It was great to see Le Roys Bush (Wai Manawa) through different eyes and to walk at a slow pace without stopping to pull out weeds.
Derek Craig and Char Bailie of the Kaipatiki Project led a two hour walk today with volunteers from the project to learn more about the ecology of our native rain forests.
I first started walking in Le Roys Bush in the mid 1970s when there was no track down the wetland.
Some years ago, I'd followed a Beyond the Fence Bush walk led by Bec Stanley and back around 2007 a Friends of Le Roys walk with Ewen Cameron of Auckland Museum.
But It's great to know that there are always new things to see and new things to learn.
People drew my attention to things I hadn't seen before or maybe I preferred to forget.
In looking at the weed tree acmena and a bay tree amongst the Kauri on the senior citizens steps (noted as things on the LRB Weekly Wednesday Working bee's target list), Derek explained about the toxins in bay tree leaves and about the man who died driving a van load of bay tree branches to the tip.
We learnt from Char about mangemange and about her favourite tree in Le Roys - the kōtukutuku gowing in the valley below the waterfall. Kawhara is the name of the fruit of kiekie - some plants had half a dozen fruit - healthy kawhara is a sign that rat control is doing well. But it needs to be kept up - kawhare is ice cream to rats.
Char also talked about "short forests" - people tend to plant the forest canopy species early in a re-forestation project because of the funding cycle - this means that the canopy trees get the sun early - and have no need to reach full forest height. So the forest remains short and the environment misses out on a large amount of biomass and fruit that would come with taller trees.
Sharp eyes noticed a 4 metre high flowering Chinese privet by the old track below Wernham Place - can you spot it in this photo?
Char pointed out how many supplejack vines had been cut back along the track. She said that this happens in a lot of reserves - people assume that they are weeds so trim them.
Fabrice pointed out the taurepo flowers growing on the sides of the waterfall track
Derek talked about the whauwhaupaku (aka five finger) on the track edge.
Char pointed out how beatifully the flax, ferns, kiekie, carex and other native grasses are looking in the restored upper wetland
The flax and ferns are now visible from the new boardwalk.
The fallen kanuka that a LRB volunteer had trimmed back off the track had a lot of rata growing over it. It had fallen around an S shaped pukatea that Fabrice talked about.
The wild ginger growing down the bank south of the waterfall is still there. It was reported to Wildlands - but it looks like the old guys will need to go in with a rope.
Thanks to Bill who pulled out a ginger plant and a queen of the night from the slope below the bridge leading to the Highbury board walk.
Two people fell when walking on the edge of the lower wetland track near the Kauri Dieback cleaning station - this risk will be reported to Council:
Many of the walkers travelled back to Highbury in the KP van. Those who walked back up were joined by two kereru playing in trees just above the Highbury track - you can only just see one of them in this shot.
Last but not least, we were gently reminded that hangehange and mangemange end in "e" as in "te" not "ti" so they don't rhyme with "hangi".
Some of the participants remembered what the wetland was like 20 years ago when crack willow, pampas grass, ginger and kikuyu still dominated. A tribute was paid to the wonderful kaitiaki who have helped restore Le Roys over recent decades. Although it was noted that Wildlands has yet to get on top of the japanese honeysuckle which is spreading across the wetland.
A wonderful day which I hope will be repeated by one of our local experts so that the Le Roys Bush community can also appreciate more of the wonders of Wai manawa.