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New Zealand: Orokonui

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A year ago today we spent several hours at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary north of Dunedin. At the entrance we gazed upon the broad and healthily handsome cabbage tree (Cordyline australis) shown below. In the foreground you see a stand of the ubiquitous plant known as flax in New Zealand English, harakeke in Māori, and Phormium tenax in botanese.

Among the kinds of native plants inside the reserve we saw one with clusters of white flowers. It turned out to be Ozothamnus vauvilliersii, known as tauhinu and mountain cottonwood.

Tauhinu belongs to a tribe of the sunflower family that I don’t remember having heard of, Gnaphaleae, though I see now that the tribe includes a genus that’s common in Austin. One clue that mountain cottonwood is in the sunflower family is the way its seed heads turn fluffy as they age:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 27, 2018 at 4:42 AM

New Zealand: panache

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How could I not record the panache of toetoe (pronounced in Māori tó-eh-tó-eh, placed in botany in the genus Austroderia) at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary northeast of Dunedin on February 27th?

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2017 at 4:46 AM

New Zealand: shooting two birds

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Shooting* not with one stone or several, but with a camera, of course. The other bird that I managed to get a picture of at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary northeast of Dunedin on February 27th proved to be a juvenile bellbird, Anthornis melanura. It was head guide Sue Hensley who once again provided the identification, adding: “The bellbird looks to be a young one with a dark rather than a red eye. I love the feet and the position you have photographed it in.”

If you’d like to see an adult bellbird, you can check out a picture of one I took on our previous trip to New Zealand.

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* Speaking of shooting, this was a difficult picture to get because I had to shoot up toward an area that was much brighter than many of the bird’s parts that faced me.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 14, 2017 at 5:00 AM

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New Zealand: South Island robin

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When we walked along a shaded trail at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary on February 27th we came upon a bird that hopped about and flitted around close to us without seeming afraid. I later learned from head guide Sue Hensley that the bird was a South Island robin, Petroica australis. The behavior we observed is confirmed (and much more information is added) at New Zealand Birds Online: “Where robins are regularly exposed to people, such as along public walking tracks, they become quite confiding, often approaching to within a metre of a person sitting quietly. Juveniles will sometimes stand on a person’s boot.”

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2017 at 4:56 AM

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New Zealand: Koromiko flowering

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Another plant we saw at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary northeast of Dunedin on February 27th was this flowering koromiko bush (Veronica salicifolia, formerly Hebe salicifolia). A raised walkway let me look straight down onto the top of this attractive shrub. Thanks to Sue Hensley, head guide at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, for identifying the species.

If you’d like a closer look at a flower spike from another Hebe species, you can check out a photograph from our first visit to New Zealand.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 16, 2017 at 4:47 AM

New Zealand: Hooker’s mountain daisy

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At the Orokonui Ecosanctuary northeast of Dunedin on February 27th we saw some Hooker’s mountain daisies (Celmisia hookeri), a species classified as being at risk. Notice the white-margined leaves.

As with many other plants in the sunflower family, this one’s flower heads give way to puffball-type seed heads.

After the seeds fall away, the remains are rather sculptural:

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2017 at 4:28 AM

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