July 2014 Update Bells’ Track

Tena koutou katoa

The planting for this year is just about complete with some 500 plants having been put in..   This is a record amount so a very big thanks to all who helped in one way and another.  The bulk of the plants came from the City Council together with a good number from Nick and Jase and our own nursery.   Thanks to Crystal and Simon for allowing us to store the plants at their place.   Last Saturday saw a good number turn out to plant and improve the area around the ANZ seat.  This will I hope be a pleasant picnic spot for those using the track.

The next working bee will be Sunday 3rd August but I will not be there as I will be sunning myself with my partner John on the Queensland coast.  If anyone has the time it would be good to weed up the edges of the track around our new planting at the top..  Now we are working in a more exposed area it will pay over the summer months to keep an eye on the new plants and, if they are rocking in the wind, place some stones at the base..  Also it may be necessary to clip some of the foliage so they have a good chance to establish themselves.   September will be a time to hand weed around plants and there is still some mulch by the first seat to use although this is getting low.   I hope to organise two truckloads of mulch in late September or early October and have it shifted up the hill again by some PD workers.  The group meeting 11am Tuesday mornings by the Awarua St  railway station is making a big difference to the area.

The flora this month is again a plant that we have put in this year….Pennantia Corymbosa or kaikomako.   The fauna is the Karearea ( NZ falcon).   Although this was covered in the Novemebr 2012 Update I thought it could be good to mention again as one has been sighted in the street above our home.   Also the Dompost published a wonderful photo of one in full flight above an item about how they are being used around  vineyards to discourage the pesky exotic birds.

He konei  ra


Kaikomako ( Pennantia corymbosa)

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 1.50.37 pmThe name kaikomako does translate to bell bird food; the kai being food and komako being an abbreviation of korimako.  It has also been called the ducks foot plant as in its juvenile stage the leaves are in the form of a ducks foot.   The juvenile stage has densely interlaced twigs and the small leaves make it readily recognisable.   The adult branches are stouter and not interlaced and the alternate adult leaves  are 2-5cms long by 2-4cms wide with large rounded teeth.   The flowers are small white and wind pollinated.   The berries are black 8-9mm long.   Flowering is from late spring through summer with berries from mid-summer through autumn.   We look forward to these making a distinct mark up the track. 


Karearea ( NZ Falcon)

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 1.50.48 pmThis is a threatened species so using them in vineyards to keep down the numbers of grape loving birds such as starlings and blackbirds has merit.   They do not kill for fun (unlike a cat), the falcon only kills when it is hungry.   They have a minimal impact on our native birds which have evolved in a way to more readily deal with them.   It has been said that they take out the weakest of the native birds thus leaving the gene pool strong.   It has the characteristic hooked beak, long pointed wing and tail of falcons..   It averages 45cms long and 400gms in weight.   The colouring of the upper side grades from dark brownish black to bluish black with narrow white cross barring.   The underside is buff grading to dark brown with dark streaks and white bars.   They have been clocked doing speeds of more than 200 k.p.h.   They take a range of smaller vertebrates and larger invertebrates, native and introduced, including birds, young rabbits, hares , grasshoppers and beetles.