Wednesday 14 November 2012

Keens Road

Keens Road goes down to the Waimakariri Riverbed

Cabbage Tree Shadows on Keens Road

Mount Torlesse is in the distance.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Cloud Piercers

Back Peak and Otarama of the Torlesse Range

Sunday 11 November 2012


Red Shirley Poppy

Saturday 10 November 2012



Thursday 8 November 2012

Spring Sunshine

The Torlesse Range
Sheffield Valley with the Torlesse Peaks
The Hawkins River

 At this time of year there is water in the river.  For much of the year it is dry in this section.

The yellow broom adds colour to the landscape, but it is a noxious weed.

Large Narcissus Fly in a Pot Marigold

The large narcissus fly (Merodon equestris) is yet another accidental import from Europe.  It arrived in a consignment of daffodil bulbs and has spread over much of the country.

Although it looks like a small bumblebee it is a hoverfly.  It hovers above a flower before landing, and when it has finished feeding on the nectar it darts away so fast that it difficult to see which direction it took.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Road to the Sky

Road to the Sky

I had thought of calling this 'Road to Heaven,' but that would have been misleading.  Down there out of the chill wind the sunshine was balmy, the birdsong was glorious, and the fragrance from the golden broom was divine.

Tuesday 6 November 2012


Starling Chicks
I found this trio in a heap of dead leaves under the cabbage trees.  They had apparently fallen from their nest in the tree above.  They were clearly not ready to fledge, and they quickly burrowed into the leaves when I approached.  I watched from a window and saw that two adults were feeding them.  The chicks were very vulnerable to cats and stoats.

For three days they preened themselves, explored the heap of leaves, and exercised their wings.  At the end of this time they were ready to fledge.  The parents took them off to safety. It was a great relief for me.

Monday 5 November 2012

Rainy Day

Praying Mantis nymph (Orthodera novaezealandiae)

This tiny (1cm) mantis nymph is not deterred by the rain as it waits patiently for something to come along.

Sunday 4 November 2012

November Snow

Torlesse Range
  Although it is late spring the mountains still get falls of snow.

Wellingtonia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum)

Friday 26 October 2012

Spring Crop

Mount Torlesse  and oilseed rape

Thursday 25 October 2012

Stormy Sunrise

Rubicon Peak of Mount Torlesse 6.32 am
Back Peak and Otarama 6.34 am

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Wintry Conditions

Back Peak and Otarama at 1.36 pm

Tuesday 23 October 2012

More Fresh Snow

Torlesse Range from Springfield

 Yesterday's storm brought fresh snow to the mountains.

The Great Alpine Highway at the approach to Springfield.  On the left is Castle Hill Peak, the highest in the range at 1997 metres.  In the centre is The Gap, which is the distinguishing feature of the Torlesse Range when viewed from the Canterbury Plains.
Southern end of the Torlesse Range at 1.15pm

Sunday 21 October 2012

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

On a brief trip away from home I had the opportunity to visit the Moeraki Boulders.  They are a popular tourist stop situated on the Otago coast between Dunedin and Oamaru. (Wiki article) The boulders are huge rounded stones that have come from the sandstone cliff.  I have long been familiar with photos of the boulders, but I had not guessed the variety of their surfaces or the interesting formations revealed in the broken ones.  Apparently in the days before they were protected curious people blasted them.

Tourists exploring the boulders
Some are strangely textured
A shattered boulder

A boulder still emerging from the sandstone cliff

Fragments scattered on the beach.  The grey and rust area top right is the reef

Friday 19 October 2012

Fresh Snow

Mount Torlesse at 8.46am
There was a new fall of snow overnight.  The clouds made shifting patterns of light on the mountains.  The bird is a southern black backed gull, one of a group of five that circled overhead.  The brownish patch on the wing suggests that it is a juvenile.

Thursday 18 October 2012


Mount Torlesse at 8.16am
Starling in breeding colours

Starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, are common here.  There are 5 or 6 pairs nesting around my house.  They are not a nuisance at all.  They don't make use of the bird feeders, even in very bad weather, and they don't flock.  Only after the chicks have fledged do I see a group of 20 or so.  They spend most of their time grazing in the fields, but they come home at night and roost near their nest sites.  The males have favourite perches where they say their piece.  Their song consists of clicks and squeaks, chortles and gurgles, and fair imitations of lambs bleating, blackbird, bellbird, fantail and a stick being dragged along a picket fence.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Dwindling Snow

The southern end of the Torlesse Range at 7.26am
Warm conditions are melting the snow quickly.  Compare with yesterday.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Spiders and Mountain

The southern end of the Torlesse Range at 8.41am

Small Spiders Oxyopes gracilipes
Oxyopes gracilipes  males

There were several of these small (5-6mm) spiders sunning themselves on the alpine strawberry leaves this afternoon.  They were all the same size and shape, but had different markings.  These two interacted briefly, and not in a friendly manner.

Monday 15 October 2012


Torlesse at 3.33pm
A small bristle fly eating an even smaller fly
 The mountains were elusive today, mostly covered with fluffy clouds.  This was my best shot, through a haze.

Warm sunshine this afternoon brought out a variety of flies.  Here are just a few.  I don't know all their names and would be happy to have them identified.
A fly, but what sort with an orange scutellum? Perhaps a metallic blue hover fly.

All photos taken today.
Green blow fly Lucillia sericata

Small hover fly Melanostoma fasciatum
Tiny black and white striped fly

A very small fly

Sunday 14 October 2012

Fresh Snow

Mount Torlesse at 7.39 this morning

Yesterday's storm left snow right down to the foothills.

Saturday 13 October 2012


Waxeyes through a rain-wet window
Another cold, wet day.  The waxeyes are back for the apple.

Friday 12 October 2012

Nor'wester Effects

Clouds at 7.21am, with the Torlesse Range partly obscured by trees in the centre at the foot of the photo.

Mount Torlesse 9.29am

The nor'wester produces many different effects in the sky and on the mountains.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Mount Torlesse

Mount Torlesse at 9.36am

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Mountain Mood Change

Mount Torlesse at 7am
Back Peak and Otarama at 4.14pm

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Snow on the Foothills

Fresh snow down to the foothills, but the mountains are still hidden.  11.40am

Monday 8 October 2012

Zosterops lateralis, Waxeyes

Waxeyes, Zosterops lateralis, aka silvereye
A cold, wet day.  The waxeyes rely on food I put out on days like this.  There is competition from birds that come to challenge the residents.