Monday, November 30, 2015

Hello Summer

I won't be sorry to farewell Spring; the strong El Nino has given us a chocolate box of weather - wet, windy, frosts, hot sunshine and low cloud. I think there's been more disruption to ferry and flights lately than in the past 4½ years that I've been living here. I have a min/max thermometer on my ranchslider and, whilst it's not protected from the sun shining through the deck roof, it gives an indication of the changeable weather we've had in the last week.

Low cloud and wet trampers

Late afternoon - wet and windy

The weather today - beautiful clouds, sunshine and warm temperatures
My vege seedlings can't work out if it's winter or summer; I heard on TV that tomato plants will 'sulk' if the night temperature drops below 10°C but I could be waiting all year to wait till then!

Still, with sunsets like last night it doesn't take long to forget the wind and rain and realise how lucky I am to live here.

The aliens are coming
I love this striking rimu near my drive

Saturday, November 7, 2015

An evening with Neville Peat

Neville Peat is a renowned author and was awarded the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers' Fellowship in 2007. His books on Stewart Island have been well researched and I often consult his 'Rakiura Heritage' book for island history. He has recently updated his 'Stewart Island Rakiura National Park' title and returned to Stewart Island last week to give a talk on some interesting characters.

The hermit of Whero Rock was Lance Richdale, a teacher and ornithologist born in 1900 who went to extreme lengths to research birds. His pioneering work with albatross is reflected in the naming of the Richdale Observatory at Taiaroa Head which was opened in 1983, the year that Richdale died. He spent his holidays on a lump of rock in Paterson Inlet studying titi (muttonbirds) and initially lived in a tent but later in a small shed that was built for him.

The evening talk was held at the Community Centre and when I came outside I was greeted by a group of kaka who put on the after-talk entertainment! At the bottom is a short video (6.6Mb) of them making an unusual noise that I hadn't heard before.

Love that flash of red under their wings

Friday, November 6, 2015

A different kind of yellow

We had settled weather at the end of October and I took advantage of the lighter evenings to check out the road-side banks on the way home. The dandelions are shooting forth and I won't have time this year to spend hours weeding them out. Nice to see the orchids appearing and every now and then a surprise is lurking for those who look closely.

What's that between the dandelions?

Ahh, yellow fungi with a concave top and frilly white bottom

It's a gilled fungi but I haven't been able to identify
it yet - Autumn is a more common time

Top view showing the deep concave cap
Another object with a distinctive shape is a dragon fruit, Hylocereus undatus, a species of cacti. Our 4 Square supermarket often has some of the more exotic fruits and vegetables and the dragon fruit had novelty appeal despite their cost. After being asked several times what they tasted like, I decided that the only way to know was to try it out.

Half a dragon fruit - the outside

The edible bit!
It's not easy describing the subtle taste but it is refreshing with a texture similar to watermelon. I do know that I find gold kiwifruit more appealing though and I could get a kilogram for the same money. Perhaps dragon fruit have a lot more taste in Asia and the Americas.

The weather had a wintry turn on 29 October; I was out checking my traps when a 10 minute hailstorm turned the track to white. No wonder the fungi are confused!

Greenhood orchids

Spider orchid chilling out
Puawhananga, the native clematis (Clematis paniculata), continues to flower and now the bush lawyer is laden with clumps of sweet-smelling blossom.

Close-up of bush lawyer flower - perfection!

The huge blossoms of the native bush lawyer