Western Australian Spiders

Here is an assortment of spiders that I’ve managed to photograph of the past couple of years from Perth, to Coorow and Warradarge.  They come in all shapes and colours…  Stay tuned I’ve got some exciting news about spiders to share with you in my next post.

Robert Whyte, author of the field guide “Spiders of Australia” has kindly helped me identify these beautiful spiders.  From top to bottom:

  • Lycosidae A Wolf Spider
  • Sandalodes scopifer
  • Thomisidae Tmarus sp.
  • Araneidae Araneinae Araneus arenaceus relative
  • Thomisidae Zygometis xanthogaster
  • Thomisidae Stephanopis ornata or close relative
  • Salticidae Apricia jovialis female

The comprehensive field guide he wrote has been incredibly useful, and comes with very clear images of each spider and categorises them in a straightforward and practical manner.  I imagine even people with spider phobias would enjoy the maratus jumping spider section!  If you’re looking for a copy take a peek at it here.

The Fern Walk – Tōtara Forest Reserve

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Wesley was in daycare today so I took the opportunity to drive up to the Pohongina and spend some time in the forest peering at fungus and listening to the birds whilst carefully plodding through thick goopy mud.  Within minutes my feet were soaked, normally that would bother me, but today I embraced the icy water on my toes…  It was really fresh and crisp under the shade of the trees, and the chill really invigorated me.

I came home a few hours later feeling much better.  It was exhilarating; exploring, looking to find the gorgeous colourful fungus growing on the ground, consuming the dead bark, and the fallen leaves.  I also noticed a few birds, some tui and fan tails were flitting around taking a peek at me, as I peeked at them.

A man was also fly fishing in the Pohangina river – and I thought of Mike coming out to the same spot in search of trout… Simply put, he is deeply missed around these parts and we are so looking forward to reuniting with him.  We may know in the next week!

Long distance has been challenging, so thankfully there is the forest to help me regroup and prepare for the next few weeks.

Below details a short story taken from the Papatoetoe Central Schools website about the Māori connection to the tōtara tree…  Read on!

The Totara in Maori Legend – Rata and the Tree

Rata was in the forest wandering about wondering what to do about retrieving the body of his father who had recently died when he decided he would chop down a tree and build a waka.

He selected a Totara, felled it, and went home planning to return in the morning to begin building the waka. When he did return he found the tree wasnt lying on the ground as he’d left it but standing as if it had never been felled.

He chopped the tree down again this time trimming the trunk and removing the bark and and went home with the same result when he returned the next day.

He chopped the tree down a third time, this time trimming and shaping the tree and scooping out the inside and decided to sneak back during the night to see what was happening

When he approached the tree in the dark he saw to his amazement that birds and insects were reassembling the tree to return it to its original state.

Rata apologised for chopping down the Totara and explained why he was doing so (to retrieve his Father), then offered to help lift the Totara back into place.

When dawn came Rata was ll alone, the little creatures had gone, and the Totara was back in its original state. Rata vowed to never chop down another tree, and a voice near him told him that he may, but he must ask permission from Tane Mahuta first.

As Rata returned home he came across a mighty war canoe sitting on logs in the forest, and he asked if it was his, and the voice said “yes, Rata’s waka”

Spring has…exploded!

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Yesterday, little Mr. and I headed to great grandmas for some gardening.  There was a weedy patch that I cracked into for a while.  At the end we gathered some insanely colourful flowers for a bouquet and I thought they were beautiful enough for a photo…and then it struck me that something else might make them even more beautiful… haha.

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The colours erupting from the trees and earth this spring have been pretty spectacular.

Our little herb patch has nearly tripled in volume in the warmer weather, and I can only guess how many lbs of parsley I’ve had over the past few months.  It’s cranking out produce.  We are so thankful for the bounty this little space has already provided us, and hopefully when the flowers turn to seed shortly, I’ll be able to save a few and plant even more.  Fingers crossed the large garden beds are up and ready soon so we can also enjoy some home grown veggies.

Do you keep a veggie patch/herb garden?  Which types are your favourite to grow?

We’ve had a few spring visitors which include all the local dogs (thank god Tess is fixed!) and some hungry sheep with their wee lamb in tow.  Many of the paddocks around Palmerston are full to the brim of fat little lamb and calves.

The orchard facing our house was a mass of white and pink flowers a few weeks back – and looked absolutely stunning particularly in the later hours of the day when the soft sunlight shone from behind lighting everything in a really nice golden hue.

Anyway that’s me rambling on about how gorgeous it is here in New Zealand right now!

Till next time…

x

Holly

Whitebait Fishing in New Zealand

What is white baiting?  It’s a national fishing season that I’ve only ever come across in New Zealand.  Though I’ve read today that it can also be done in Italy, the UK and China…

I’d heard of whitebait fishing from a few friends and family over the years before we moved to New Zealand.  They talked of streams, incoming tides and millions of small clear juvenile fish that get tossed into fluffy fritters.  It sounded like a relaxing, rewarding and delicious time to be had.  Mike had never been out to catch whitebait before so, we were both going to experience something a little exotic.

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Here is Mike eating the ceremonious first catch raw…

The past two weekends we’ve headed to the ocean to try our hand at it and hopefully taste a little fritter as a reward of our efforts.  First up was Foxton beach, but it was too late in the day to properly give it a go – so we did a little beach walk and people watched instead.

Yesterday we found ourselves in a quaint little town called Waikanae about 40 minutes North of Wellington on the coast.  Waikanae translates to “waters of the yellow eyed mullet” from Māori.  It sits on a backdrop of ranges that have been partially cleared for farming and residential spaces.  I was so stoked to see there was plenty of native bush around, and hope to head back one day to have a hike and see what’s beneath the canopy (I’m talking wildflowers!).  The town itself is quite beautiful, and I exclaimed a few times that I’d be happy to live in a little place like it.

We met up with some friends from Wellington who had already prepared some nets and were in the thick of fishing by 10am.  They had pulled about two handfuls of whitebait from the frothy ocean already, and we were all glad to have made the journey.  Mike jumped in straight away and added another 36 little fish to the harvest.

He was so thrilled to have pulled some from his nets, it was a joy watching him.  I’d not properly dressed but got soaked within minutes.  Wes also enjoyed the view from under a rain cover and seemed to be content in the fresh ocean air.

Most people eat the whitebait scrambled with some eggs and a little salt and pepper as light fritters.  That’s how we tried them…and honestly they were really nice.

The season runs from September to November, and we already are addicted to the thrill of fishing – and I know we’ll be back out again this year.  It really was relaxing and such a great way to spend time out on the ocean.

Nelson and Motueka, New Zealand

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.57.47 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.53.34 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.56.49 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.56.33 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.56.19 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.56.09 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.58.18 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.54.00 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.57.01 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.53.54 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.53.46 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.53.22 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.53.07 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.52.31 PMThe last time we took a ferry to the South Island, the boat pitched and rolled and I nearly threw up (it is a 3.5 hour journey).  It was with some trepidation that I boarded the boat this past Monday.

This time however the water was absolutely silky smooth.

Upon landing on the South Island, we quickly left Picton to start the drive toward Nelson. The terrain is heavy and thick with forest both native and man made (pine) and the valley is dotted with many boutique and industrial sized wineries.

We nearly immediately caught up with Mike’s cousin Matt and made our way to, Granddad Pete and Dee’s place in Motueka.  The guys were keen to get some gold pans into some local rivers and quickly concocted a plan to strike it rich panning for gold.  Shoddy engineering of a sleuths box ensued for nearly half a day…  That first evening we drove back to Nelson to meet with Mike’s other cousin Sarah and her husband Derek for a great meal at the Vic Brew Bar.

The following morning we rose early and had coffee and a catch up with Mike’s granddad before we set off to gather some gold pans and get our feet wet in the crisp waters near Brown Hut.

The drive was winding and bumpy as we traversed to the preferred river.  The guys were very enthusiastic and of course I had my camera with me to keep myself entertained (not that I didn’t pick up a pan and give it a go myself).

We were at it for about an hour before we all began to lose our minds against the plague of sand flies that were virtually eating us alive.  Matt had been cursing for a time before I got close to him and discovered he was covered in enormous welts.  His skin reacted very badly to eat little bite.

He and I both called it a day, and Mike spent another 30 mins at another section of the river searching for that yellow treasure.  I followed along and stayed from the water at a great distance hoping that would keep the flies at bay…sadly where I was, the plague was thickest!

We all returned home fruitless, however rich in memories and equally traumatised by the onslaught of horror that even a day later has kept a few of us up trying our best not to scratch the skin off our arms and feet.

Today Mike and I enjoyed a short hike at The Riwaka Resurgence, which enabled us to view this stunning endangered (and quite shy) native blue duck.  They are only found in New Zealand and are sometimes called a whio (pronounced “fee-oh”) which is the sound the males make to entice mates.

We also went to Kaiteriteri where Mike went for a quick swim in the crisp ocean, and I sat and people watched from the shore, whilst digging my toes into the golden sand.

Mike’s granddad and his partner Dee have been hosting us with a smorgasbord of BBQ delights, pastas, ice creams, home preserved fruits and produce and have sent us off to bed each evening completely stuffed and contented.  I’ll have to write about the amazing food and produce we’ve been eating at some point…it’s incredible how fresh and flavoursome the regions food is.

We’ve been enjoying the late night chats and the cheeky banter over the past several nights, and will be sad to leave tomorrow morning.

Apparently the West Coast (of which we’ll be camping over the next 3-4 days) is notorious for sandflies and so I will be mentally preparing for the next epic battle before we sleep tonight.

We’ll write again soon, and hopefully we’ll still be in one piece.

xo

Holly and Mike