Pukaha Mount Bruce

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-43-48-pmWesley and I visited Pukaha Mount Bruce this afternoon whilst Mike was helping some friends on a farm nearby.  Mount Bruce is a wildlife restoration centre that focuses on reestablishing endangered and rare New Zealand birds.  The centre spans some 940 hectares of dense native forest and is a beautiful place to hike and enjoy a native forest.

We spent a few hours walking around taking in all the gorgeous colours and sounds.  At the moment the forest is absolutely teeming with cicada.  The sounds of summer calling in the humid air!

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-35-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-37-14-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-08-pm Conservation has been taking place within the park since the 1960’s and is maintained by international volunteers throughout the seasons.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-43-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-55-pmHere you’ll find encounters with endangered (and rare white) kiwi, eels, and quite a few beautiful birds including: kokako, kaka, hihi, takahe, kakariki and whio.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-18-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-27-at-9-56-55-amThe kaka particularly captivate me.  The dark wine colours of their feathers paired with their cheeky personalities make them irresistible to watch.  There are roughly 160 kaka in the forest that are all free to travel and are indeed quite wild.  They have an impressive range of calls…some almost gremlin like and others quite sweet.  screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-40-42-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-41-55-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-42-08-pm

If you are near Masterton, I highly recommend checking this place out.  It’s not to be missed!

Sun Orchids & Black Cockatoo

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This is a Scented Sun Orchid.  We found many in the woods today.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.12.32 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.12.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.12.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.11.53 PM I’m not really sure how to identify this species… no idea what it is.  Do you know?

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Going through all my photos and came across this one… From a trip we had last year down south in Margaret River.

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This is a “Bee fly” which I actually mistook for a hummingbird at first!  Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.13.52 PM

This is Mike’s photo!  I just love the colours and the cool calming effect it gives.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.14.04 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.14.19 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.14.30 PM The shaded side of the road (left) was where we found the large number of sun orchids.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.14.43 PM  Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.05 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.12 PM This little one is the “Shy Sun Orchid”  It was much smaller than the other specimen…but had a lovely pale pink hue.Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.21 PM

Horrors of all horror.  We saw this wasp find this massive (4 inch) spider in the bark of a tree.  It paralysed it, waited for it to fall down and then drug it by it’s face across many feet to it’s den (hopefully!).  I was horrified that a spider that big was just in the crack of the tree we were sitting next to.  One minute he was on top of his game, and the next….being drug to a horrible fate.Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.27 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.40 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.50 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.58 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.16.05 PM

This morning we got up really early, and drove into the Perth hills for a bit of a wander.  Mike suggested we try looking at the place we went to a few weeks ago to see if there were anymore orchids.  There were so many out today!  They were small dainty, large and vibrant.  Some were as tall as my waist…

Oddly they pop up in clusters at random, and then are sparse for miles.  They really are extraordinary.

Mike hands down took the best shot today, I really enjoyed watching him take images and helping search out some new flowers for him to take photos of.  It was so nice to see him getting excited and interested about the flowers too.

On the drive back we both exclaimed we weren’t ready to head to the city when we noticed a conservation sign.  It was for black cockatoo particularly.  We swiftly stopped in, and signed up for the next tour.  We found out quickly that this place only opens at random several times a year and we were lucky to have gotten in!  The birds…were beautiful.  They breed and release them in large numbers in the surrounding region.  It was a relief to see Carnaby, Red Tailed black cockatoo and white tails all being well looked after.

Unfortunately, but fortunately for us we were able to experience a few of the tame birds up close…they would fly down on us at random and perch on our shoulders awaiting an almond treat.  We were advised to take our earrings out, and take our rings off…as they can be very cheeky and will crush your jewellery rather easily.

Seeing the colours and their eyes up close was quite thrilling.

Such a good time.

Note – Today I started archiving some photos…and my computer said it needed to update my image library  of 130k images. I gasped in horror when I saw the figure.  In 2.5 years I’ve amassed a ridiculous number of photos.  Redonculous!


Western Flora Caravan Park



We’ve just returned from a wonderfully relaxing and educational weekend near Eneabba, Western Australia.  We stayed at the Western Flora Caravan Park where local legend Allan Tinker has been giving tours and recording flora details for a number of years.  Allan, is very passionate about the local flora, and had been very helpful for me over the past few years when I needed a hand identifying several mystery flower species.

Our accommodation was a very charming, caravan which had a double bed, kitchenette, and came kitted out with fresh towels and linen.

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For our trip, I recently purchased a macro lens to test on the endless variety of wildflowers and orchids with my very new camera the Canon 5D Mark III.  This camera is a dream to shoot with.  The ergonomics and wide viewfinder are very enjoyable to work with.  All of these images were taken with the body and macro lens.Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.14.35 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.14.27 PM

A very dainty rabbit orchid.Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.14.19 PM

Spider Orchid.
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During the daily tour at 4:30pm, Allan teaches the group the various channels through which pollination can take place.  Wind, birds, insects, and mammals… Each flower is designed to attract a specific pollinator.  I cannot even emphasise how informative this session was.  Caravan guests attend for free while non staying guest pay a fee of $28.00.  When the tour is completed you can also opt into joining a large home cooked meal put on by his wife Lorraine.Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.13.52 PM

At the end of the session, Allan selects various flowers and magnifies them in his microscope, which is simultaneously projected onto a screen.  This is an invaluable experience as it enhances the experience by showing you details you’d otherwise miss.  Such as a small insect leeching nutrients from the Geraldton wax, or the delicate fibers that construct a minute petal.Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.13.44 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.13.36 PM

In his closing remarks Allan spoke of the need to educate ourselves with the connection of each plant and it’s place in a vast system of interconnected dependent species.  He touched on the topic of Fracking, and voiced concern over the future of the region.

Each of us is responsible for this planet.

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Mike helped me find a variety of orchids (several of which I’d not yet seen before).  This is a pale cowslip orchid, being one of them.  The season for wildflower enthusiasts is currently in full swing.  I met many men and woman who are in retirement, travelling with their cameras and stories… I felt I have “found my people”.  60-70 somethings who are just MAD for nature, birds, flowers…beauty.  I was truly at home here.  Mike laughed when I told him this in confidence…Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.12.21 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.12.13 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.12.04 PM

A pristine… blue china orchid.Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.11.57 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.11.50 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.11.43 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.11.35 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.11.25 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.11.16 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.11.05 PM

Tessie stayed with us at the park for the first night, however slept in the car, and was kept on a lead the whole time.  Pets are welcome however they must be kept on a lead.Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.10.56 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.10.46 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.10.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 10.10.24 PM

On the way home we stopped at Mount Leseur to see if we could spot the beautiful Queen of Sheba orchid (which I’ve yet to see, but would love to view it just once).  We didn’t have any luck, but we did enjoy the slow easy pace of our journey back to the city, as neither of us was really ready to return.

If you’re interested in travelling north to view the wildflowers, please do head to the Western Flora Caravan Park.

Let’s Stop This Fraccing, Shall We?

Please help us protect Mount Lesueur from a fraccing proposal.  There is not much time left to sign up and petition.

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If you love the photos of the kangaroo’s, wildflowers, birds, insects, sheep, cattle, and beautiful landscapes that I showcase on this blog….then please support the locals and sign this petition.  For many of these delicate, and beautiful things will be in danger.

Fraccing has gained a very negative reputation world wide as a reckless and uncompromising practice.  We’d like to keep it out of Western Australia, where water is absolutely sparse.

Perth people, this is important as the aquifers that supply the city would also be directly affected.  Please share this blog!

The locals would really love your support.

If you want to help, you can find the link here.  I quickly signed up and left my thoughts (you can post your comments anonymously or list your name).  You’ll really will have to sign up quick as this is the last day to leave your comments!


Holly & Mike

Mount Lesueur, Eneabba and Fracking.

Yesterday I convinced my darling to come flower hunting with me at Mount Lesueur National Park.  I know the season has not started yet but the thrill of seeing fresh flowers blooming has given me a bit of flower fever.  Last year over the course of 9 months I spent around 100 hours hiking and sweating, crouching, squinting in the sunlight (perhaps the reason I’m getting wrinkles!) and was able to identify over 500 different types of wildflowers (by eye…not name).

I love this region, I love the diversity….and I could easily get lost chasing bugs, plants, flowers for the rest of my life.  But I am worried that this amazing place might not be protected forever.  Here are some nice photos (from Lesueur and the farm) to take a look at before I dive into the negative topic of fracking.

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There was a time (in the early 80’s) when Mount Lesueur was destined to become a coal mine.  Locals here fought vigilantly against the industry and won!  The park was given a “Class A” title which is the highest level of conservation in Western Australia.

Those locals still reside here, and many are currently worried about the potential dangers to the underground aquifers with the proposed fracking activity.  It is especially worrying because the petroleum and mines department can override any conservation classification.  That’s right, the government can renege it’s promise!

While driving through these mountains (large rolling hills) you are bound to spot kangaroo, emu and of course plenty of stunning wildflowers.  The park is host to the most plant diversity on the planet.  There are 800+ flower species that exist in Mount Lesueur.  As a relative comparison: The British Isles have 1,200 total.

Last year I wrote about the fracking industry and why it concerned me.  This region is a going to be a potential grid of fracking wells.  At the time I signed on to become a part of the newly formed community group P.O.W.E.R Eneabba.  The group of locals dedicated themselves to researching the industry and local geology.  They were invited by a local mining organisation to take a look at a fracking site that was in the operating stages.  I went.  I took photographs at the site and showed these images as a presentation of our findings to other members (I’ve not been allowed to use these photographs in any other way, and so have since deleted them).  I also shot a campaign for the group.  The members also formed questions and received partial (poor) answers from leaders in parliament and the industries.

There are currently two sites located very close to Eneabba. Given the amount of negative press relating to the fracking industry you would think the state government would be keen to keep a very close eye on the industry.  They have been very flippant about the whole ordeal. In fact they are more than happy to continue selling valuable land to develop and test.

P.O.W.E.R Eneabba, Jurien Bay, and Geraldton groups are still working diligently and meeting regularly to take a stand against a very dangerous and reckless industry.  Treasures like Mount Lesueur should remain intact and I for one will be continuing to support those who want to protect the land and water for future generations.

Readers: Does fracking concern you?

Are you a scientist who’s spent time researching water conservation or flora and fauna in the Midwest Region?  Please contact me: redterrain@hotmail.com