Topic: Fauna - Rapanui South

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This includes the O’Sullivans’ farm above the beach and the Rapanui Petrel Colony located on the southern side of the Rapanui Stream.







8.10.2003   PHO2008-275


This was my first visit to the Petrel Colony on the O’Sullivan’s farm.  The wind sheared scrub looks out across to Petrel Rock.  (Grey-faced petrel – (Pterodroma macroptera)).



23.10.2003   PHO2008-296-297, 300, 1066, 1073-1075, 1077-1078,


As I made my way towards the petrel colony, I spotted lots of rabbits.  I also heard a skylark (Alauda arvensis), singing.  There were lots of cliff-top sand dunes on the farm as well.  Some of them were fenced off from stock.  There were also some beaten up macrocarpas (Monterey cypress – Cupressus macrocarpa), banksias (Banksia integrifolia subsp. integrifolia), Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla), the odd Monterey pine (Pinus radiata), boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum), coprosmas and pepper trees (Macropiper excelsum).  According to the O’Sullivans, the owner before last had planted the Norfolk pines and the banksias.


I finally managed to scramble down an unstable cliff face that consisted mostly of loose sand and soil to the beach.  Just above the beach, a large Maori Ice plant (Disphyma australe), was showing off its pink flowers.  (The Maori word is Horokaka).  I sometimes call them cushion plants because they are nice and soft.  So much so that terns and gulls prefer them for nesting on, when given a choice.  This cushion plant which is actually a succulent, occupied a naked sand patch that the resident kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum),hadn’t managed to invade.  The high tide area of this small horseshoe type cove (Driftwood Cove) was littered in beached logs.  This is the only place on the Rapanui South Beach where logs can accumulate for any length of time.


The cliffs, like the others on this coastline were clothed in an approximately 15 foot high layer of lush green algae.  This was obviously the splash zone.


Back up top I had a mug of tea and a vegemite cob.  I saw more rabbits, an Australasian harrier (Circus approximans) and listened to a blackbird singing.



26.10.2003   PHO2008-325-326, 331, 336, 344

CLIFF SEQUENCING.  This included the two resident rock stacks, namely, Petrel Rock and the R shaped rock.  Of particular interest was the vegetation growing on them.  Most of the cliff bases had differing degrees of green algae decorating them.  Orange oxidation was also present in some places on the cliffs.  (More commonly known as rust).


At the bluff that separates Pilot Point from Rapanui South Beach, I sent some sprats into a panic as I splashed through the water.



4.11.2003   PHO2008-1096


Photographed a pink flowering ice plant in the vicinity of the Petrel Colony.  The view looked north towards Rapanui North Beach.  By the time I returned to the main entrance (the colony is predator proof fenced); everyone that I had walked in with had left.  As I walked away I heard a young petrel call out.







21.3.2004   PHO2008-760


Just before rounding Petrel Rock, I spotted three separate bunches of tightly matted yellow twine.  Strolling down the beach listening to the chorus cicadas (Amphipsalta zelandica), chirping on the cliffs, I noticed lots of small jellyfish that had been washed up.  There appeared to be two different kinds of jellyfish.  One type, By-The-Wind-Sailor (Velella velella), was brilliant blue in colour and appeared to have a type of semi-hardened shell surrounded by brilliant blue transparent film.  They were about 1.1/2 inches in length.


Just south of Driftwood Cove I photographed a row of macrocarpa trees atop the cliffs.


Returning to the Rapanui Stream, a woman walked down towards the beach.  Her belongings were on some rocks.  A couple of red billed gulls were trying to get at the contents of her sealed lunchbox.



28.3.2004   PHO2008-774-775, 1244


On the cliff top above the boundary that separates Rapanui South Beach from Pilot Point, I photographed looking north along the beach.  Flaxes and rampant bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum var. Esculentum) dominate the foreground.  As I was photographing, a black-backed gull called out.  I also photographed some sheltered coprosmas bathed in evening light.  This contrasted with the wind battered plants that toughed it out a deeply indented cove below that looked south towards Pilot Point.  (Pilot Point is mostly obscured).





25.11.2007   PHO2011-1111, 1117


At the southern end of the beach, a lot of round rocks had been exposed fairly close to the cliffs.  They all lounged in water filled channel.  They had been sand free for some time as some of the rocks had green hats of algae growing on them.  Further north, in particular just north of the R shaped rock, I was once again was taken with the beautiful green algae that adorned the cliffs there.  I heard a blackbird singing on the cliff opposite the R shaped rock and I also saw some black-backed gulls.


As I returned along the beach towards Pilot Point, a man passed me on a 4 wheeler.  He was collecting short wooden planks that had washed up on the beach.







20.4.2008   PHO2011-1220


A vigorous sea state whipped micro-organisms such as algae up into a frothy foam.



31.8.2008   PHO2011-1302, 1307-1308


Although my plan was to photograph Pilot Point, while on the beach, I did some photography on Rapanui South Beach.  PHO2011-1302  shows green algae growing in the splash zone at the base of the cliffs, while PHO2011-1307 and 1308 concentrate on the vegetation growing on the cliff-tops above the beach.



12.11.2008   PHO2011-1371, 1373, 1384


CLIFF SEQUENCING.  Having already observed a lot of plant material at Pilot Point and discovering that they had emanated from a massive cliff collapse on the Three Sisters Beach, I decided to see how far up Rapanui South Beach the vegetation had travelled.  From what I observed, the bulk of the plant material consisted of flaxes, twigs and leaves.  I was amazed to find that the plant debris had travelled up well beyond the R shaped Rock, which was my walking limit.  I presumed it had travelled even further north.  The smaller twigs and leaves at least could even have made it up to Te Kawau Pa.


From this I concluded that flax plants originating from the Three Sisters Beach could quite feasibly reach the Rapanui North dune and under the right conditions, set up shop there.  I know for sure that they can travel that far.  I also know from what I have observed at the Pilot Point dune, that they can survive being in the sea for x amount of time, after which when tossed up ashore, some lucky souls have managed to take root and grow there.

The green algae growing on the cliffs, particularly just north of the R shaped rock, looked particularly lovely in the steamy conditions.  I know I keep commenting on it, but it is so beautiful in this specific spot.  Some Norfolk Island pines also thrive here up on the cliff-tops.







11.8.2010   PHO2011-1826, 1828


Before completing the project proper, I wanted to photograph Rapanui South Beach with the panoramic camera.  Once this was done I would have photographed all of the principal beaches with the panoramic camera, with the exception of Rapanui North Beach.


During my time on the beach, I saw a number of black-backed gulls.  One image I particularly wanted to get was of the beautiful green algae festooning the lower cliffs immediately north of the R shaped rock.  I also photographed a fluted cliff wall that had algae growing on it.  The patterning or fluting was quite distinctive.

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