple of days then I'll be fit in no time!


...and down!

Ulva Island in middle distance, Iona Island to right

Shades of grey

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A day in the garden

The weather yesterday was warm and sunny. I’d already wasted most of the morning trying to get a stable internet connection so that I could take advantage of my new skype subscription to landlines in Aotearoa; fingers crossed that the new Windows 7 drivers achieve that consistently - so far, so good.

I’ve been mulling over what to do in the garden but indecision is worse than making a mistake so I've decided to experiment. I want to do raised beds for better drainage but lack the materials needed. I do have lots of cardboard boxes however so have filled some of these with claggy clay in the hope that some vertical drainage will occur. I’m hoping that the cardboard will last through the winter but who knows. I have some silverbeet seedlings arriving soon and will try raising some of my own seedlings too – the garage gets nice and warm and could be a good ‘potting shed’.

Garden from north end
One of the deer has been grazing between the house and garage (ie vege garden area) so a fence was required. I brought a roll of plastic netting with me and put some to good use at the north end of the garden and then moved the dog kennel to seal off one of the southern ends. I think I’ll put a gate in on the other side of the tank, just in case.

The overflow pipe from the water tank ends by the steps to the garage with a large puddle forming every time it rains. I’m going to extend this down another 10m or so but need to get some flexible pipe; in the meantime I dug a drain yesterday and used a plastic bag to channel the water from the pipe and away from the steps. It rained overnight and it was great to see that it had worked better than nothing at all.

The rest of the afternoon was spent sawing up the branches that I’ve been gathering on my walks. The woodshed is looking better stocked now but I’m not sure if it will last all winter. Next time I walk to the quarry I’ll take my trolley and bowsaw and get some of the bigger branches that were cut down when they trimmed vegetation back from the road last year.

One last photo - kiwi tracks through one of the puddles on my drive.
Have a great week...