30 December 2014

Rifleman near Leon Kinvig hut, Ruahine Range

On the way down the track from the Ngamoko Range and only about quarter of an hour from the river, I came across what I'm sure was a family of titipounamu (Acanthisitta chloris; rifleman), Aotearoa's smallest bird, foraging in a small red beech. Trying to photograph them was an exercise in frustration, but I eventually managed this, a photograph of what I think is the juvenile. These tiny birds never fail to delight me.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

27 December 2014

The Ngamoko Range from near Toka Biv

A belated Merry Christmas, everyone :^)

I was here on Christmas Day after arriving at Toka Biv in light rain that turned torrential towards evening, but I woke on Boxing Day in time to see the Ngamoko Range looking like this. The Ngamoko is a branch of the main Ruahine Range; the headwaters of the Pohangina River separate the Ngamoko on the west from the Ruahine on the east. The Ngamoko is much higher than the Ruahine here; Toka Biv sits at the edge of a basin on a spur leading from the Ngamoko Range down to the Pohangina River.

Later in the morning I climbed back up to the Ngamoko Range, which by then had become clagged in with cloud, and made my way down to Leon Kinvig hut in the Pohangina headwaters. This morning I climbed back up and over the range to the car. I'd seen no one else during the entire trip until I was partway down the other side, just an hour or so from the car. From there, I met 17 people in four parties coming up the track. Guess I timed my trip right.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

21 December 2014

Miromiro; North Island tomtit

I'd just finished photographing an ink berry flower on the No. 1 Line track when two small birds appeared, flitting around in the undergrowth. I still had the macro lens on, but decided to try for a photograph with that instead of fiddling about trying to swap lenses. In a stroke of great luck, one of the birds came close to check me out, giving me the opportunity for several fairly close photographs.

This is the North Island subspecies of miromiro, the tomtit. Given the streaking on the head, I'm fairly sure this is a juvenile female.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

19 December 2014

Hoherius meinertzhageni

Here's another example of one of the world's wonders that most people will never see. These tiny beetles, only about the size of a match head, live only in New Zealand and only on plants in the mallow family — mostly lacebarks and ribbonwoods (as far as I know, but we know so little about them that any surprises won't be surprising). The colours and textures often camouflage them well and are strikingly beautiful as well, but it's the male's huge and bizarrely flattened head that might be one of their most fascinating characteristics. In this profile photograph (the only one I managed) you can get some impression of the the size (yes, those are his jaws nibbling on the twig) but to appreciate the true strangeness you need to see him head on. I'll see if I can find some more and get some better photographs.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

16 December 2014

Green mahoe moth (Feredayia graminosa)

On Monday afternoon I walked the No. 1 Line track again and brewed Lapsang Souchong tea at the top seat. A cool, blustery easterly whipped over the crest of the southern Ruahine range; cloud shadows raced across the mountainside; patches of warm sunlight visited but didn't stay long. A few blowflies roared around; big crane flies bumbled about, clumsy, catching their seemingly spaghettified legs on anything and everything; nothing offered much opportunity for worthwhile photographs.

On the way back down, I stopped to inspect the trunk of a big tawa. A distinct shadow drew my eye to an elongated protuberance on a patch of lichen and moss. Closer inspection showed this beautiful noctuid moth: Feredayia graminosa, the green mahoe moth, so named because its caterpillars feed on mahoe (whiteywood). NatureWatchNZ uses the alternative common name 'mahoe stripper moth', but search engines might misinterpret that, so I'll stick with 'green mahoe moth' ;^)

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

14 December 2014

Last days in Leh

One of the last views I had of Leh, shortly before I left for the last time.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

07 December 2014

Kitchen dweller

From time to time an occasional cockroach turns up inside. This little one was happy to sit on the side of a kitchen cupboard while I photographed (I've rotated the photograph 90°); in fact, it was so cooperative I was able to place a ruler carefully alongside to measure it (13mm if you want to know). I like the way the photograph suggests how beautifully adapted these amazing little insects are for speed and the ability to slip away out of sight.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

04 December 2014

Fern on fern, No. 1 Line

This small fern (probably Rumohra adiantiformis) was growing from the trunk of a tree fern on the No. 1 Line track.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor