The Groynes, Trip #42

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Grassland and trees, near one of the ponds.

The natural parts of the Groynes include waterways and associated wetlands. The waterways include the Otukaikino Stream, and they all ultimately feed into the Waimakariri River, a short distance to the north. There are also areas of restored native bush.

We visited this site in June (2017); below is some of what we saw.

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One of The Groynes waterways, lined with Carex secta.


Birds seen included fantails, Australasian coots, shags, mallard ducks, scaup and pukeko.

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Pukeko (Porphyrio melanotus ssp. melanotus).


Not many insects were seen, probably because of the cold. The most notable was probably the black pasture fly, which had purple eyes.

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Black pasture fly (Hydrellia tritici).

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Non-biting midge (Family Chironomidae).

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Non-biting midge (Family Chironomidae).

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Giant willow aphid (Tuberolachnus salignus).

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Exoskeleton, possibly of a damselfly.


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Web of nurseryweb spider (Dolomedes minor).


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A liverwort (Chiloscyphus lentus).

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A liverwort, possibly Goebelobryum unguiculatum.

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A liverwort, Goebelobryum unguiculatum.


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Moss, possibly Tortula sp.

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Moss, possibly Tortula sp.

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Moss, with capsules.

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Moss, unknown species.

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Cypress-leaved plait-moss (Hypnum cupressiforme).

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Moss, probably Thuidium furfurosum.

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Moss capsules, possibly Tortula sp.


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Hard fern (either Blechnum minus or B. novae-zelandiae).

Shrubs & Trees

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Harakeke (Phormium tenax).

Weeping mapou (Myrsine divaricata).

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Broom (Cytisus scoparius).

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European alder (Alnus glutinosa).

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European alder (Alnus glutinosa).


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An orange algae on wood, possibly Trentepohlia sp.


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Gold-eye lichen (Teloschistes chrysophthalmus), on a prostrate kowhai.

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Beard lichen (Usnea sp.).

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Pixie cup lichens (Cladonia sp.).


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Bracket fungus (Class Agaricomycetes).

Aquatic Animals

There were many small creatures in the pond and waterways. We took a stereo microscope, with magnification up to 40 x.

The most abundant ones we could see, that were large enough to photograph, were a copepod in the Cyclops genus (within the subphylum of Crustaceans). These are so-called because of their single large eye. The one photographed below is carrying two large egg sacs.

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Copepod (Cyclops sp.).

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Copepod (Cyclops sp.).

There were also caddisfly larvae in the streams.

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic plants included duckweed and azolla on the surface of the pond, and water milfoil underwater.

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Common duckweed (Lemna minor) upside down, showing the rootlets.

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Azolla rubra, a floating fern.

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Water milfoil (Myriophyllum triphyllum).

Our thanks to NatureWatch for help with the identifications.

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Scott Scenic Reserve, Trip #41

In June we visited Scott Scenic Reserve, on the Port Hills.

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View down the hills, across Christchurch and towards the Southern Alps.

We mainly looked at a rock outcrop in the grassland, then went along a track through exotic forest.

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View of the rock outcrop and nearby trees.

The rock outcrop turned out to be prime slater and lady beetle habitat. We found several other creatures in the area as well.

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Slater and lady beetle habitat.

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Common rough woodlouse (Porcellio scaber).

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Eleven-spotted ladybird (Coccinella undecimpunctata).

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Orbweaver spider (Family Araneidae).

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Chalcidid wasp (Proconura sp.).

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Non-biting midge (Family Chironomidae).

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Ant (Family Formicidae).

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Not sure if these are tiny eggs that were under a rock, or possibly slime mold.

The rock outcrop was providing habitat for mosses, lichens and ferns.

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Cypress-leaved plait-moss (Hypnum cupressiforme).

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Wall screw-moss (Tortula muralis).

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Wall screw-moss (Tortula muralis) capsules.

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Wall screw-moss (Tortula muralis) in its dried-up state.

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Juniper polytrichum moss (Polytrichum juniperinum).

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Triquetrella papillata – in a fairly dry state.

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Cladia aggregata.

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Rock shield lichen (Xanthoparmelia sp.).

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Teloschistes velifer.

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Lichen, on rock.

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Ruffle lichen (Parmotrema reticulatum).

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Close-up of the edge of ruffle lichen (Parmotrema reticulatum).

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Yellow specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria crocata) – the brown one with yellow edges.

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Pixie cup lichens (Cladonia sp.)

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Necklace fern (Asplenium flabellifolium).

The outcrop also had grasses and a small succulent known as biting stonecrop.

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Biting stonecrop (Sedum acre).

The trees in the reserve are mainly planted conifers.

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Canopy of mainly conifers.

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European larch (Larix decidua).

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Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa).

Some of the trees had fungi and lichen growing on them, or insects boring into them.

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Sac fungi (Phylum Ascomycota) on macrocarpa.

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Ruffle lichen (Parmotrema sp.).

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Beard lichen (Usnea sp.), fallen off a branch.

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Holes in a tree.

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Walking along the track, under a canopy of mainly exotic trees.

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Volcanic rock.

Regenerating underneath the canopy were a surprising number of other species.

The smaller plants included ferns, liverwort and mosses.

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Necklace fern (Asplenium flabellifolium).

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Common polypody (Polypodium vulgare).

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Hound’s tongue fern (Microsorum pustulatum).

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Liverwort (Chiloscyphus semiteres).

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Ptychomnion aciculare.

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Lembophyllum divulsum (possibly).

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Campylopus clavatus.

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Triquetrella papillata.

Fungi were present too.

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Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria).

The earthstar fungi was interesting to see. There is a short time lapse video of one opening and releasing its spores here.

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Earthstar (Geastrum tenuipes).

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Wrinkled club fungus (Clavulina rugosa).

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Waxcap (Hygrocybe sp.).

Larger plants were mainly around the edges and along the track.

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Kidney weed (Dichondra repens).

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Leptinella (Leptinella squalida).

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Mikoikoi (Libertia ixioides)

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Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia australis).

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Scrambling pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia complexa).

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Round-leaved coprosma (Coprosma rotundifolia).

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Miki (Coprosma propinqua).

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Broadleaf (Griselinia littoralis).

Our thanks to the folk at NatureWatch, for help with identifications.

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Collection of cones, leaves and rocks.

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Cones, bark, rock.




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Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Southshore Spit, Trip #40

The South Brighton Spit separates the Avon-Heathcote Estuary from the Pacific Ocean. The end of the spit (the part with no houses) is quite a recent geological feature – outline maps show how the end has changed since the 1940’s, see here.

On this trip we looked briefly at an area of salt marsh on the spit, then explored the mud flats that were exposed by the retreating tide.

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Salt marsh.

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Mud (and sand) flats.


Salt marsh

It was a rather grey (intermittently wet) day, so there weren’t many different insects to see in the salt marsh. There were plenty of springtails though, if you looked closely.

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Springtail (Subclass Collembola) on a small sedge plant.

There were several rush and shrub species, and some makaka shrubs. Native shore celery was in amongst the grass around the edges. The succulent sea blight was also present.

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Slender clubrush (Isolepis cernua).

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Knobby clubrush (Ficinia nodosa).

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Jointed wire rush (Apodasmia similis).

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Makaka / Salt marsh ribbonwood (Plagianthus divaricatus).

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New Zealand celery (Apium prostratum var. filiforme).

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Sea blight (Suaeda novae-zelandiae).

Mud flats

Most notable on the mud flats were the birds. We saw Little Shags, New Zealand Pied Shags, White-fronted Terns, Caspian Terns, Variable Oystercatchers, and Bar-tailed Godwits. SP has done a post with photographs here.

On a smaller scale, at the edge of the mud flats were hundreds of shore flies.

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Shore fly (Scatella sp.).

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All the dark dots on the sand are shore flies (Scatella sp.).

Some shellfish were exposed on the mud – though there would have been thousands more buried below.

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New Zealand cockle (Austrovenus stutchburyi).

Holes, indicating many more animals below.

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Ostrich foot snail (Struthiolaria papulosa) – and bottom left, well hidden, is a mud crab.

The small bivalve shown below is unusual because it is one of the few bivalve species able to climb.

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Small bivalve (Scintilla stevensoni).

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Beaked barnacle (Austrominius modestus).

When the estuary drains out at low tide, several channels become apparent. We searched the water and found several interesting creatures.

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Searching the channels.

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Turbid water flowing into one of the main channels.

One was a pillbox crab, similar to one we found previously at McCormacks Bay.

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Pillbox crab (possibly Halicarcinus whitei).

Of particular note was a tanaid – these are a type of crustacean. They shelter within something else – in this case a hollow piece of wood – and scoot about at high speed. We have actually found the same species in a rock pool at Taylor’s Mistake.

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Top view of Cleantis tubicola, extending part way out of a hollow piece of wood.

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Underside of Cleantis tubicola.


Several different seaweeds were seen.

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Green sea lettuce (Ulva sp.) and red Sarcothalia sp.

Also seen was a hydrozoid – which we at first presumed was a seaweed. These are however a colony of animals.

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Hydrozoid, possibly Sertularia sp.

Another colonial animal we saw were Bryozoans, which are filter feeders.

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Bryozoans (Phylum Bryozoa).

Our thanks to NatureWatch for help with identifications.

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Edge of the spit, looking towards the Port Hills.




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Kennedys Bush Reserve, # 37

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In May we wandered through the top part of Kennedys Bush Reserve. This was still showing signs of the recent fires on the Port Hills.

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Below is some of what we saw.

(We also saw some birds, including welcome swallows, silvereyes and a quail).


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Spiders web on flax.

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Spider web with water on it.

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Goat (Capra hircus).


There are large burnt areas that are now covered in bracken. Quite a few weedy species have also appeared.

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Bracken (Pteridium esculentum).

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Vetch (Vicia sp.).

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Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

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Californian thistle (Cirsium arvense).

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Gorse (Ulex europaeus) seedlings coming up in a burnt area.

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Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius).

Flax was starting to come away again, plus there were some other native species in amongst the burnt areas.


Burnt flax (Phormium tenax).

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Convolvulus waitaha, by the side of the track.

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Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia australis).

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Some moss that has been partially burnt (Thuidium furfurosum).


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Firedots lichen (Caloplaca sp.), on rock.

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Firedots lichen (Caloplaca sp.).

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Lichens on rock.


Lichens on rock.

Our thanks to NatureWatch for their help with identifications.


Cabbage trees (Cordyline australis).

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McLeans Forest, Trip #36

In May, we had another enjoyable trip to McLeans Forest.

SP has also written a trip report see here. Our previous trips to the site (last year, 2016) are summarised here and here.

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This site is planted in pines, and very stony.

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Searching some moss and lichen with hand lenses.

As well as a general explore, we set up two 0.5mquadrats in the grassland and examined them closely to see what we could find.


Examining the quadrats.


The two species lists, in progress.

Below are photos of some of what we saw – both in the quadrats and in the surrounding area.


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Springtail (Order Poduromorpha).

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Springtail (probably Subclass Collembola).

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Millipede (Class Diplopoda).

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Ant with larvae (Family Formicidae, possibly Monomorium sp.).

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Lizard barklice (Family Caeciliusidae).

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Little fringed weevil (Atrichonotus taeniatulus).

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A mite with bright red legs (Subclass Acari).

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Mites on a tree trunk (Subclass Acari).

There were a few birds around too (mainly fantails), but we didn’t manage to photograph them.


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A native shrub, Muehlenbeckia axillaris.

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Oxalis corniculata var. atropurpurea.

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Wallaby grass (Rytidosperma sp.)

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Woolly mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

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Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

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Viper’s-bugloss (Echium vulgare).


The most common moss in the open areas was probably woolly fringe-moss. There were others though, and several species we have yet to identify under the trees.

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Woolly fringe-moss (Racomitrium lanuginosum) and juniper polytrichum moss (Polytrichum juniperinum).

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Campylopus clavatus.

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Cypress-leaved plait-moss (Hypnum cupressiforme).

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Possibly a moss, Lembophyllum divulsum.

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Moss, not sure which species.


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Possibly the liverwort Chiloscyphus semiteres.

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Goebelobryum unguiculatum.


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Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria).

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Deceiver fungus (Laccaria sp.).


One of the bolete fungi, Suillus subacerbus.

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Thelephora sp.

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The endemic fungi Hypholoma acutum, with cypress-leaved plait moss (Hypnum cupressiforme), and pine needles.

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White basket fungus (Ileodictyon cibarium).

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Fungus, growing on another fungus?

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Earthball (Scleroderma sp.)


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Cladia sp.

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Pixie cup lichens (Cladonia sp.).

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Pixie cup lichens (Cladonia sp.).

Our thanks to the folk at NatureWatch, for help with identifications.

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Upcoming Trip: Horseshoe Lake Reserve

Where: Horseshoe Lake Reserve (see maps below)
When: Monday 3 July 2017, 10 am until about 12

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Our meeting location is marked with a red pin on the maps below:

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Suggestions on what to bring:
* Sensible clothing (sturdy footwear, hats etc.)
* Any food or drink you might want
* Camera
* Notebook and pencil(s)
* Observation containers
* Identification books/apps
* Magnifying glass
* Collecting net
* Binoculars
* Suggestions for other locations to visit

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Scott Scenic Reserve Scenery 12-6-17

Here are some pictures of the city, the reserve, and the bay from up on the Port Hills at Scott Scenic Reserve.


Amazing clouds at different heights


view of the bay



Christchurch as seen from Scott’s Reserve


airplane contrail


Learning is happening here 🙂


View while hiking on the trail


Alpines as seen from near the reserve entrance


More Clouds


A wild and windy day


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