Sunday, June 29, 2014

Behind the times

The shortest day has been and gone and my good intentions to put a blog up last Friday night were thwarted when a power cut at 7.15pm plunged most of Oban into darkness. My computer, TV and lights were on at the time but fortunately all of them fired up okay when the power came back on at 9.30pm (thank goodness for surge protectors). Apparently an insulator 'blew' on the overhead power lines causing a bright flash before everything went black.

On 20 June I was given extra work hours to write a scoping report with the proviso that the time was only available until the end of the month (end of financial year). It's been good to fire up the brain cells again but not being home during the daylight does have its drawbacks. I've needed a torch to check the rat traps - definitely worth it though with the tally for the month at 15 with one more day to go. The dark chocolate drop bait was well ahead but then today both rats were caught with Nutella.

The roadworks are slowly making their way up Main Road with relatively minor disruption to vehicles; this might not last for much longer as I think they'll be crossing the road next.

New stormwater drains being installed under the footpath

Glowing Sky shop to the right with roadworks to the left of the ute

Our great well-stocked Four Square Supermarket
Moments before taking these photos I'd seen that someone with a sense of humour had put Half Moon Bay up for sale - great sea views, beachfront section and a free Locations real estate sign...

Not for me - it loses the sun too early!

Prime views of ferry terminal, Half Moon Bay, Stewart Island
The proposed new museum site and the DOC Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre were both in full sunlight as I walked back up Main Road. My office window will be blocked by the back wall of the museum once it gets built but maybe I'll be retired by then :)

The new museum site - fire station to the left and DOC centre back

The Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre in full sun and not a breath of wind
The shortest day seems out of kilter this year due mainly to the moon phase making for light early mornings; most years I've needed a torch to walk down my drive at 7.40am but not this year. It's very black outside now though and it would be a brave Islander to venture far without a torch or two. There are a few streetlights down in the village and I can usually make out the white-painted road markings to get a bit further but once I turn off on to the metal road then it's torches on.

The orchids and fuchsia trees are also out of kilter; they seem to be sprouting new leaves and flowers so I guess nobody's told them that it's Winter at the moment. Maybe the cold spell in early May, followed by mild temperatures, has triggered their Spring juices.

New Fuchsia excorticata buds

The orchids are starting to sprout as well

Monday, June 16, 2014

More fungi

I'm considering moving some rat traps. I rarely catch rats on the back half of the bush section so thinking of bringing those traps nearer the house. The tally so far this month is 10, significantly more than the 9 for all of May, 8 in April and a total of 8 for January to March combined. If I move the traps then it spoils previous statistics but I guess it's much better to get the rats!

There's always fungi to look at - some stay for ages but others are there one day and gone the next. I thought this bell-shaped fungi would be easier to narrow down but so far the only one I've found with the right shape is only found in beech forests (no beech forests on Rakiura).

Decaying fungi after a few days

I know I've shown this type before but it's such a delicate wee
thing that it's worth showing again

Close-up of the concave cap

Side view of the pretty fungi below

Another one I can't identify!! Time to go back to my books...
It was a stunning day last Thursday and I spent most of the afternoon wandering through the bush and looking for weeds.

The Cladonia floerkana is still looking great

What wonderful diversity - at least 10 different species in this wee patch

The sun shining through a large miro canopy

Winter warmers

The days are short and the sky is generally grey but there's still plenty going on to warm the heart. Winter is soup and woodburner time - it might be cool outside but definitely warm and cosy inside. It's dark when I walk to work so I have to wait until lunchtime to check out the driveway to see who visited overnight. There's usually whitetail deer prints but every now and then the kiwi visit...

Gumboot and kiwi prints

A very welcome visit from a kiwi family
I bought a Goodnature possum trap 20 months ago but it hadn't caught any possums. An expert was in at work and suggested moving the trap to a smaller tree and putting it down lower, but at least 70cm above the ground to protect kiwi. He also swapped my trap for a later version and I installed it on another totara not far from the first. Just a few weeks later and I got my first kill - a good-sized male that is now buried deep under my new rhubarb seedlings.

My Goodnature possum trap had its first catch

One possum down, 30-50 million to go
I was out walking at dusk last Wednesday; there was a stiff easterly blowing, the almost-full moon was rising over Foveaux Strait and hints of glowing skies.

Moon rising over South Sea Hotel

Seaweed-covered Halfmoon Bay

Colourful dinghies on Halfmoon Bay

Looking west over the township

Looking NE over stormy seas at Ringaringa Beach
The exhilarating walk was well worth it with a yummy dinner and a most enjoyable viewing of Despicable Me 2 in 3D; I've missed out on most of the animated movies and can see that I have a lot of catching up to do. I walked home in the moonlight, no torch required. What a neat way to spend an evening!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Computers and kakapo

I feel a bit of a fool telling this story but I'm also very relieved that my 'dead' computer came back to life four days after it got zapped in the lightning strike. I was packing it up to send it away and thought I'd check out what lights came on so I could jot down a short report for the technicians. Not only did all the lights come on but it booted fine and has been going ever since! I don't want to question why; I reckon it's a miracle and I now have a full backup safely tucked away. Others haven't been as lucky with zapped motherboards, modems and power supplies.

We've had far less rain than places further north but that doesn't mean that the ground is dry. The water table isn't far from the surface at the best of times and it's rare to walk across grass without squelching. The roading guys have been clearing ditches at the front corner of my section with the cunning plan of moving water away from the roadside and preventing flooding in heavy rain.

There's a culvert under the road on this corner but the natural water
table level pretty much fills it up all the time

The west side (lhs in pic above) of the culvert

The east side (rhs in first pic) of the culvert

The new drainage channel now bordering the front of my section

Even after extensive digging, the culvert is barely out of the water

Not too many mud puddles on my driveway - the trees are growing fast
and it won't be long before the house is hidden

Kakapo are one of the reasons that I moved to Stewart Island - my life's U-turn happened after living on Codfish Island for two weeks as a feed-out volunteer. I spent a lot of time with Sirocco, the world-famous kakapo and great ambassador for his species. At present, parrot behavioural specialist, Barbara Heidenreich, is on Codfish and there's fascinating footage of her with the kakapo (link opens in new window). There's also heaps of information on this unique bird, along with volunteering opportunities here

Temperatures have been a bit cool with the easterly so I'm wearing my woolly hat when I go out; it made me smile when I saw a family of fungi on the roadside all wearing their hats too.