Environment – Rewards of getting involved

Native clematis Photo, Richard Chambers

The seasons roll by. The days get longer then shorter, hotter then colder, always changing. But in spring it feels like this really speeds up. Every day there is something new.

We see a progression of new life, from white clematis flowers in August, followed by kowhai, then flax, then pohutukawa by Christmas. But these are just the big ones. Look a little closer and you’ll find smaller treasures like kumerahou flowering on clay roadside banks, or step into the bush to find small hooded ground orchids flowering right now.

On the birding side we see black fluffy balls of spur-winged plover chicks, half-grown paradise shelduck families and at Shakespear Park I’m sure you will find robin chicks already leaving the nest. In my own garden, thrushes have fledged and a blackbird has relined last year’s nest just outside my lounge window. No eggs yet.

Rather incredibly NZ dotterels have been trying to nest at Manly again, this time at the Manly Fire Station. This wasn’t successful but the birds can be seen at the beach most days and will no-doubt try again. Please care for them.

So how to take all this in when we’re inside for most of our lives? Well, a growing number of people take themselves out every week to check pest trap lines in all corners of the Coast. From the clifftops of Army Bay to the sheltered coastal forest of Eaves’ Bush at the north end of Ōrewa, these people are checking traps and bait stations, making sure each is as ready as possible to catch any rat, possum, weasel or stoat that comes along.

It’s while you are out doing this regular routine that you start to notice the changes, the small things that don’t make themselves obvious until you put the time in.

Something I think everyone notices is the great show of pohutukawa as they flower all along our coastlines and many of our streets before Christmas. But go back a few decades and on parts of the Hibiscus Coast these trees were struggling under the browsing of possums. Even now, up the back of Hatfields Beach I’ve seen totara trees, another possum favourite, with flat top haircuts from continual possum grazing.

But control efforts by Auckland Council, Hibiscus Coast Forest and Bird, and Shakespear Open Sanctuary volunteers are continuing to push back on this with the results we see today. So if you don’t know if possums are being controlled in your area, then get in touch with Forest and Bird to borrow a trap and receive the necessary advice to use it. 

Once you’re out there you never know what you’ll see.