Winter in Te Mata Park means a bit of mud on the tracks, the occasional slip, and even a rare brief waterfall, but the Park is still a great place to visit at any time of the year.
Short days mean the opportunity to see sunrises and sunsets at sensible times and this season there has been the added bonus of the planet Mars in the eastern sky, closer than usual and more obviously red. Venus is always bright in the western sky.
The cold weather is important for killing bugs and is the time for deciduous trees to shed old or diseased leaves.
Birds are establishing territories, with tuis and thrushes particularly vocal. The music that they make is of course, not to please us, rather it is to let others of their species know that the singer is the owner of an area suitable for raising a family. Some of the male aggression extends even to other species.
Winter flowering cherries are an important nectar source for tuis and bellbirds, at a time when there is not much else in flower. Like most good things there is a downside; in the case of the cherries the small fruits are popular with birds, and seedings are pretty widespread, often in places where they are not welcome.
The fogs of winter and early spring occasionally create opportunity to see a spectre of the Brocken. This phenomenon occurs when the sun casts the observer’s shadow on the mist behind and is not uncommon on the Peak. Less common is a spectre with a circular rainbow surrounding it. Have your camera with you on those misty mornings.
For Friends of Te Mata Park, winter is a chance to get native trees in the ground, and while it is probably not obvious this winter as most of the planting is filling in gaps, many trees have been put in. Species palatable to rabbits have chicken wire surrounds, which need to be removed once the tree is large enough and there needs to be some releasing if competition is too fierce. We choose species which will not require watering.
We have also been rescuing ferns and flax, in vulnerable locations, and re-locating to areas where they will thrive.
Friends of Te Mata Park