Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Farewell to September

It seems an age since I was in New Plymouth but then realised that I was there for 1 September - maybe my brain put the clocks forward a month instead of just an hour for daylight saving time! It's a tad hard getting up in the dark again but compensated by having time in the evening to work outside. Today has been a scorcher with my thermometer registering a low of 6°C and a high of 31°C. No wonder the plants get confused with a frost one day and midsummer temperatures the next!

Yesterday I filled up the ice-cream cabinet with soil, burying the dead possum in the process, and planted a new rhubarb plant on top. Today was the potatoes' turn and I now have 6 bags of sprouting spuds in the shade house. I'll take some photos when they poke some shoots through the soil.

Clearing out the shade house - I pulled out all the plastic
flooring and hosed it down. Old carpet would be better!

Underneath the plastic were 'knots' of long skinny worms - some over
30cm long - I thought they were threads to begin with
The fine weather is a good excuse to walk slowly round my traps each day to look for Darwin's barberry plants. It's easy to spot the adult plants as they are smothered in yellow/orange flowers but the seedlings are expert at hiding.

You're looking for a leaf like this...

...with yellow roots and stems if you cut through the brown outer layer...

...and this type of growth
It's great that I haven't found any flowering barberry on my section this year - when I first arrived there were plants all over the place.

Flowering Darwin's barberry - September 2011
When you're walking slowly then you see all sorts of things - how about this scurrying (and out-of-focus) barberry-flower lookalike...

Or this fly that let me get a photo before buzzing off...

It wasn't until I downloaded the photos to my computer this evening that I saw all the small white critters on the underside - can you spot any?

This beautiful orb spider is two steps away from the ranchslider so easy to keep an eye on it; the first photo shows the intricate detail on its abdomen and the second, taken after the sun went down, shows it keeping tabs on its web by resting one leg on a strand.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

BadJelly the Witch

What better way to spend an evening than to boo the villains and cheer the good guys! Halfmoon Bay School did a fab adaptation of Spike Milligan's 'BadJelly the Witch' last Thursday and thoroughly entertained the audience. All the children took part and they did an amazing job - not just on the stage but in the band as well.

A picture is worth a thousand words so will leave it to the photos to do the talking...

BadJelly and Dulboot plotting how to find children to eat

Lucy the cow wandered from her field and was taken back
to BadJelly's castle. Rose and Tim set off to find her.

Rose and Tim shelter at Binklebonk's house (right) to keep safe from
the Trouser Robbers (centre)

Mudwiggle the Worm and Dingle Mouse help Rose and Tim across the river

BadJelly changed the policeman into an Apple Tree

After climbing the mountain Rose and Tim get tricked by BadJelly

Oh no! Dulboot ties Tim and Rose up and they're going to be eaten in the
morning! Just as well Dingle Mouse hid in Tim's pocket - he chewed
through their ropes before escaping through the window bars.

Jim's an eagle and flies to the rescue after Dingle Mouse calls for help

BadJelly catches up with them but God intervenes

Jim flies Lucy, Rose, Tim and Dingle Mouse safely back home to Mum
and Dad, Fluffy Bum and Pom Pom

Curtain call - thanking the band
With 12 scenes and the same number of songs, the production team and children put in a huge effort for a very appreciative audience. Well done!!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Voting Day - part 2

My walk round Ryans Creek ended up at my friend's place for freshly-plunged coffee. Raylene owns Glendaruel, a wonderful Bed & Breakfast with a delightful garden and stunning views looking over the native bush canopy. There are always birds flitting around - kaka come down to feed or check out guests, tui and kereru perch in the fuchsia trees - you can feel the stresses of the world melt away as you sit and contemplate.

Kaka eating apple at Glendaruel
I bumped into Raylene on my second visit to the island in February 2010; our paths intersected as I hurried back to Bunkers Backpackers and whilst Raylene was out walking her new pup, MacPherson. In the space of 100m I discovered a kindred spirit and it was easy to accept her invitation of a glass of wine and to shelter at her home from the approaching rain. We talked non-stop until it was almost too dark to see my way back to Bunkers and I've made many a return visit. Raylene's support and friendship have been enormously helpful since that chance meeting and just a brief mention isn't enough so will blog more on the terrific trio of Glendaruel, Mac and Mac's Mum!

After coffee I wandered down the hill to Halfmoon Bay School to vote. This small school is extra-large on talent and last Thursday night a large audience was entertained by the school's presentation of an adaptation of Spike Milligan's 'BadJelly the Witch'. What a fun evening and full credit to the cast, band and production team for working their socks off - more in the next blog.

Voting to the left

Halfmoon Bay School's adventure playground
The 20 minute walk home from the school completed the round trip - I had to sneak in a couple of photos on the way...

Korimako (bellbird) on flowering wattle

More dewdrops on a tiny web

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Voting Day - part 1

I woke early on Saturday and it was a stunning morning, much too nice to stay in bed. I had a quick breakfast and set off round the long way to the Bay via the Ryans Creek Track.

Ryans Creek Walk - home is under the last 'e' of You are here
There was a good frost and the temperature was 1.8°C when I set off at 7.15am; not a lot of birdsong in the 15 minute walk to the start of the track. The track runs parallel to the airstrip; the first bit is fairly flat through native bush then goes downhill to Ryans Creek and Paterson Inlet.

A frosty start as I walked to the road end on Main Road

The picnic table where the track meets Ryans Creek
There's a few places where you get river views - the tide was out so I walked along the shore for a bit, then climbed back up to the track. I found a sloping trunk smothered with the native orchid Earina mucronata - it's going to look (and smell) stunning in early October and I'll be going back to get some photos to share with you.

A glimpse of Paterson Inlet

Ryans Creek - early morning reflections

On the shoreline of Ryans Creek

Where Ryans Creek meets Paterson Inlet

Can you spot the orchid fronds?
Look in the middle of the photo just to the right of the ponga (tree fern).

The second part of the track winds around the coastline - every turn brings new views...

King Rimu towering over the canopy - what a beauty
I reached the road end at Thule at 9.45am; from there it's a scenic 20 minute walk along the road to Halfmoon Bay School where I cast my vote.

Road works - widening the road between Watercress and Thule
after erosion/slips a year or so ago
Fishing boat at Thule

Looking east from Watercress down Paterson Inlet

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Orchid update

Spring is symbolic of new beginnings and every day I'm seeing evidence of this special season - the orange branches of the deciduous native tree fuchsia (kotukutuku) are now clothed in green leaves and flowers, the yellowhammer has started his repetitive 'a little bit of bread and no cheese' call and I've now found my first greenhood flower of the season.

Sun orchids (Thelymitra) reaching for the sky in early September

New spider orchid (Corybas) leaves

A clump of Pterostylis orchids on my boundary track including the first
flower of the season

Close-up of above - the flower's not quite open

The warmer temperatures are bringing some weird and wonderful fungi - I found this one on my walk home yesterday; when I looked closer today I found two more nearby. They are called 'brain fungi' or False morel, Gyromitra tasmanica.

Easy to see how they get the name 'brain fungi'

Taken 15 September

Taken 16 September - am I imagining it or is the stem redder?

A grey springtail (collembola) feeding on the surface of the false morel
More fungi along my drive

Native clematis climbing up a lancewood - the mature vines
will be flowering in the next month

Beautiful new growth colours