Topic: Fauna - Te Kawau Pa

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This also includes the coastal bush at Te Puia, (above the large cave) at Te Kawau Pa and the nearby the hills.









At the bottom of a roped access near the Keyhole, a number of bleached logs had taken up residence.  They appeared to be a semi-permanent feature hard up to the cliff in this small cove.  There were also a few black-backed gulls (Larus dominicanus), flying around.  Later on I watched some starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), looking for a safe roost for the night on a scrubby shrub on one of the Chameleon Rocks where the keyhole is located.







8.3.2004   PHO2008-744, 751


CLIFF SEQUENCING.  Down at the bottom of the roped cliff access near the Keyhole, loads of driftwood was lounging about.  After talking to a man who was with his wife, two kids and a dog (Canis sp ? -  In this case, the breed is unknown), I went through the huge cave  and accessed the northern side of Te Kawau Pa.  A substantial stream entered the beach here.  In the vicinity of the stream and north of it, I saw lots of driftwood and tree trunks upended in the sand.  I later discovered that these were the fossilized remains of an ancient drowned forest, much like what I had seen at Twin Creeks.


After this I returned to the Keyhole side of Te Kawau Pa and did my cliff sequencing photography.  This shows the vegetation growing on Lion Rock.  The shrubbery included the ubiquitous flax (Phormium tenex), which seems to thrive everywhere on the coast.  There were also some stunted plants atop the Chameleon Rocks.



21.3.2004   PHO2008-765


To get down to the flat topped fishing platform located at the southern end of Te Kawau Pa, (just past Lion Rock), I had to scramble past wind whipped flax and wiry reeds.  (Believed to be Wi – Juncus pallidus) .  Down at the bottom, I wasn’t impressed by the discarded zig zag roll your own cigarette packet and several other fag packets proper, plus some discarded nylon fishing line.  Dried blood stains, fish scales and a strong fishy odour indicated a recent catch.  Several red-billed gulls (Larus novaehollandiae), flew around in the forlorn hope of some fish titbits from me.

The photo shown here however was taken from where I photograph the Keyhole.  It shows a wind blasted coprosma (Coprosma repens), plus the scrubby shrubs atop Lion Rock.  It is interesting to note that on this, the north/western face of Lion Rock, most of the vegetation has slipped away.  I later determined that this was most probably due to the heaviest rain events mostly originate from this direction.



16.8.2004   PHO2008-1346, 1349


Tough as nails flaxes and toetoes (Cortaderia toetoe), are ideally suited to the harsh conditions experienced on the cliffs at Tongaporutu.  The photos shown here are looking down on the Chameleon Rocks.  Lion Rock is visible in PHO2008-1349.







17.7.2006   PHO2008-815, 1949


As I walked across the paddock that overlooks the Keyhole, a rabbit (Oryctalogus cuniculus) bolted.  It was no more than two feet away from me.  I don’t know who ‘jumped’ more, it or me.


After I had photographed the Keyhole, I left the camera on the tripod and went closer to the flax bush on the cliff edge.  This gave a splendid view over Lion Rock and the Sphinx.  As I neared the flax plant, I noticed something pushed up against a bank of reedy grass.  A dead Romney sheep!  (Ovis aries).  It had obviously been there for some time as the carcass mostly consisted of just the fleece with some rib bones that were visible.  Bum, I thought.  Not quite what you expect to see in a beautiful landscape; a dead sheep.  Further, the bloody sheep was in the best possible spot to bugger up the picture!


This forced me to scout further afield for a better vantage point.  That turned out to be just above the fishing platform located south of Lion Rock and the Sphinx.  A couple of black-backed gulls were parked up on the fishing platform.  Ultimately I got some great shots with flax plants in the foreground.







28.10.2007   PHO2011-1091, 1097


On the beach there was the odd big log loafing about, plus a lot of small twigs and stuff.  Just before arriving at Lion Rock I spotted a large opaque coloured tray that appeared to have been lost from a fishing trawler.  It had some writing on it which said:  “Stolen from ...”  I forgot the name but it was similar in length to Sanfords and it started with an S.  It looked like there was some other writing, but that was smaller and illegible.  Quite a few bush flies (Diptera spp ?), were buzzing around.


Near the Chameleon Rocks I saw a large orange peel and some bits of plastic on the beach.  There seems to be more rubbish coming ashore lately, or am I just noticing it more?  Shortly afterwards, I photographed a pool to the rear of Lion Rock.  The view looked towards the Sphinx.  Debris littered the pool and there was also a trawler’s fishing float at the pool’s edge.  The amount of rubbish pollution they cause is disgusting.  Yesterday at Twin Creeks I saw more of that canvas type strapping/whatever, that I had seen on Beach One on the 12th September and Beach Two on the 27th September.  This particular piece/pieces of rubbish from a single source covered a very large area.  It simply isn’t good enough.


Lastly, before the sun went to bed, after I had finished on the beach, I clambered down to just above the fishing platform and photographed looking north towards Lion Rock.  Flaxes and other vegetation are shown on the cliff face and Lion Rock.  I also saw some black-backed gulls.







23.1.2008   PHO2011-1154


This summer has been very hot and dry thanks to La Nina.  However, the flaxes and other hardy shrubs on Lion Rock and leading towards the fishing platform, shrugged off the conditions.  I also saw some black-backed gulls flying around and calling.  One was perched atop the Sphinx and another was set to land close by.


In the vicinity of the Keyhole and the roped access to the beach, driftwood was scattered about.



20.4.2008   PHO2011-1214


The first thing I noticed was a dead sheep close to the Keyhole, which I didn’t photograph!  I only took one photo and that was of Lion Rock.  It gives a good view of the vegetation on the northern side of the rock stack.  In particular, a flowering toetoe near the top.



20.7.2008   PHO2011-1245-1246


SUPER-STORM EVENT.  Super-Storm One.  The coastal vegetation was toughing it out under extreme conditions.



15.12.2008   PHO2011-1482, 1484-1486

Atop Te Kawau Pa just north of the Chameleon Rocks, there is a lovely area of coastal native bush.  While there I was pleasantly surprised by the seemingly healthy bird population.  Some of the birds I could identify were:  blackbirds (Turdus merula),  song thrushes (Turdus philomelos), silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis), New Zealand pipits (Anthus novaeseelandiae),  starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), yellowhammers (Emberiza citrinella), and some bird I couldn’t identify.  The reason I was surprised at finding so many birds, was because they are usually heavily predated by cats (Felis catus), stoats (Mustela erminea) weasels (Mustela nivalis), and possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), etc.  The variety of native shrubs has also obviously helped.  However, there must be another reason as the bush at White Cliffs in particular is mostly silent of birdsong.


One explanation could be timing.  Some of the birds could be transitory in that they are drawn by food being abundant for only a short window of time.  When that food source has finished, then they leave.


At Te Kawau Pa there are two fishing spots atop the cliffs.  One is a large, flat platform situated just south of Lion Rock.  The second one is located here.  It is a much smaller ledge.  Anyway, just before going down for a look-see, I saw a young blackbird perched on a flax flower spike.  Down at the fishing ledge, as with the other fishing spots, there was rubbish as usual.  A discarded towel, some cardboard and a dislodged fishing rod holder.  Plants present included flax and southern salt-horn, (Salicornia australis).  White fronted terns (Sterna striata), appeared to be nesting on the outmost Chameleon Rock, but not the inner ones.  A black backed gull was resting on the innermost one.


After this I accessed the track that led down to the beach on the northern side of the Te Kawau Pa cave.  As I walked along the land facing cliff side of the river that flows onto the beach, a rabbit leaped into the sea.  (At high tide, the sea comes in over the top of the out flowing river at this point).  I’ve never seen a rabbit swim before, let alone in the sea.  It clambered up onto a rock and sat there a while after it realized that I wasn’t a threat to it.







12.1.2009   PHO2011-1524, 1536, 1538, 1541-1542, 1555


CLIFF SEQUENCING.  As I walked along the beach to my start off point at the southern end of the beach, I saw a few black backed gulls flying around.  At Lion Rock I was able to get some good images that showed the vegetation growing on it.


Shortly afterwards I went up to the cliff near the Keyhole that has a roped access to the beach.  As well as the usual logs loafing at the bottom of this particular cliff, I saw a dead goat (Capra aegagrus hircus).  It still had one very large horn on it and it also had long brown and black hair around its shoulder area.  I presumed it was a male animal and wondered if it was wild.  It didn’t pong, but that was probably because I wasn’t in the stink zone;  i.e. the windward side.

As I continued with the photography, I saw some large blue mussels (Mytilinea mytilus edulis), thriving on some of the undersides of the outer parts of the Chameleon Rocks.


The beach on the northern side of the Te Kawau Pa cave has some large reefs and rock platforms that support mussell colonies of varying sizes.  Fossilized tree remains are also located here.  Beyond this rock cove, the beach becomes more open and treks north to Mokau and beyond.





I had brought Adam Buckle’s panoramic camera up for a test drive.  (Unfortunately, I later discovered that they were all under-exposed.)  I managed to get a shot looking across to Lion Rock that showed much of the coastal vegetation of flaxes and toetoe.  While there I spotted a few black backed gulls flying around.  They were probably attracted by the fishermen down on the fishing platform.


On the fishing platform proper, which is an arsehole to get down to, they had caught two nice kahawai, (Arripis trutta), and a gurnard (Onichthys spinosus).  A couple of red billed gulls were also on the fishing platform.  They were looking for bait scraps.



25.5.2009   PHO2011-1594


Due to the overcast conditions, the flax plants and toetoe showed up well, as did Lion Rock, in the only photo I took here this day.



3.6.2009   PHO2011-1764


When I first photographed here with the panoramic camera, all of the images were under-exposed due to my ignorance of the filter factor.  Before heading down to the Fishing Platform, I stopped off to photograph looking across towards Lion Rock.  The flax bushes looked good.


Down on the Platform there was a lot of discarded fishing line and fish scales.  There was also the odd booze can and beer bottle parked in the bushes.  Disgusting.





At Te Kawau Pa I wanted to take a series of images of the cliffs looking towards the Sphinx with the digital camera.  These would then be stitched together to produce the image I had long seen in my mind, but had been impossible to capture in one photo.  The end result is shown in Section Four on Cliffs.


While at Te Kawau Pa I saw a couple of black backed gulls on one of the cliff promontories.





28.2.2010   PHO2011-1777, 1783, 1785-1786,


As well as documenting the southern part of Te Kawau Pa where Lion Rock is situated, I wanted to photograph the beach located north of the rocky cove as I haven’t been there before.


My first port of call was the cliff top above the Keyhole.  The beach level was exceptionally high to landward and where the roped access is to the beach, there was a substantial mini-lake.  The usual flotilla of logs was also present at the base of the cliff.


On the northern side of the cave that leads through to the rocky cove, some of the fossilized trees there wore hats of mussel spat.  The substantial rock platforms and reefs located here had good populations of mussels of various sizes.  These outcrops were also home to orange sponges (Polymastia spp), starfish (Asteroidea spp), sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca), as well as the usual limpets (Patella spp and Cellama spp), and acorn barnacles (Semibalanus balanoides chthamalus).


On the northern long stretch of beach, I particularly admired the green algae (Enteromorpha spp), that thrived on the wave splashed cliffs, caves and hills to landward.


I finished photographing for the day in the vicinity of Lion Rock.  While there I saw a lone shag (Phalacrocorax spp ?), atop one of the Chameleon Rocks.  I also saw some black backed gulls.

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