February 2018 – Forest ringlet butterfly

Forest ringlet, Dodonidia helmsii, Mokihinui by Melissa Hutchison
As the song goes; ‘If you go into the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise,’ and that is just what happened recently to two volunteers checking Timms Trap lines in Aongatete forest. In a sunny glade, Barbara and Jenny saw a Forest ringlet, or Helms butterfly. It had alighted on the leaf of a grassy plant but, as they fumbled excitedly for a camera, it flitted away. The grassy plant was a sedge called Gahnia which is the food plant for the butterflies’ caterpillars. Sure enough, when th...
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Newsletter for our Neighbours

Greetings, neighbors of Aongatete Forest. This is the first of more regular newsletters from us, to keep you informed about our activities. Pest Levels We regularly measure the pest levels in the Forest. Monitoring done in early February shows that OUTSIDE the controlled area, our traps showed a 65% incidence of rats, compared to 8% within our controlled area. In one part of our forest where we have recently deployed 50 or so Good Nature traps, our rat indice is now 0%. Possum levels out...
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April 2017 – Giant moss

A giant grows at Aongatete. It’s not a tree or a fern or a flower – it’s a moss. It is the Giant moss, the tallest moss in the world. Mosses are usually short, like green carpet under the trees, but the Giant moss looks like a miniature forest of pine seedlings. Up to 50cm tall, a forest of Giant moss grows along the banks of the track near the Aongatete swimming hole. The Giant moss only grows in New Zealand and its scientific name is Dawsonia superba, Dawsonia aft...
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November 2016 – Breakfast with the Birds

The overnight event at Aongatete Lodge was billed as ‘Breakfast with the Birds’. It could equally have been described as ‘Spying on the Spiders’ or ‘Walking with the Weta’! The rain had stopped and, fuelled by a sumptuous dinner, the 60 participants went out in the dark to walk in the forest. We were guided by spider expert Bryce McQuillan, an excellent choice as there were spiders everywhere, lurking in sheet webs, tangle webs, orbwebs and tunnels, or just hunting on the forest floor. And it...
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February 2016 – Killing for Survival

In New Zealand conservation is all about killing. It’s tragic but it’s true. The animals we kill we call ‘pests’. Before people came, bats were the only mammals that had made their own way to these islands. New Zealand was a land of birds, lizards and invertebrates including giant weta and metre-long earthworms which were eaten by enormous worm-eating snails. All other warm-blooded furry animals in native forests are foreigners – rats, stoats, ferrets, feral cats, hedgehogs, deer, goats and p...
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