Topic: Fauna - White Cliffs
This includes the beautiful coastal forest on the northern side of White Cliffs and White Cliffs proper. It extends northwards towards Twin Creeks, being opposite the Top Paddock part of Twin Creeks. The Stock Tunnel and the Gibbs’ Top Paddock are also featured due to overlapping.
19.11.2003 PHO2008-406, 1105-1108, 1110
Between Twin Creeks and up to and beyond the Stock Tunnel, the hills are clothed in beautiful native bush. Some of the trees, particularly the puriris, were wind sheared, but not too badly. The bush consisted of tree ferns, puriri, rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum), nikaus, rewarewa (Knightia excelsa) , white rata (Metrosideros perforata),, supplejack (Ripogonum scandens) and other trees and shrubs that went to make up this coastal forest. Gorse (Ulex europaeus), too was present. Where wasn’t it present? No pohutukawas were observed. On the cliff faces, toetoe, flaxes and other tough shrubby low growing plants dominated.
I heard very little in the way of birdsong. I did hear blackbirds and fantails. I also saw some kereru and a couple of tuis. Later on, I saw and heard a largish heron flying over the top paddock. I think the heron was white. It seemed slightly larger than the white-faced heron. Perhaps it was a little egret (Egretta sp?). I can’t be sure which, or indeed if it was either of these. I also saw a New Zealand falcon (not a harrier hawk which is larger).
At the Stock Tunnel I noticed some cat poo. Cats, stoats, possums and rats were obviously the reason why there appeared to be so few birds present in the bush.
There were some black-backed gulls circling the cliff-tops.
On the way back towards the locked gate above Beach One, I saw a number of rabbits.
9.12.2003 PHO2008-461, 465, 1149-1153, 1156
The track that led to the Stock Tunnel was muddy due to recent rain. The flies were incessant due to the muggy heat. From the bush I heard the ringing song of a nearby bellbird. Such was the quiet, I could even hear its rival in the distance. I photographed some nikau palms that had clusters of bright red berries on them. Due to the overcast and wet conditions, the bush glowed in the wet light.
On the downside I saw more cat poo. Feral cats are a disaster in the bush.
8.2.2004 PHO2008-674, 1211
CLIFF SEQUENCING. As I walked across the ankle cracking rocks that filled a substantial boulder field, I saw lots of starfish in the pools and little crabs scurrying across the rocks. Both photos show some of the vegetation that grows on the more hospitable parts of White Cliffs. However, PHO2008-674 also shows some of round rocks at the low tide mark with mussels on them.
SUPER-STORM EVENT. Super-Storm Three. While walking along the track towards the Stock Tunnel, I saw a tabby coloured kitten curled up asleep in the sun. I approached to within four feet, and then cursed having my noisy plastic shopping bag over my camera. As I tried to remove it, the kitten woke up, turned around (its back was facing me), looked at me for a second or two, then disappeared into the undergrowth. I will never forget that look. Not one of fear, more of frozen, unblinking surprise.
Up on the Top Paddock I could barely stand up such was the force of the wind while trying to photograph from the cliff-top. Toetoe and flaxes have seen it all before.
Although I didn’t access the beach below White Cliffs, I took a photo from the Top Paddock. This shows some of the bush and vegetation that scrape a living on the cliffs. In the bush I heard a solitary blackbird singing. I also saw lots of yellowhammers and some pipits. These weren’t in the bush, preferring the open grasslands.
This panoramic photo illustrates the beautiful White Cliffs coastal forest. Walking towards the stock tunnel, I was struck again by the overall sound of silence. The only bird I heard was a solitary bellbird. Up in the Top Paddock there were loads of happy crickets and grasshoppers, all relishing the quite dry conditions.
From the Top Paddock I documented some of the beautiful White Cliffs bush. Unfortunately, the only bird I heard was a lone blackbird.
29.4.2010 PHO2011-1747, 1749, 1754
I had wanted to photograph White Cliffs from beach level for some considerable time. Today, the weather and tide came together nicely. Walking past the bush towards the stock tunnel, aside from a lone fantail, the bush was silent of sound. So sad that most of the birdlife here has all but been eliminated due to predators.
On the beach, I trekked over the extensive boulder field until close to the wave-line. Starfish, crabs, shrimps (Rock pool shrimp – Caprella spp?), anemones (Actiniidae Isactinia olivacea), cats eyes (Lunella smaragdus sessilia) and seaweed inhabited the pools that were present. The round rocks also had their own micro fauna and flora on them by way of limpets, mussels and dark, short seaweed.
On the face of White Cliffs, toetoe and grass clumps predominated. Specifically, they colonised the soil mounds that had accumulated on prominent outcrops.
When I’d finished, I returned to the stock tunnel. Just before I arrived there, I spotted a black beetle (Tutaeruru beetle - Costelytra zealandica) crawling up the beach. I knew it would never make it as it was too slow. It was also getting clogged up with sand. I rescued it and placed it near the stock tunnel on some grass.