Monday, October 28, 2013

Slow walking

How slow can you walk? I took a slow walk around my rat traps today and what would normally take 5-10 minutes took 2 hours - but I discovered a heap of things along the way. Our Labour Weekend weather has been a tad wintry with low temperatures, rain, hail, thunderstorms and wind. Nice and cosy inside my home but cabin fever set in and when the sun shone this morning I escaped!

First off, I discovered that the white blotch I could see from the lounge wasn't a bit of lichen, it was a mass of puawānanga, Clematis paniculata, the native clematis. In going for a closer look, I realised that blackberry vines were everywhere so went back for my camera and some secateurs.

Continuing around the boundary, I came across a number of tutukiwi or greenhood orchids, one of the Pterostylis species - I'll keep an eye on them and put up some photos when they are flowering.

Heaps of young tutukiwi
 A bit further on were more orchids, this time I think it's the peka-a-waka or bamboo orchid, Earina mucronata. It was growing at the junction where two trees met - one a live kamahi and the other a large dead trunk, possibly a rimu, see the pictures below. I'll be putting the photos up on NatureWatch to get an expert's identification.

Can you see the bamboo orchid towards the top of the photo?

Kamahi on the left, ?rimu trunk in the middle
 New Spring growth takes many forms; I love the new shoots on horoeka, Pseudopanax crassifolius, or lancewood - so delicate and soft at this stage.

Not quite as noticeable but just as perfect are the coprosma flowers - I won't even attempt to identify them but I love the way the 'petals' curl up.

Another coprosma but with a very different flower arrangement
I came across several deposits of whitetail poo out in the wetland area where the clematis was flowering - I guess there's new grass shoots in amongst the blackberry.

Think about slowing down on your next walk - I'd love to hear what you find :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

And now for something completely different!

I realised how much time I spend on the internet when my mobile broadband connection disappeared on Monday afternoon. With lots of spare time available I caught up with letter-writing, cleaned the house and talked to my plants and on Tuesday night I decided to have a play with Paint Shop Pro filters. Here's a different take on some of my photos...

New leaves on pate, fivefinger


Close up of above photo

Rata flowers

Sun orchid

Sunset from my driveway

Rainbow over Paterson Inlet

The above photo with a chrome filter
So much fun but I should have written down the filters I used as I created them. The internet signal was back up on Wednesday after a reboot at the Telecom end and I received great service from the Telecom help desk. Being internet-free has made me realise how much I rely on it for banking, ordering, checking weather, blogging and skyping. Perhaps it's not a silly idea to button back a bit though as I'm sure I'd get heaps more done around the house and section!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A rattie drought

I check my rat traps most days and average about 4 rats a month so it's been a tad strange having empty traps for 36 days in a row. It was a relief to get an adult male kiore in the last trap I checked yesterday as I'd almost forgotten what they looked like! I'm more than happy with rattie droughts if it means no rats are around but I suspect that they are still out there, just not tempted to go into the traps. I'll try a bait change at the weekend and see if that entices them in.

I spent last Sunday at Lee's home with a magnificent view overlooking Deep Bay, and had some close encounters with the kaka that come to her bird table. The cheeky birds tap on her window to get her attention and they certainly weren't scared of me getting in close for photos.

Their colours are more vivid at this time of year. I tried many times (without success) to capture their  red 'underwings' as they swooped in to land on the bird table; one of these days I'll fluke it!

It was a rather wet Sunday but there was a break in the weather late afternoon which made light-coloured patches on the water. Here's a couple of Deep Bay views from Lee's lounge windows.

It's fun to go orchid-spotting; we found 4 types of orchid on Ulva Island earlier this month and one of them was flowering. They are exquisite in their structure and I can't wait for the greenhoods and sun orchids to start flowering too. The Corybas below was less than 10cm tall so easy to miss if you walk too fast!

Spider orchid, Māikaika, Corybas rivularis

Fungi, too, are more common as temperatures increase - I love how the edges of this orange fungi are covered in hairs.

Orange fungi on stump

Close up of above
I planted more vege seedlings this afternoon in bright sunshine. An hour later a heavy hailstorm swept through dropping the temperature from 18°C to 8°C and leaving a carpet of white behind. Just as well my babies were snug under their plastic cloches!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vege update

The cold spell last week didn't slow the growth of the vege plants probably because I still have most of them either under plastic or in the greenhouse. They are bigger each time I look at them, see how they have grown in the last three weeks. The potatoes are also growing well and the new seeds have sprouted and will be ready for transplanting in a week or so.

Transplanted silverbeet seedlings. I bought these tree protector sleeves off
this TradeMe link - 25 of them for $12.90 + $5 postage (opens in new window)

Compare this photo with this one taken 22 September (scroll down). The
plants under the green plastic sleeves were taken from the front rows in
the September photo to give the others more space.

There's a large crop of fungi in one silverbeet bag - I was hoping that it might
be an edible one but NatureWatch guru, Clive, identified it as a Peziza spp
Check it out here (opens in new window)
A wee dandelion flowerhead stopped me in my tracks the other day - it looked so pretty with the heavy dew/slight frost glistening in the sunshine. I managed to fit in some photos before carrying on to work.

Further to yesterday's blog on Save the Kiwi Week, I will soon be the proud owner of this Pauline Morse limited-edition print of the Stewart Island Southern Tokoeka - there are three different prints of her kiwi paintings for the fundraiser, check them out this TradeMe link.

Last but definitely not least - consider buying Lorde's album, Pure Heroine. It's so far removed from bubblegum pop that just plays in the background; she's got a delightful voice with interesting music and poetic lyrics. I'm surprised how often the tunes pop into my head but then read this Stuff article this morning that explains why. My only criticism of the album is that it finishes too soon!! What an amazing talent.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

One for the birds

Daylight saving has given me a second chance to listen to the dawn chorus when I get up at 6.30am for work. It's not easy to capture surround-sound with a wee camera but with help from Audacity to amplify the audio and Movie Maker to create a movie, I hope I can share the experience with you. Korimako (bellbird, Anthornis melanura) make up most of the sound; Captain Cook described its song as "it seemed to be like small bells most exquisitely tuned". Here's 90 seconds of the dawn chorus on 9 October 2013 (974Kb):

There are several riroriro (grey warbler, Gerygone igata) territories around and their warbling song is very loud for such a small bird. They will be busy rearing clutches before the long-tail cuckoo arrives and lays eggs in the riroriro nests. I couldn't see the riroriro but here's the audio (15 secs, 329Kb) and there's a lovely picture of one at

As I walked home this morning I heard a putangitangi (Paradise shelduck, Tadorna variegate) female calling to her mate. Her shrill cries remind me of a nagging woman and the male's deep honk sounds like he's saying 'yes, dear'. They are only found in New Zealand and they mate for life. You can just make out the female on the left (with the white head) and the dark-coloured drake just to the right and walking towards her. More info can be found at (25 seconds, 414Kb).

I didn't have my camera out last Friday at midnight when the noisy rustling out from the deck turned into a kiwi. Carla and I were standing on the deck and we both saw it; exactly what I came down to the island to see. Monday 14 October is the start of 'Save the Kiwi' Week and with your help maybe future generations will be able to see kiwi in the wild too. Check out for special kiwi deals, or maybe pop a donation in the collection bucket at DOC.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A blog for someone special

A challenge for me: research a way to light up a bedroom during the night which doesn't involve a power plug, and share that info tonight with someone who doesn't have email. Isn't that what blogs are for???? So, here goes...

Option 1 seems like a good buy, a battery-operated (3 x AA) motion activated light from The Warehouse. Light stays on for 20 seconds after no motion detected. Currently out of stock for online ordering but might be able to find it instore.

Option 2: Clap and the light turns on. 6 x LEDs, magnetic base, runs on 3 x AA batteries, light turns off after 20 seconds until you clap again. Comes from the UK so not available immediately.

 Option 3: More expensive and ships from the US but far more interesting than the options above. It goes through the cycles of the moon and is operated by a remote control.
Option 4: There's a number of different options on TradeMe. This one is a 4 LED light with motion detector, uses 2 x AAA batteries, infra-red sensor.

Option 5: I'm guessing that these motion-activated bulbs go in the main ceiling light but they only appear to come with a screw (Edison) fitting. Turns off 1 minute after leaving the detect range.
Harry Potter's voice-activated magic wand torch was a possibility but the reviews suggest that there's a problem with it. Would be fun if it worked consistently though :).
 All suggestions welcome so please let me know if you know of something else.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What a weekend!

A long weekend with friends from Wellington has certainly put a spring in my step. I met Carla on a tramp in 2003 and she invited me to join her annual getaway trips where I met Gill and Julie. Great company, fab food and fun times at Taupo, Whakatane, Eastern Taranaki, Cape Campbell - and now Stewart Island. It was a full-on four days and the house is very quiet today. They made these wonderful screen-printed cushions for me - and brought packs loaded with lots of yummy goodies including fresh asparagus, chocolate, Vogels bread, cheeses, fruit and veges - I am so spoilt :)

Carla making a trunk call
We talked from early morning to late evening, had a fab afternoon over on Ulva Island, explored the beaches and walks around Oban and met my Island friends/workmates. The Weather Gods blessed us with sunshine - just perfect!

Gill checking out kiwi footprints alongside the road

Flowering native Clematis paniculata

Male and female seals lazing on Sydney Cove at Ulva Island

South Island Saddleback (Tieke) at Ulva Island

A 2003-fledged Stewart Island robin (toutouwai) feeding on a mealworm

Leaving Ulva Island at 4pm
On Saturday afternoon we walked to Māori Beach; about an hour's walk from the Lee Bay carpark. The track is Day 1 of the Rakiura Track 'Great Walk' and follows the coast with great views and beaches all the way to Port William.

The chain-link sculpture symbolising Maui's anchor rope

Coastal views from the track

The swingbridge at the western end of Māori Beach

View up river (haven't been able to find a name yet) from the bridge;
where's my kayak???