Tuatara: Volume 28, Issue 1, August 1985
A Visit to the Auckland Islands — in the Summer of 1962-63…
A Visit to the Auckland Islands
in the Summer of 1962-63
The author's diary and field notes of a biological expedition to the Auckland Islands in the summer of 1962-1963, together with a note on nectar and nectar-feeding birds.
Key words: Auckland Islands flora, Auckland Islands fauna, pollination ecology.
We now have an excellent list of the ferns and flowering plants of the Auckland Islands by Johnson and Campbell (1975), with minor additions and corrections by Given (1978) and Meurk (1982), as well as a valuable list of mosses, including a biogeographical analysis, by Vitt (1979) and lists of fungi, hepatics and lichens by Fineran (1971). With respect to the vegetation the general characteristics were outlined by Cockayne (1909). Further progress awaited more detailed observations at particular places and this was begun with a description of bogs in the north of the island by Moar (1958a), and soils (Leamy and Blakemore, 1960). Later studies cover Enderby and Rose Island (Taylor, 1971), Dundas Island (Falla, Taylor and Black, 1979), and areas around Port Ross (Rudge and Campbell, 1977). There is also an outline of bryophyte ecology by Johnson (1975), and futher information in Vitt (op. cit.).page 2
During the 1962-63 expedition, based at Ranui Cover, Port Ross, I sought more detailed information about the vegetation and flora in the north of the islands, particularly in the higher altitudes to the west. Only a part of this information has been published (Godley, 1965, 1969). It seems to me that the best way to put the remaining information on record is to reproduce my diary and its field notes. This will also convey to the reader more of the “feel” of the island than can be done in a scientific paper; and it will also give information about the expedition additional to the aspects covered by Yaldwyn (1964) and in Yaldwyn (1975). I have brought plant names up to date and added a note on nectar sources.
The membership of the 1962-63 expedition was as follows.
Dominion Museum, Wellington: Dr R. A. Falla (leader and vertebrate zoology) and Mr J. M. Moreland (marine biology and fishes.)
British Museum (Natural History) London: Dr P. W. James (lichenology; on study leave at Botany Dept., University of Otago).
Bishop Museum, Honolulu: Dr J. L. Gressitt and Mr K. A. J. Wise (entomology).
Australian Museum, Sydney: Dr J. C. Yaldwyn (marine biology).
University of Canterbury, Christchurch: Professor G. A. Knox and Mr P. M. Johns (marine and general zoology).
University of Otago, Dunedin: Dr J. B. Wright (geology).
Botany Division, D.S.I.R., Christchurch: Dr E. J. Godley (deputy leader and executive officer) and Dr F. J. F. Fisher (communications officer.)
Entomology Division, D.S.I.R., Christchurch: Mr L. J. Dumbleton.
Wildlife Service, Dept. of Internal Affairs, Wellington: Mr B. D. Bell (ornithology and wild-life management.)
Mr E. Doley of Wellington dealt with maintenance of the huts at Ranui Cove, and Mr D. M. M. Macarthur, Forest Ranger on leave from the Forest Service, Stewart Island, was cook. It was planned to use the Orion, a fishing vessel from Oamaru, to move parties around the coast but this fell through as mentioned below.
21 Dec. (Friday). Reported to H.M.N.Z.S. Endeavour at Lyttelton 9.00a.m. for briefing and bedding issue. Returned to work in afternoon. Returned to Endeavour 9.00p.m. and slept on board.
22 Dec. Waiting at Lyttelton all day. Left 7.00p.m. Stormy weather during night. John Moreland's boat, badly stowed on foredeck, was stove in. Heard just before leaving that the Orion was sheltering at the Nuggets and for various reasons could go no further south.
23 Dec. Proceeding south in quite good weather. Cape pigeons and wandering albatrosses. Permission received to put in to Port Chalmers to find another dinghy for the expedition. Arrived about 7.30p.m. Met by Mr A. J. Black who had been alerted by telegram and who arranged purchase of a 5m dinghy from a Dunedin sea scout troop.
24 Dec. Mr Graham of the Orion arrived early by truck from Oamaru where he had arrived the evening before. He brought George Knox's gear and small outboard. A dinghy was also borrowed from Dunedin Harbour Board. Left 9.30a.m. Sailing south in excellent sunny weather. Cape pigeons and wanderers.
25 Dec. About midnight weather became bad, and slept little because of continual rolling. Carol service at 9.15a.m. Sighted island about 4.00p.m. and anchored outside Ranui Cove at 7.00p.m. Weather improved from midday onward.
26 Dec. Unloading stores in morning. Unpacking, pitching tents, clearing up hut, and settling in. Some collecting round camp. There are ratas in flower.
27 Dec. To Lookout Hill in morning and collecting in “clears” and scrub. The main ground cover in the “clears” is provided by the cushions of Oreobolus pectinatus in which are imbedded Lycopodium ramulosum and Cyathodes empetrifolia.page 3
There are scattered plants of Chionochloa antarctica, Schizaea fistulosa, Drosera stenopetala, Gentiana sp., Astelia subulata, A. linearis, as well as stunted Dracophyllum longifolium, Cassinia vauvilliersii, Metrosideros umbellata, Coprosma foetidissima, Pseudopanax simplex and Myrsine divaricata. In a nearby thicket the ratas are 5-6m tall, with Dracophyllum longifolium, Myrsine divaricata and Hebe odora in the undergrowth. On the ground are Lycopodium varium, Phymatosorus diversifolius, Hymenophyllum multifidum, Corybas rivularis and Gentiana sp.
Pressing specimens in afternoon. When dissecting a sod of Astelia linearis found that for 10 cm down the peat consisted of black wet undecomposed leaves of Oreobulus pectinatus. The Astelia appears to have germinated in the Oreobolus cushion (as so many other species do) and finally overwhelmed it. A party went to Ewing Island, including Fulton Fisher who brought back specimens.
28 Dec. Left at 11.00a.m. with Fulton Fisher for a survey inland. We went from Ranui Cove via Meggs Hill as far as the base of Mt Eden where we camped. Fine weather. Arrived about 6.00p.m. During this time we did not see Bulbinella rossii, Damnamenia vernicosa or any Pleurophyllum species. The land over which we have passed is a mosaic of two distinct combinations of plants—islands or lines of scrub separated by open lanes (“clears”). The predominant plants of scrub are Metrosideros umbellata, Dracophyllum longifolium and Myrsine divaricata. Associated with these are five other shrubs of lesser importance: Coprosma foetidissima, Pseudopanax simplex, Cassinia vauvilliersii and occasionally Coprosma cuneata and Hebe odora. In the “clears” as well as the firmer Oreobolus cushion bogs noted yesterday, there are also wetter cushion bogs which are immediately distinguishable by the fact that Oreobolus decreases considerably and the white lichen Siphula disappears. Other species present and in greater quantity than elsewhere in the “clears” are Phyllachne clavigera, Astelia subulata and Centrolepis ciliata. Also in these bogs are scattered sparse tussocks of Chionochloa antarctica and occasional plants of Cyathodes empetrifolia. A characteristic black moss is dotted about.
It should be possible by lucky choice of lanes to walk from Ranui to Megg without pushing through scrub and to walk quite easily on the hard Oreobolus cushions.
Shrubs noted at the scrub-line (c. 330 m a.s.l.) on the northeasterly face of Eden were: Dracophyllum longifolium (fl), Metrosideros umbellata, Myrsine divaricata (fr), Cassinia vauvilliersii (fl), Coprosma foetidissima, Pseudopanax simplex and occasional Coprosma cuneata. Also present are Chionchloa antarctica, Coprosma pumila (fl), Cyathodes empetrifolia, Lyperanthus antarcticus, Gentiana cerina, Blechnum procerum, B. “latifolia”, Hymenophyllum multifidum and Lycopodium varium.
29 Dec. Mist down over summit of Mt Eden so remained at camp until weather cleared at midday. In afternoon to summit of Eden. Suddenly, as we climbed above the scrub we came upon many of the species that we had been seeking. We entered a New Zealand subantarctic species zone. Below this most of the plants had been mainland species, but now we found Hebe benthamii, Damnamenia vernicosa and Abrotanella spathulata. However not until we reached the extensive rock outcrop which forms the summit of Mt Eden did we at last see Bulbinella rossii, Pleurophyllum hookeri, P. speciosum* and many other subantarctic endemics.
* Not P. criniferum as stated in Godley (1965).
30 Dec. A fine day. Spent morning mapping, collecting and photographing on Mt Eden. Then left for Cloudy Peak which we reached in an hour, noting much pigrooting along the flat tops. Continuing northwards from Cloudy we found the ridge very soggy underfoot, and in the wettest places the Chionochloa disappeared and was replaced by Hierochloe brunonis and Juncus scheuchzerioides. Two small patches of Sphagnum were seen on this ridge. We then struggled down through dense Metrosideros-Dracophyllum-Myrsine scrub to Grey Duck Stream taking about 3 hours to descend c. 300m in altitude. Occasionally Coprosma ciliata occurred and it was possible to walk on this. The easiest progression was in deeper gullies although these had soft mud at the bottom into which we sank. We then waded down Grey Duck Stream which is about 3m wide, overarched by rata and was nowhere deeper than c. 0.5m. Near the mouth of the stream I saw four trees of Fuchsia excorticata all with trunks 35-45cm d.b.h. All were in flower and all hermaphrodite. We came out at the head of Laurie Harbour at 6.30p.m. where we camped on a small delta as the boat which was to have met us had apparently returned to Ranui Cove. Saw a pig eating seaweed on the shore*.
* I saw only 9 pigs (6 adults, 3 young) during my whole time on the island. They extended to the highest tussockland.
The Olearia lyallii stand on Erebus Point has a grey-white interior, with the grey bark, characteristically longitudinally furrowed, the white-green living leaves, and the ground covered by drifts of the grey-white dead leaves and dead branches. The leaves are in terminal tufts and no more than two seasons are represented — this year's white-green and last year's deeper green. The tallest trees were c. 10 m high with d.b.h. of 0.5-0.7 m. They appear shallow rooting and some were seen which had been wind-thrown but had recovered. The living branches are very brittle. Seedlings are abundant, particularly in moss cushions and in light. There were occasional plants of Dracophyllum longifolium growing up within the stand. On the landward side of the Olearia there are two thriving areas of Phormium tenax, one about 5 × 10 m and the other smaller. Flowers were present. About 25 m off-shore in Erebus Cove is a belt of Macrocystis pyrifera, and on the point between Erebus and Terror Coves there is a belt of Durvillea antarctica between the Macrocystis and the shore. Between the two coves Plantago triantha (fl) is abundant on coastal rocks, rooting in crevices. (This species was not seen along the shore between the head of Laurie Harbour and Erebus Point.) Crassula moschata (fl) is also common. On peaty surfaces further back is Ranunculus acaulis (fl, fr), Colobanthus apetalus, and the new Scirpus species (S. praetextatus Edgar.) Some Poa litorosa may hang down from the tops of the peat banks.
The boat arrived about 8p.m. and we returned over calm water to Ranui Cove.
1 Jan. Cleaning up in morning. Pressing specimens in afternoon. Rainy.
2 Jan. Fine sunny day. Went over to Enderby Island and made a rough vegetation map. The first colonisers on drier sand at Sandy Bay are Rumex neglectus, Bellis perennis (fl), and Ranunculus acaulis together forming a close even mat. Also here are Cerastium fontanum ssp triviale, Epilobium brunnescens and Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae. The scrub on Enderby Island is a mosaic of different aged stands. There may be taller stands of rata plus the other shrubs, or almost pure stands of Cassinia. The area of C. vauvilliersii to the north-east of the beach is only up to 0.6m tall and appears to have colonised an Oreobolus bog. Also here is Astelia subulata. Within the shrub areas one comes across open boggy areas, either mainly moss-covered or with almost pure Marchantia, both with occasional cushions of Oreobolus pectinatus. Here we also found Lagenifera pumila (fl.) and Epilobium confertifolium.
In rata forest near the beach the ratas are 6-7 m tall with occasional tall Dracophyllum longifolium, Pseudopanax simplex and Coprosma foetidissima. It is open underneath with scattered Myrsine divaricata. Characteristic of the forest floor is Histiopteris incisa, with Blechnum durum, Polystichum vestitum and Uncinia hookeri occasionally present. I could not find Phymatosorus diversifolius. Seedlings of M. divaricata are abundant. Near the western end of Enderby where the island narrows to only about 350 m there is a “lawn” for about 20 m back from the cliffs made up of the star-shaped rosettes of Plantago triantha, each 2-3 cm across, which are joined further back by the small cushions of Colobanthus muscoides. Also present is Lilaeopsis novaezelandiae and occasional Samolus repens and Crassula moschata. Further inland over the brow from the Plantago is a sward of Agrostis magellanica, Poa breviglumis and Scirpus cernuus with Lagenifera pumila and Epilobium confertifolium scattered about. Beyond this again is a thick growth of Bulbinella rossii with either bare peat between the plants or Plantago triantha and Epilobium confertifolium.page 6
3 Jan. Very rainy and coldish day. Pressing and labelling specimens. Lin Gressitt found Acaena fruits imbedded in feathers of a white-faced storm petrel (Pelagodroma marina) brought back yesterday by Brian Bell from Ocean Island. Fulton notes that Hebe elliptica may form a dark green coastal scrub, as for instance on the northern side of Ocean Island, the coast from Tucker Point westwards into Laurie Harbour, and at the foot of the cliffs at Crozier Point.
4 Jan. Cleared up about 10.00a.m. Studying rata forest etc. in vicinity of camp. Between Ranui Cove and Tucker Point in rock crevices just above M.H.W. grow: Crassula moschata, Plantago triantha, stunted Poa litorosa, Scirpus cernuus, Colobanthus muscoides, Rumex neglectus; and further back Myosotis capitata (fl) and occasional Cotula lanata and C. plumosa. The higher rocks are covered by Poa litorosa tussock, Asplenium obtusatum, Blechnum durum and occasional Carex appressa. Between this and the rata forest is a narrow belt of Dracophyllum longifolium, Hebe elliptica and Cassinia vauvilliersii.
In the forest (Fig. 1) the rata canopy is about 9m high. Note important part played by Pseudopanax simplex. It reaches to about 7m just under the rata canopy and forms small groves in gaps in the rata. Estimates of d.b.h. in a group of 30 trees are as follows. M. umbellata (ft): 1 1/2′ (1), 2′ (3), 2 1/2′ (1), 3′ (3), 3 1/2′ (1); P. simplex (inches): 2″ (1), 3″ (7), 4″ (2), 5″ (3), 9″ (3), 10″ (4). The epiphytes are mainly on the lower horizontal trunks of the rata. The commonest are Phymatosorus diversifolius, Grammitis rigida, and Tmesipteris tannensis as well as seedlings of Dracophyllum and Myrsine. Occasional epiphytes are Hymenophyllum flabellatum, Asplenium obtusatum, and A. scleroprium. In the shrub layer: are colonies of Polystichum vestitum and occasional Blechnum durum. Only one Histiopteris incisa seen. There is a good deal of open ground on the forest floor covered by dead rata leaves and twigs. Here are found Corybas trilobus, Stellaria decipiens and Nertera depressa. In the lower forest further towards Tucker Point Dracophyllum longifolium is an additional canopy tree distinguished by its black sooty trunks and contributing its characteristic litter to the forest floor.
5 Jan. Left 9a.m. with Fulton Fisher, Jack Dumbleton, Peter Johns, John Wright and Keith Wise for Bivouac Hill via Meggs Hill. Mist came down when we were halfway up Eden and continued all day. Could not find the bivouac and slept out.
6 Jan. Rain and wind all day. At midday cooked a meal. Found we were not far from the bivouac which is a high rock cliff sloping outwards. It is on the south side of Bivouac Hill and just below the east of the main ridge. At the base of the cliff the ground is flat, but only wide enough to pitch a two-man tent before it slopes away down to a small stream.
7 Jan. Left for Ranui Cove 9.30a.m. and arrived 6.30p.m. Misty most of way.
8 Jan. Fine day. In afternoon to Rose Island and made a rough vegetation map. The rata forest is lower (5-6m) and more open than Ranui Cove. There are occasional Myrsine divaricata and Dracophyllum longifolium in the canopy, and these two are scattered in the middle layer. Epiphytic growth is poor, with Asplenium obtusatum, Blechnum durum and Dracophyllum seedlings occasionally seen, and Phymatosorus diversifolius and Lycopodium varium seen once. Except for tracks the forest floor is covered with Histiopteris incisa with occasional Uncinia hookeri. Saw some Myrsine seedlings.
Fig. 1 Forest at Ranui Cove showing Metrosideros umbellata with Pseudopanax simplex below. The epiphyte is Phymatosorus diversifolius and on the ground is Polystichum vestitum.
9 Jan. Left at 8a.m. with Lin Gressitt for Bivouac Hill. Mac came along to help carry our gear as far as Mt Eden which we reached at 2p.m. Fulton Fisher and John Wright left Ranui later and we were all at the bivouac by 7.30p.m. Very lucky to have a fine day to get here with stores for about eight days. Slept out.
10 Jan. Mist down when we woke. After breakfast pitched tents and went back to bed. Mist cleared about 2.30p.m. and we collected on the main western ridge between Bivouac Hill and Stony Peak to the south. This windswept saddle is about 500 m a.s.l. and to the west there is a steep slope down to the sea. Just below the saddle on either side the Chionochloa tussock grassland gives way above to scattered shorter tussocks of Marsippospermum gracile. This parallels a change from a peat soil to scoriaceous basaltic rubble with slabs of trachytic dyke material on the ridge. There is about 70% bare ground with erosion common. The predominant low-growing plant is Damnamenia vernicosa, forming mats and the most important soilbinder. Also present are: Plantago aucklandica, Abrotanella spathulata (both frequent), Pleurophyllum hookeri (dotted about), Centrolepis pallida, Ranunculus pinguis, Luzula crinita, Myosotis capitata, Stilbocarpa polaris, Anisotome latifolia, Acaena minor, Coprosma pumila, Carpha alpina, Astelia linearis, Colobanthus hookeri, Uncinia hookeri, Geum parviflorum Montia australasica, Cardamine subcarnosa, Epilobium brunnescens, E. confertifoloum, Schizeilema reniforme, Ranunculus “bivouacensis” (R. subantarcticus Fisher & Hair). Ocasional are Bulbinella rossii, Phyllachne clavigera, Hebe benthamii, and Helichrysum bellidioides. Grammitis poeppigiana grows in mosss or on almost bare rock.
11 Jan. Fine weather. The four of us left Bivouac Hill at 9.30a.m. and after an easy walk south along the western ridge reached the Giants Archway at 4.30p.m. where we camped. On Stony Peak saw one Pleurophyllum speciosum. In the saddle between Stony Peak and Mt Easton (Fig. 2) and on the gentle north slopes of Easton the Marsippospermum almost disappears and Carpha alpina is common with Damnamenia vernicosa and Pleurophyllum hookeri. In the flat cushion-bog on the north side of Mt Easton Centrolepis pallida is the predominant plant with some Phyllachne clavigera. In these grow Ranunculus pinguis, Damnamenia vernicosa, and occasional gentians. The plateau of perhaps 8 hectares surrounding the summit of Mt Easton is predominantly rock, on the surface of which grow small cushions of moss (Campylopus, sp. CHR 1267) and a lichen (Argopsis sp. CHR 1266). Amongst the rocks grow: Pleurophyllum hookeri, Damnamenia vernicosa, Ranunculus pinguis, Centrolepis pallida, Colobanthus hookeri, Phyllachne clavigera, Carpha alpina, Gentiana sp., Coprosma pumila, Anisotome antipoda, Polystichum cystostegia and Hymenophyllum multifidum. There are also areas of brown sticky soil often covered with small scoriacious stones up to 2.5 cm in diameter. Here grow Bulbinella rossii, Helichrysum bellidioides, Chionochloa antarctica and Hierochloe.
This soil continues from Easton to Bleak Hill. In the badly draining Marsippospermum flat about 0.5km north of Bleak Hill grew: Marsippospermum gracile, Hebe benthamii (fl), Damnamenia vernicosa (fl), Myosotis capitata, Anisotome antipoda, Pleurophyllum hookeri, Acaena minor and occasional Bulbinella rossii. Saw a mouse in this association. Two large clumps of Polystichum cystostegia were seen half-way between Easton and Bleak Hill just below the ridge on the east side, and this species was seen again on summit of Bleak Hill. From Bleak Hill to Giants Causeway Rostkovia magellanica seen in abundance in damp mossy places in the tussock.
I was impressed by the amount of Pleurophyllum hookeri on the open tops during page 9 our trip today. Thousands of plants, but only a few in flower. Occasionally P. speciosum was seen but only growing in the shelter of rocks. The leaves were often up to 30 cm across. It was usually in flower, with the ray florets whiter than usual. P. criniferum was not seen. Bulbinella rossii occurs only as scattered plants.
The tops could be classified under four headings.
Rocky fell-field with mineral soils in which erosion is obvious.
Marsippospermum areas seen at their best between Bivouac Hill and Stony Peak, and Mt Easton and Bleak Hill.
Carpha areas as on the north slope of Mt. Easton.
Centrolepis bogs, not very frequent, but seen from a distance as striking deepgreen areas.
12 Jan. When we woke the cloud was thick and visibility down to about 30 m. Winds strong and gusty with rain. Remained in tents all day. Fulton and self in one tent, Lin. and John in the other. Cooking inside on my small Primus. So much for my plan to walk the length of the island along the tops. It would be easy in fine weather.
13 Jan. Very stormy night with rain added to the wind, so that by morning we were all fairly damp in the tents. Returned by compass through heavy mist and high winds to Bivouac Hill.
14 Jan. Still dense mist and rain when we woke. Tent getting a little damp.
15 Jan. Still dense mist and rain. Impossible to do any work. We just lie in the tents and keep as dry and warm as possible. At 1.30 the mist cleared below us and we could see as far as Ranui Cove. But the ridge above remained in fog and in half an hour the weather closed in again. We made a brief trip to the saddle but high winds and fog made progress down the western slopes impossible. Collected some specimens and returned. Cooked dinner in the tent and dried out a little.
16 Jan. Still dense mist and rain. Very frustrating as I want to see the Hooker Hills. At 3.45p.m. the cloud began to clear and by about 4.30 Stony Peak was visible and down to Ranui Cove. In the tussock near the bivouac grow Coprosma ciliata, Hebe benthamii, Polystichum vestitum, Helichrysum bellidioides, Aporostylis bifolia, Corybas trilobus, Astelia linearis (fruit being eaten by pipit), Epilobium pedunculare, E. confertifolium. One Anisotome latifolia seen (on dyke near bivouac).
17 Jan. Fine day. Went with Fulton Fisher along tops to the north. On the summit of Bivouac Hill Marsippospermum is dominant, with Damnamenia vernicosa, Abrotanella spathulata, Ranunculus pinguis, Hebe benthamii, Pleurophyllum hookeri and occasional Phyllachne clavigera. At the head of Grey Duck valley is a scree of flat schist-like rocks in which plants are very uncommon. Of the few seen Bulbinella rossii is the most frequent. Also present are Colobanthus hookeri, Damnamenia vernicosa and Anisotome (sp. not noted). Near the North Harbour Trig there is no Pleurophyllum hookeri in the fell-field. D. vernicosa is most frequent followed by Centrolepis pallida, with Phyllachne clavigera, Carpha alpina, Ranunculus pinguis and gentians dotted about. In mud patches is Juncus scheuchzerioides. In the saddle between the North Harbour Trig and Mt Hooker at about 330 m is the highest area of Oreobolus pectinatus that I have seen in a definite association. Associated with the Oreobolus cushions are Astelia linearis, Carpha alpina and Centrolepis pallida with occasional gentians and very occasional Damnamenia vernicosa. Scattered over the surface are Chionochloa tussocks and stunted Dracophyllum longifolium. Tussock-grassland reaches almost to the summit of Mt Hooker (437 m). At the summit is a small area of rocks with Damnamenia vernicosa. Saw one Pleurophyllum criniferum (fl) on summit in a rock crevice but no P. speciosum seen. P. hookeri on rocks a little lower down to the west.page 10
Fig. 2 Mt Easton from Stony Peak looking southwards. Photo F. J. F. Fisher.
On our return looked at western slopes below Bivouac Saddle. There is Chionochloa grassland all the way down with Coprosma ciliata intermixed with the tussocks and Damnamenia vernicosa. There is very little Bulbinella rossii. In the lower 100-150 m woody plants, relatively low-growing, are more important, particularly rata. There is only a little Dracophyllum, a few patches of Coprosma foetidissima, and Myrsine divaricata is scarce. At the top of the low cliff Hebe elliptica is very common forming large conspicuous dark-green patches. Pseudopanax simplex was not seen. Polystichum vestitum is present. Behind the rocky beach saw Cotula lanata, Crassula moschata, and Scirpus cernuus.
18 Jan. Returned from Bivouac to Ranui Cove.
19 Jan. Packing up.
20 Jan. U.S.S. Durant arrived 9a.m. Loaded, and left at 2p.m.
21 Jan. Arrived Dunedin 2p.m. Met by Ivor Brown with van.
22 Jan. Drove to Christchurch with Fulton Fisher and Ivor Brown.
Nectar and Birds
There are three well-known nectar-feeders on the Auckland Islands: the bell-bird (Anthornis melanura), the tui (Prosthemadera novae-seelandieae) and the white-eye (Zosterops lateralis). Aston notes in November, 1907, that “although bell-birds were numerous on the Island I saw only one tui (at North Arm)” (Godley, 1979). Observations in more recent years show that bell-birds and white-eyes are common on all the bushed islands in the group, whereas tuis are in moderate numbers on Auckland Island but are rare on Adams, Ewing and Enderby Islands (R. H. Taylor, pers. comm.). On the New Zealand mainland Thomson (1927) recorded the red-crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus novae-zelandiae) and the yellow-crowned parakeet (C. auriceps) taking nectar from Phormium tenax. Both parakeets are found on the Auckland Islands.
The main source of nectar appears to be Dracophyllum longifolium and Metrosiderus umbellata which flower in the following sequence.
Autumn and winter flowering can occur in Dracophyllum longifolium as the following flowering specimens show:* 4 April, 1944, Lookout Hill (M. G. Easton); 14 May, 1945, Camp, Musgrave Inlet (M. G. Easton); 31 July, 1943, Lookout Track, Crozier Point (W. H. Dawbin); In late spring (4-13 Nov. 1954) around Port Ross, “this species was in early stages of flowering. Some individual plants were in full flower” (Moar, 1985b); and Waite (1909) who was mainly in the Carnley Harbour area observed bell-birds “feeding largely on the flowers of Dracophyllum” during 16-29 Nov., 1907. Records of summer flowering are: 28 Dec. 1962, at limit of scrub, Mt Eden (E. J. Godley); 6 Jan 1943, near lookout (W. H. Dawbin); Feb., 1945, Danthonia (Chionochloa) meadow above No. 1 Camp (J. F. Findlay).
This important source of nectar is reinforced in summer by Metrosideros umbellata. At Port Ross the rata was only in flower-bud during early Nov. 1954 (Moar, 1958b). It was not mentioned as in flower by J. D. Hooker who was at Port Ross from 20 Nov. to 12 Dec., 1840. Miss B. H. Macmillan tells me that when she visited the islands on Mr A. J. Black's “Acheron” from 4 to 9 Dec. 1983 she saw only three ratas in flower. These were on Rose Island in a sheltered enclave in the centre of bush. At other places in Ross Harbour, or at Tandy Inlet, Waterfall Inlet, and Carnley Harbour, the rata was in flower-bud. On 26 Dec., 1962, I noted ratas in flower at Ranui Cove, and on 11 Jan., 1890 the ratas on Ewing Island “occasionally bore bunches of glorious crimson flowers” (Chapman, 1891.) On Adams Island in the south however, I noted that only a few flowers had appeared by 16 Jan., 1966, and were visited by bell-birds, but that most trees were still in bud. On the east coast flowers were noted at Deep Bay on 1 February, 1943 (W. H. Dawbin). D'Urville's expedition saw the rata in flower between 12-20 Mar., 1840, at Ross Harbour.
* All specimens cited are in CHR.
It is worth noting that the illustrations from D'Urville's voyage are the only published records of autumn flowering on the Auckland Islands. As listed by Cockayne (1909) the species are: Stilbocarpa polaris, Anisotome antipoda, Colobanthys muscoides, Dracphyllum longifolium, Bulbinella rossii, Plurophyllum criniferum, Metrosideros umbellata, Cassinia vauvilliersii and Pseudopanax simplex. Cockayne remarked that “probably some of these were virtually out of flower, and merely bore a late bloom or two”. However in the case of Cassinia vauvilliersii I have seen photographs by Dr C. D. Meurk taken at Enderby Island on 12 April, 1980, and on a peak west of Webling Bay on 9 April, 1980, which show bushes still in flower.
Minor sources of nectar for tui, bell-bird and white-eye would be Fuchsia excorticata and Phormium tenax, both with limited distribution on the Auckland Islands and both seen in flower in late December (this paper). Fuchsia excorticata is only known from the rata forest at the head of Laurie Harbour. Only hermaphrodite plants have so far been found (this paper). If female plants exist the nectar-seeking birds would play an important part in pollinating them. Phormium tenax is only known from scattered introduced populations and could also be visited by the two species of parrot.
The white-eye is also found on Antipodes, and Campbell Islands. In the first island none of the above nectar-producing plants is found, but Dracophyllum longifolium grows on Campbell Island accompanied by D. scoparium. On 2 June, 1944, R. L. Oliver collected D. longifolium in flower in the Tucker Cove Valley. Bailey and Sorensen (1962) record that on Sept. 11, 1960, “both species showing their first flowers”; and on 4 Oct. 1959 “first D. longifoliumin bloom”. They also noted that on 1 Jan. 1943 white-eyes “were obtaining nectar from the Dracophyllum flowers and searching branches and limbs for insects”. Other flowering specimens of D. longifolium are: 13 Nov. 1944, Tucker Cove (R. L. Oliver); 12 Dec. 1947, Tucker Cove Valley (W. B. Brockie); and 6 Jan. 1961, Camp Cove (E. J. Godley). For D. scoparium we have: 3 Dec. 1975, Folly Island (C. D. Meurk); 20 Dec. 1944, South Col ridges (R. L. Oliver); 6 Jan. 1961, Camp cove (E. J. Godley); 10 Feb. 1947, Tucker Cove Valley (W. B. Brockie); 8 March, 1946, Tucker Cove (J. H. Sorensen); May, 1951, hills above Tucker Cove (G. R. Williams).
It seems that on Campbell Island as on the Auckland Islands the Dracophyllum can provide a year-round source of nectar, albeit peaking in the summer.