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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A walk on the wild side

This morning the sun came out after some overnight rain, and I headed to Murphy's Bush. It's a remnant of the native forest that once covered this area of Manukau,  20 kilometres south of New Zealand's largest city, Auckland. The air was alive with the cries of birds - tui, greywarbler, fantail, pigeon and silvereye - and flocks wheeled and swooped above the canopy. This huge Puriri tree, (above) beside the walking track, has bright red fruit, one of their favourite foods. 
 Murphy's Bush was owned many years ago by Mr Conway Grey Murphy, who protected the bush from grazing cattle, and encouraged people to use it for picnics and outings. Dominating it today are these Kahikatea, or White Pines, (above) which can grow up to 50 metres or more. Their trunks seem quite flexible and were swaying alarmingly in the breeze. (Early Maori used them to make weapons and canoes.)

Beside the track I found a Rewarewa, or NZ Honeysuckle. Though small now, it may eventually grow up to 30 metres high. Its flowers play an important part in honey production.
I loved the patterns made by the sunlight on the leaves of this Nikau palm tree. It bears pink flowers, followed by green berries which turn red as they ripen.

One of the star attractions of Murphy's Bush is this giant Totara. Its age wasn't recorded on the name plaque,  but they can live for over a thousand years, and grow up to 30 metres tall.

Ponga ferns abound in the reserve. The silver undersides of the fronds (NZ's emblem) were shining out from the shadows.
Although the bush was full of birds, the dense canopy made them difficult to spot. But this tui appeared overhead, and stayed long enough for a photo.