Spring growth is well underway in the Park with leaves on the bare branches of the deciduous trees and new growth showing on most of the others.
The white flowers of the tree lucerne are a favourite of kereru which are easily passed by unless they fly off noisily from close range. You may see the striking courtship flights with steep climbs to a stall followed by a long recovery swoop. I’m not sure how many pairs are based in the park but there are generally some to be seen at all times of the year. The nest is a flimsy platform of small sticks upon which a single egg sits, looking most insecure. But enough get to hatching to keep the numbers up. The call is a gentle ‘coo’. I’m pretty sure the kereru are responsible for delivering palm seeds from the town and some effort goes into removing the resultant seedlings.
Tuis are abundant and spend a good deal of their days chasing each other, and occasionally other smaller birds. Watch one singing if you can-many of the notes are not audible to humans but the effort is obvious. Popular feeding trees are the yellow flowered coastal banksias, of which there are several patches. They have some bottlebrush flowers most of the year and whilst a bit invasive, they are an important nectar source for tuis, bellbirds and silvereyes.
Some of our more troublesome weeds are flowering now including the pink ragwort, an extremely invasive daisy. In favourable areas it will grow over 2m tall and have hundreds of flowers but it will also survive and flower in cracks in the limestone cliffs. If you see any in your travels please pull them out. Holding the stem near the base and pulling gently will usually remove the remarkably small root system.
Keep an eye out for the NZ falcons which are occasional visitors. They are smaller, faster and bolder than the common harrier and the most likely place to see one is along the cliff edges where they are probably targeting feral pigeons
Friends of Te Mata Park