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Trip Report – Haywards Scenic Reserve
Metrosideros fulgens
Metrosideros fulgens.   Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.

Trip Report – 5 July 2014 :   Haywards Scenic Reserve

We did a five-hour circuit in this reserve on the Eastern Hutt hills.   We went up Dry Creek Zigzag Track, to Konini Saddle Track, and descended the Ngapunga and Lomaria Tracks to our entry point at the end of Whites Line East.

Despite its homogenous, uninteresting appearance from the floor of the Hutt Valley, this is wonderful, diverse, regenerating forest ranging from areas of broadleaf species such as pukatea, mahoe, kamahi, some huge old kanuka and manuka, scattered old podocarps, black and hard beech on the dry ridges, and the odd gorse bush still hoping for a clearing.

In the creek beds were many young nikau and some mature ones on the damp hillsides above.   Higher up there was plenty of kiekie, some of which was setting fruit.   Wonderful sprays of red supplejack berries grew close to the track.   This was no surprise as up and down the steep hillsides were dense, impenetrable areas of supplejack, well established under the canopy.   We saw Metrosideros fulgens in flower.

There were few weeds lower down near the Whites Line East entrance but in the upper reaches of the Zigzag Track climbing asparagus has got away.   Himalaya honeysuckle, tagasaste and a patch of Selaginella close to the main track should go.

Ripogonum scandens
Ripogonum scandens.   Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.
Ehrharta erecta grows along the track, a shade-tolerant, invasive grass.   Some native species, e.g., puriri, Hoheria populnea and many karaka were growing here, out of zone.

It was interesting to see the similarity of Leptopteris hymenophylloides to the many Hymenophyllum filmy ferns in abundance on the Zigzag Track.   It was clear why this Leptopteris species is so named – when small it is hard to distinguish from the filmy ferns.   The clue is to look closely for the reproductive structures of Hymenophyllum, on the edge of the frond; if absent, the filmy fern is a small L. hymenophylloides.”

In some sunny spots on the zigzag track, there were many Acianthus sinclairii in flower.   At about the same size as these tiny orchids was a sprinkling of the delightful, green, butterfly dicotyledons of the beech trees, germinating as a result of this, the first mast year since 2008.

Few birds were seen or heard although there was evidence of pest trapping.   We heard fantail, grey warbler, tui and bellbird.

There were some huge ‘worm’ holes in soft mud on a damp bank that only Barbara Mitcalfe had seen before, in Stable Gully in Wellington’s Botanic Garden.   An e-mail to NatureWatch found out they were the hatching place of the giant native dragonfly, Uropetala carovei, which has a wing span of 125mm Exoskeletons were found on the ground below.   Images of this and some plants seen are on the link: calendar/leonperrie/2014/7/5.

Fuscospora truncata
Hard beech (Fuscospora truncata) seedling.
Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.
This walk is mostly under bush cover, so would be sheltered in bad weather.   However it was a fine day, and the steep tracks were not too slippery.   Several Metrosideros vine species, orchids and toadstools indicated that this track would be interesting to botanise at any time of year.   The reserve has a network of tracks, some connecting suburban road ends, and others going up to the firebreak along the ridge.   Many botanical surveys have been done here since Geoff Park did his in 1971.   They make a good record of the succession from gorse to bush on the clay and greywacke hillsides.

We covered only part of the reserve, but we had an extensive plant list for the entire reserve, updated by Pat Enright and Chris Hopkins in June.   The only additions to their plant list were Blechnum novaezelandiae (an oversight) and Juncus edgariae.

Participants :   Bev Abbott, Sam Buckley, Gavin Dench, Jill & Ian Goodwin, Chris Hopkins, Chris Horne, Sheena Hudson, Rodney Lewington, Pat McLean, Barbara Mitcalfe, Mick Parsons, Leon Perrie, Lara Shepherd, Darea Sherratt, Sunita Singh (deputy leader), Julia Stace (leader/scribe), Julia Wilson-Davey.


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