This stick insect appeared in our back porch a few days ago, probably forsaking the raspberry canes around the entrance as they loose their leaves. It's body is about three inches long and it is a native species. I have never seen them on trees or shrubs, so can't be sure if they are truly native to this area, or the offspring of some babies I released about ten years ago. They apparently like the rosaceous plants even though the rose family is not endemic to New Zealand. The trap, it seems, in having taken to an introduced plant species, is dealing with the deciduous nature of roses, raspberries, brambles et al. Come leaf-fall, they have to leave home and look for winter shelter elsewhere.
I had another go at photographing the bellbird. His shape makes a nice silhouette and his wing flashes are just visible in this photo. The bellbird seems like the fantail and tui, to have adapted well to modern gardens. They enjoy feeding on the flowers of the introduced eucalyptus, garden clematis, and ripe orchard fruits. And as I mentioned in my previous post, non-spider-proofed weather boards harbour a rich winter food source.
These cats: they are not the best of friends, so this was a rare recent shot of acceptance if not companionship. They are both hunters. They hunt in this garden mercilessly. Aelfy, the black cat, is a mouser, which is a blessing. But he also catches skinks, ground-feeding birds and fledglings. Catkin, the tabby, who spent his first year fending for himself in the wild, is a big game hunter, though he seems less inclined to bring down hares, rabbits and poultry now that he has been neutered. Somehow the bird population, continues to thrive in this garden of mainly introduced species. What I see is that the birds' strength is the scruffy places, the untrimmed, untamed, overgrown spinneys. Introduced gorse and hawthorn provided dense prickly havens, unappealing to cats, while the native pohuehue vine - which I curse endlessly - provides an impenetrable cat puzzle and good nesting sites. Untidy weedy overgrowth and old seed stems - that the good gardener learns to trim away - are full of insect life: good for the birds and bio-diversity in general. The lizards get half a chance in a weed bank too.
With recent controversy over the place of cats in New Zealand, we could maybe give equal thought to how our human inclinations - affect the birds.
Gorse Ulex europeaus
Hawthorn Crataegus spp
Pohuehue, muehlenbeckia Muehelenbeckia australis