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Showing posts from January, 2011


Having developed the habit of watching out for birds, then one is also likely to observe those other beautiful creatures on the wing, butterflies.
The Monarch butterflies are hard to miss as they float about our gardens, alighting on some flower or leaf, giving us time to observe and admire. They are just so voluptuous drifting about the garden before being carried off like any baggage by some male to keep sequestered. Our own endemic butterflies, the red and yellow admirals, however, are likely to be missed as they flit very quickly away before one has a chance to observe their beautiful colouring, the patterns of yellow and the red on black.
Gibbs, the grandson of our most illustrious entomologist G.V. Hudson, claims the Monarch is a native, having got here under its own steam, following the plantings of the milkweeds by missionaries across the Pacific Islands. However, with their legendary ability to fly over enormous distances, they may well have arrived in NZ somwhat earlier as…

Biological control of Australian brush-tailed possums

Dear Sir
The Parliamentary Commissioner of the Environment has raised the issue
of biological control of possums.  Some 15-20 years ago possums in my
neck of the woods in the eastern Bay of Plenty were virtually wiped
out by a virulent strain of "wobbly possum syndome".  The controversy
surrounding the control of possums and 1080 was raging then as now and
biological control was being actively pursued. A virologist visited my
farm to collect samples. I heard nothing more of his efforts and the
possibility of biological control seemed to just disappear from the
scene. I gathered from other sources that Australian wildlife
officials objected to the development of a bio control agent as they
feared it would jump the Tasman and wipe out their (protected)
possums. I  am curious to know where this issue is now.
Incidently, for those who oppose the use of 1080, watching possums die
of wobbly possum syndrome was very distressing.

Published Dominion Post, January 17, 2011

Elegy for the Weka (Woodhen)

Unbridled your curiosity and with a propensity to annex anything moveable, I salute you Weka, synonym for a thief. Crafty and impudent, what does it take for a flightless bird to survive against the odds, to survive hoons, lazing on verandas in the summer heat, using you for target practice: and Lady Barker, - “They run quickly, availing themselves of the least bit of cover, but when you hear a short, sharp cry, it is a sign that the poor Weka is nearly done and the next thing you see is Fly shaking a bundle of brown feathers vehemently. All the dogs are trained to hunt these birds, as they are a great torment, sucking eggs and killing chickens.”