Birds of the Water Wood & Waste
Tutira is situated in the northern portion of Hawke's Bay, and in most maps of the Dominion the lake, some miles in length, may be seen marked as a tiny speck some distance inland, and about midway between Napier and Wairoa. Certainly there is no better run in Hawke's Bay, and probably no sheep station in New Zealand has at this date its natural advantages of barren and waste land.
East of the lake, and running north and south, extends a range of limestone formation, with great spurs branching off at right angles, and stretching towards the sea.
The hill slopes of this part of the run page 2 are exceedingly steep, and the several tiers of ancient ocean floor very conspicuous.
On the extreme west, and also running north and south, rises the Maungahararu, another and a loftier limestone range.
Betwixt these two — the mountains on the west and the hills on the east—lies the bulk of the run, lower in elevation and chiefly consisting of valley lands and tilted terraces.
The whole of this great trough has the rounded contours characteristic of pumiceous country, and has been probably the bed of some vast old world river system or great chain of almost stagnant lakes.
The limestone range east of the lake at one time grew admirable covert of all sorts, dense fern, high tutu, koromiko, and a considerable area of “whitey - wood” bush, kowhai, fuchsia, rama rama, ngaio, kaiwhiria, etc., etc., with pines in the richer and damper bottoms, and bird life was then abundant.
Its value, however, during the last score of years has much depreciated; fires have swept the hill sides, grasses and clovers have become established, and except for the grazing of sheep, large areas have become page 3 almost worthless. Even here, however, the destruction has not been complete; still on the cliffs and alongside the “under-runners” grow many berry-bearing trees, and the flats along the lake edge, too, are distinctly useful.
They may in these days indeed be accounted assets of no inconsiderable value, inasmuch as they are too nearly at lake level to admit of proper drainage and ploughing, and their growth of carex, “cutty-grass” and raupo provide excellent harbourage for the smaller rails and other interesting species.
The great pumiceous region extending over the centre or trough of the run has not yet — though scrub - cutting and ploughing are in progress — been seriously affected.
Everywhere over these lower lands, the subsoil is a soft clay rock, and throughout this portion of the run ramify a network of creeks. These begin as mere narrow bottomless bogs; as, however, they increase in water volume and establish a scour, the sharp pumice grit quickly wears through the soft rock beneath, and the quagmire deepens into a gorge. With these ad- page 4 vantages, this part of the run is almost ideal cattle country, for the beasts that don't break their necks reaching for scrub on the cliffs, mostly bog themselves in search of the rough grasses grown on the quagmires.
No runholder who wishes to get the utmost out of his property should own cattle. The damage they do is enormous, spreading grasses everywhere, opening up the rough corners of paddocks, and smashing down the smaller species of scrub so necessary for covert for birds.
On the far west Tutira reaches to nearly 3,500 feet above sea level, and the upper slopes and tops are covered with valuable woods — timber impossible to get out for milling purposes, and which, even if felled, could not be got to carry a fire. The soil is indifferent, the climate humid, and in the natural forest clearings wineberry at once springs up. These range tops, perhaps, may be reckoned as my best country, for they are well stocked and carry a good head of rare native species. They are, moreover, for long likely to remain intact and unspoiled.
The photographs shown were taken page 5 throughout the seasons of 1908 and 1909. During the latter I had Mr. J. C. McLean as assistant for several months, and have to thank him for help, both in the dark room and field.
All the prints from which the blocks have been prepared were done from my negatives by Mr. G. F. Green. I have therefore the satisfaction of knowing that the utmost has been got out of often very indifferent material. I have also to thank Mr. Green for the friendly interest taken in the preparation of this little volume, and to acknowledge many suggestions in regard to its outward form and appearance.
I am obliged to Mr. Frank Stopford for having carefully gone over the proof sheets.
Finally, one word in regard to the illustrations themselves.
Many of them, I am perfectly well aware, are unsatisfactory. I have, nevertheless, thought them worth producing, not for themselves, but as illustrative of some interesting point in the bird's life history or as proof of its perfect domestication.
The photogravures and tone blocks have been excellently done by Messrs. Hood & Co., Middlesbrough, England.page break