September Update

The Moon Eclipse on 8th  October 2014

I managed to get up half way through the night to watch this reddish eclipse and it was certainly worth the effort. It was a full eclipse too and they always seem to go slowly except when one is trying to take some photos! Too long an exposure and the moon becomes elongated. In the northern hemisphere it is known as a Hunter’s Moon and more generally a Blood Moon and this no doubt because of the reddish colour as the earth’s shadow passes over the it.

The next eclipse will be on 5th April 2015, during the middle of the night so let’s hope for a clear sky, warm clothes and another try with the camera.

Elephant Weevil

Elephant Weevil

Weevils and Ducks:

An unusual visitor we spotted resting on the wall of the house was an Elephant weevil (Rhyncodes ursus). About 20 to 25 long, with a longish snout which looks quite funny as it shuffles along. The Elephant Weevil lays its grubs and they bore into beech trees and as there are not too many beech trees nearby I thought it more likely to be a Gorse-seed weevil (Apion ulicis) which looks very similar and was introduced by Nelson’s Crawthron Institute to help control gorse. Their larvae feed away inside the seed pods and later when the seed pods burst open in the hot sun, the newly hatched weevils are flung wide to continue their good work. However, as the Gorse-seed weevils are only 2mm long I’m sure our specimen was the former.

Over the back fence in the paddock one morning we watched a mallard duck herding her brood through the grass. To the ducklings, the grass must have been like a giant forrest and we wondered how long before the local cats reduced them one by one.

A Visit to Australia:

Shirl, with her daughter Kathy,  had several days in Australia to attend her brother Kevin’s wedding mid September. It was south of Sydney at a place called Murray’s Beach, situated on the largest salt water lake in Australia. It was an informal occasion in very pleasant surroundings.

Rocky Ridge Plantings in September

Rocky Ridge Plantings in September

Conservation Work – Will’s Gully:

Shirl and I have been busy spraying along the Borderline fence to keep the weeds from encroaching onto our area. I start off with 15 litres of spray while Shirl carts up the next 15 litres of water from the creek. By the time we have sprayed 45 litres, we figure it’s time to go home! Other work we have done is to start clearing away weeds in readiness for next years autumn plantings.

One morning as I was walking up the gully, I spotted a duck with about 10 to 12 and ducklings in the creek just before the creek crossing. She was heading downstream with her brood and I guessed that they had recently hatched and that she was heading for the pond on the other side of Hill Street. If she could get all her little ones down to there, I think they would have a good chance of survival but first the gauntlet of the human housed cats.

Duck & Brood up Will's Gully

Duck & Brood up Will’s Gully

Up the gully one morning and came upon a young pig at the Lone Fern Corner. Just a little chap and as I tried to get a photo he took off. I chased him up that rough road heading up the valley and came across mum with and the rest of her brood. In approaching I had picked up a couple of hand sized rocks so when mum rose and started to move I threw a rock and all ‘hell’ broke loose with piglets going in all directions. They seemed to be all around, running this way and that, through my feet before disappearing into the scrub.  Although I had my grubber, I missed with each swipe. I should have got at least three but I must be getting old. I just hope they will all go far away as they can and do, cause considerable damage to the plantings in the gully.

Rabbit Island:

After checking the trap lines and replacing the egg baits on the coastal traplines, Ron, Alex and I set out five rat traps in an area of wetland on Rough Island (which is beside Rabbit Island). This spot has many cabbage trees, kanuka and other natives plants right amongst the pine forest. I guess this area was left by the pine tree planters because it was too wet but it is now, by luck than good management, considered a native vegetation remnant area of significance. It will be interesting to see what wildlife lives here and also, of course, what the pest situation is.

Wakefield Church

Wakefield Church

A Wakefield Walk:

One Saturday morning late September, we had a walk along the new bike trail heading for Wakefield and we came by St Johns Church. Normally these days churches are locked but on this day there was a working bee and as we passed, it was morning tea time. We were invited to join in with a cup of tea and even biscuits! The church is quite old in New Zealand terms, being built in 1846 and has been in continuous use ever since. The stained glass windows unseen from the outside, the exterior covered with some obscure vandal proof material, which made the inside viewing light quite good for photography.  Wandering around the cemetery, one noted the early settler names and the two large Redwood trees growing there were magnificent specimens.

Pelorus River Walk:

Morning Tea at Pelorus River, Emerald Pool.

Morning Tea at Pelorus River, Emerald Pool.

We joined our walking group for a wander up the Pelorus River to the Emerald Pool. At the Emerald Pool we had morning tea, while watching a large eel slowly move along nearby. Although it was quite a warm day, no-one was tempted to go for a swim. Around this time of the year of course the greenhood orchids have their erie display.  We came across several of Pterostylis banksii in full ‘bloom’. Some walkers went further towards the Captain Creek Hut but I was content to wander back and just enjoy the wide variety of native plants growing along side the track with the river murmuring below. The ice-cream at the cafe was good though.

Pterostylis banksii

Pterostylis banksii


September rainfall at our place was 94mm. A lot less than our monthly average of 116mm and the 124mm that fell last September.

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