Thursday, December 31, 2009

The last walk of 2009

It has been a rather peculiar summer season so far, with alternating warm and cool spells. The Christmas break has been a good example with very warm days (over 26C on both Christmas and Boxing days) but then cloud and a front for the following days.

I have been itching to get up Mount Holdsworth, the 5280 foot mountain that looks over our valley. This morning I got up early and was on the road at about 6.30. I was astonished to see the tops were sprinkled with snow, and had to go back to the house and get extra clothing.

It was a great walk!

It was cool all the way up, and once I was above the tree line, after about two hours, I met up with some snow and a cold wind. I made it to the summit, then slowly came down, photographing as I went, including this view from the trig looking north.

This Pterostylis species that lives just below the bushline was nearing the end of its flowering, as evidenced by the reddish hue at the top. This is a cute little terrestrial orchid, perhaps 20 cm high and about 3 cm across.

Just below the summit I found some Bulbinella in flower in the snow.  They looked fabulous.

Further down I found some more Bulbinella, growing in the snow grass.

There was also plenty of Eeidelweiss in flower, the North Island species, Leucogenes leontopodium...

and the very pretty eyebright, Euphrasia cuneata.

Once I was on my way down past the bushline I put the camera away until crossing the Pig Flats bog when I noticed a solitary flower on a Caladenia.  These orchid flowers are tiny - only about 40 mm across - but they are great.

When I got home I showered and then lay in the backyard with my geneticist son, who is home from his PhD studies.  Although Polynesian landsnails are the vehicle he has chosen to investigate his questions about speciation, he is also interested in spiders.  We were amused to find five different species on one large perennial Anemone in the garden.
I made a comment about the hidden insect/beetle/bug life occuring all around us that we know nothing about - a throwaway line - and came inside to process my photographs from the walk. I had taken another photograph of another Bulbinella, as it was flowering through the spikes of an Aciphylla species. I do not take my glasses when climbing so the photography is sometimes a little hit and miss - so you can imagine my delight to find this, with all the weevils and beetles on board! 

Click on any of the photographs for a higher resolution view.