Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Visitor identified

In my February blog 'Another anniversary' I put up photos of this visitor...

...but I was unable to identify it. Many thanks to Detective Rob for taking up the challenge and to Leonie of Landcare Research who replied...
'Your enquiry has been passed on to me. The beetle you have photographed is called a Squeaking longhorn beetle, Hexatricha pulverulenta, a native beetle. Apparently they make a squeaking noise when held. The grubs live in dead wood of dying trees especially beech and pine.'

A Google search reveals that Longhorn beetles belong to the Order: Coleoptera, Family: Cerambycidae - a large family that includes over 180 species endemic to Aotearoa. Huhu beetles also belong to this family. One Google link was to T.E.R.R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network - - a Taranaki community resource that is a wealth of information and GIS technology.

Whilst I'm on the subject, have you heard of the New Zealand Biodiversity Recording Network at After registering you can then record observations for birds, plants, fungi, frogs, geckos, skink, butterflies, insects and mammals. What a fantastic way to create a snapshot of biodiversity in your area - and learn about our unique flora and fauna at the same time. Yeah, I know that there's not always time but I reckon it will be a great retirement hobby!!

I have just finished S.J. Watson's debut thriller, 'Before I go to sleep' and found the theme of memory loss quite intriguing. I know my memory is sorely lacking but nowhere near as bad as waking up each morning with no memory of the last 20 years. The book is written from this interesting perspective and I found it hard to put down once I started. It won the UK Crime Thriller of the year and featured as the Listener's inaugural Book Club selection: online comments from the Book Club are divisive - it seems to be either a book you love or one that is ho-hum!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kiwi duet

Thanks to Cathy's suggestion, I can bring you the kiwi duet mentioned in the last blog. Here goes...

The photo is one of a female kiwi that I took when I went on Bravo Adventures Kiwi Spotting tour in February 2010. The evening guided tour cruises down to Little Glory Cove with a wee night tramp through the bush to Ocean Beach. Kiwi come down to beach and feed on the sandhoppers under the kelp piled up on the sand.

I had another kiwi sighting on 19 March 2012, this one a lot closer to home as it was on my driveway. I've had a weka hanging around and went out just after 10pm to move him away from my vege garden. I swung the torch around and there was a kiwi wandering along my drive!!

I don't want to disturb the kiwi around my house but love seeing their footprints in the mud puddles. It's lovely knowing that they are out there and I have visions of setting up an amplifier and night vision camera so that I can watch without disturbing!!

What a magic place to live :)


There's always something new to see here and, equally important, someone who can identify it for me! The following photo is of a Stinkhorn, Aseroe rubra, or Flower Fungus, that I found on my DB2 rat line last Thursday. Stinkhorns are well known for their putrid, rotting meat, smell but this one must have fallen off its stem before producing it.

Flower Fungus, Aseroe rubra

Aseroe rubra, spongy underside
As mentioned in my previous blog, there were a couple of interesting specimens on the Horseshoe Point Track. The first of these was a fungus, similar to a bracket fungus, but white in colour and looking like mouldy bread on the topside. A fungal expert looked at the small photo on my camera and identified as Laetiporus portentosus but I've just looked that up and can see differences - if anyone can confirm it, then please let me know.

Laetiporus portentosus underside

Laetiporus portentosus top
Just on from the bracket fungus was a branch stretching over the track and smothered with the native Autumn (or Easter) orchid, Eirina autumnalis or Raupeka. For more info go to . If you are interested in native orchids then look on their publications page - their colour field guide is great and definitely recommended.

Moturau Moana Gardens are found on the corner of Bragg Bay Road and Horseshoe Bay Road. The once-privately owned land was gifted to the Government and Stewart Islanders by the late Miss Noeline Barker and contains many plants/trees that aren't naturally found on the island.

Fruit of Swamp Astelia, Astelia grandis

Unfurling koru on Hen and Chickens frond, Asplenium bulbiferum, Mauku
Kakabeak, Clianthus maximus, Kōwhai ngutukākā seed pods -
they split lengthways and open right out (see left) to disperse the seeds
Kakabeak, although not native to the island, grows well here and attracts the birds. Get more info at

There is a great viewing platform at Moturau Moana that looks back towards Halfmoon Bay - such a lovely place to sit and contemplate!

Horseshoe Point Track

Whilst the North Island has been battered by high winds and heavy rain, we've been experiencing gorgeous weather - sunny, warm and calm. Much too nice to stay at home on my day off (16 March) and we chose the Horseshoe Point Track, stopping off at Dead Man Bay for a picnic lunch. The track is administered by the Southland District Council and it's one track that dogs can be walked round so we could take Mac as well.

Horseshoe Point Track and walk home
We started at the north end of the track in perfect conditions and walked out to the point where there is a trig. I'd kept my camera in my bag but the views were so stunning I had to grab a few quick picks then run to catch up with the others.

The water was crystal clear and a wide range of different blue/green tones. There is a lot of bull kelp around the shoreline and no doubt fish and seals around too if you just want to sit and watch. The track is undulating with a few steepish bits; after an hour's walk or so you come out on Dead Man Beach.

Dead Man Beach

Dead Man Beach

Mac amongst the bull kelp on Dead Man Beach
The southern part of the track is mostly through the bush with glimpses of ocean. I'll put the fungus and orchid pics in my next blog and keep to just the landscape shots here.

The house at the end of Braggs Bay Road - this is where I started
work on the Weeds Team eradicating Darwin's Barberry

Sarah Cove - looking the other way from the above photo
Bragg Bay

One end of the Horseshoe Point Track
It's about a 40 minute walk home from this sign but I detoured and went to Moturau Moana Gardens on the way - I'll put it in my next blog!

Sunset, Sunrise

The day length is shortening considerably now with the bonus of being awake to see the sun set and rise again over this special island. Solar flare activity on the sun indicated that there could be good sightings of the Southern Lights, Aurora Australis, too. The sunset had a slight greenish tinge on 8 March so I went out with my camera, had just turned it on and, on cue, a kiwi pair started duetting about 50m away. I pressed Record and caught the audio. I've amplified it and saved it as a MP3 file but can't find a way to insert this in my blog! Will stick to some pics instead...

Sunset 8 March 2012
Sunrise 10 March 2012
Sunrise over Halfmoon Bay 10 March 2012
Of course I don't have my camera with me on the most stunning days!! I did take it on 13 March for the start of the Round NZ Third Leg to Napier, though had to be back at work by 2pm when the boats were waved across the line. Here they are 10 mins before the start:

It didn't take long for them to reach Napier and they have now set out on the Fourth and final leg to Auckland. Here's the provisional results from Leg 3 taken from

Friday, March 9, 2012

Halfmoon Bay

Last, but not least, are some pics of Halfmoon Bay and the township

Playground and South Seas Hotel in background

Halfmoon Bay from Petersen Hill Road

Halfmoon Bay from Bailey Place

Sittin' on the dock of the bay :)

Oystercatcher on Halfmoon Bay amongst the seaweed
The family of three oystercatchers (Mum, Dad and baby) were fun to watch.
Baby spent all his/her time running from one parent to the other begging
for food - and didn't get anything at all!
Ship to Shore: the indispensable village supermarket

A walk in the sun

Walking to my rat line on such a beautiful day was great for the soul. It's so uplifting to watch the sunlight dancing on the leaves and listen to the shrieks of kaka, the melodious notes of the songbirds and the lapping of the waves. It's not easy to capture it on camera but here's a few shots...

Light falling on fern fronds

Hen and Chickens fern

Fruit of Pate (Five Finger)

The tide was in at Deep Bay but there was enough room for 4 ducks to sunbathe on the tide debris.

Deep Bay picnic table - a great place to stop awhile and admire the view

My rat line starts at Deep Bay, runs around the above headland and round the other side before heading over the top and back to the start. Rat numbers have been high lately so we are checking the traps twice a week in the hope to keep on top of the surge. The tally for yesterday was 6 rats - 2 kiore and 4 ships rats including this huge female...

Female ship rat - the knife alongside is 22cm long

Lovely soft belly fur but somehow I don't think rat/merino product
would sell that well!

I couldn't resist a few pics of the village as I walked home but I'll put them in one final (for now) blog!

Shorthanded Sailing

Having got my chimney-sweepers badge, my next task was to check my rat lines over at Deep Bay. Four of the Round New Zealand Shorthanded boats have arrived so took my camera in case they were within shot - my boating knowledge is only a tad more than nothing; let me know if I've snapped any in the following pics!!

Birds following the fishing boat

Waiting for the last two more boats to arrive in the race. Check out the Surreal's website (first across the line at the end of the second leg)

Vacuuming the roof

The Weather Gods have pulled out all stops for my 'weekend' off. We've had two stunning sunny and calm days and although I worked hard yesterday, today I have just laid back and enjoyed the sunshine.

Yesterday was chimney-sweep day. Armed with the brush set from work, I climbed the ladder and hit my first hurdle; the screws holding the cowling on were stripped. I managed to shift the first one but the second was worse and despite trying all the tricks that Google offered, I had to resort to drilling the stripped screw out. Not a quick job as it took two battery recharges but gave me time inside to wire brush the rust off the woodburner and repaint it with Granny's Black Stove Polish.

Having the ladder parallel to the roof edge made it easier for climbing
up and down - thanks to sister Linda for this advice
The charged drill made short work of the remaining part of the screw but revealed the second hurdle; the cowling didn't want to part company with the flue. Gentle twists and shakes turned into more aggressive yanks but without success. So after wasting all the morning up on top of the roof, Plan B was put into action and I cleaned the flue from the bottom in just a few minutes. I'll know for next time!

Using the small brush first to clean the flue
It was impossible to clean around the cowling without getting bits of coke/baked on soot falling on to the roof. I put up sheets of plastic which worked well early morning but by lunchtime the gentle breeze was having fun blowing it around. I didn't want tar-tainted drinking water but the corrugated roof made it hard to sweep up. Just as well no-one was around with a video camera to catch me vacuuming my roof :)

The swept and painted woodburner - the next
job is to paint the ceiling and walls
The view from the top was great and the day couldn't have been better with korimako (bellbirds), ngirungiru (tomtits), kakariki and tui keeping me company.

Northwest view from the roof - looking toward the road
woodshed roof in foreground
West view down the drive

South view
Southeast view

The camera got a good workout yesterday but I'll keep this blog short and sweet and put more photos in the next one.