River mouth drone photos May 2021

Blair kindly takes regular drone photos of the river mouth, village and Strathnaver areas. Beware data use on phone plans.

The photos below have been reduced in size and quality. The full-size versions are worth viewing though, so at the end of the post is a set of links to the larger, better quality photos, each of which is around 9 MB in size.

Looking south, at the river mouth.
Looking south, at the river mouth.

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Spinifex superpowers

For several consecutive years now Horowhenua District Council has contributed plants and labour, together with Waikawa Beach community members, to plant spinifex and pīngao in an area by the north track of Reay Mackay Grove. Take a look at this photo of empty sand from back in January 2014.

Boardwalk through dunes with no plants.
Boardwalk through dunes with no plants.

Now Stephen Betts has created a series of comparison photos to show both the growth of the spinifex and of the dunes around the new plantings.

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What’s in the river water at Waikawa Beach

On 06 April 2021 this item appeared: What’s in the water? Nationwide interest in EPA programme:

By sampling just a litre of water, groups capture remnants of DNA shed by creatures in the waterway. The eDNA data reveals all the species present — from microbes to mammals. This can indicate the overall health of the ecosystem and draw attention to creatures that are under threat or unwanted pest species.

Environmental DNA, or eDNA, refers to all the tiny traces of genetic material that is left behind as living things pass through water or soil.

From kērēru to kōwhai, and the leaves in the wind, all living things shed genetic information into their local environment. This is called environmental DNA, or eDNA.

For example, a bird flies over a lake and drops a feather. … Likewise, an insect may fall into the lake, and leaves fall from trees. These plants and animals leave behind ‘genetic breadcrumbs’ (such as skin cells and faeces) in the environments they live in.

A bit of investigation showed that back in May 2020 Tim Clapham from Wellington High School took a sample from the river at Waikawa Beach. The results of Sample number: 501185 show the presence of eDNA from cattle, pigs, birds such as shags, pūkeko, silvereye and geese, fish such as flounder and mullet, eels and īnanga, as well as snails, worms and other lifeforms.

Sample location on a map.
Sample location on a map.
Species found.
Species found.

The penguin says: down with death trap nets!

Yesterday John Hewitson, Chair of the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association, was walking along the beach north of the river when he spotted a suspicious looking black lump on the sand. A closer look revealed a penguin totally entangled in black fishing net, unable to swim or feed.

Penguin on the beach.
Penguin on the beach.
Penguin totally tangled in fishing net.
Penguin totally tangled in fishing net.

John freed the bird and contacted DoC’s hotline at 0800 362 468. He took the bird home and cared for it overnight (a warm secure bed in a box and a bowl of water).

Today the penguin is on its way to professional care at The Nest at Wellington Zoo.

Thanks John for spotting this bird in trouble and for rescuing it.

For folks out there who fish: please don’t let nets get away from you.

Update: here’s a much happier looking penguin!

Perky penguin in a box.
Perky penguin in a box.