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Wildlife in the Hayward Scenic Reserve


Bellbirds in the Reserve!

Sightings of lone birds have been reported ranging between Cleary St in the north to Mawson St in the south. I fear they are lonely males, and that future breeding in our reserve may depend upon pairs choosing to migrate here from areas (e.g. MIRO's intensive pest controlled area in EHRP) where females have not been wiped out by predation. How satisfying it would be if somebody actually sights a female in our reserve!!

According to the Readers Digest "Complete Book of New Zealand Birds", bellbirds are strictly manogamous and pairs remain together for several years. They court in winter when the male sings in front of the female. During this display the male holds its body almost vertical and hovers or flies slowly upwards making a loud whirring noise with its wings. After mating the pair stay constantly together and often duet.

Each pair remains in its range, but there is often considerable overlap of adjacent ranges. Birds sing and countersing to space themselves in relation to each other. They move outside their ranges to feed at concentrated nectar sources. At such food areas bellbirds interact vigorously with much displaying, chasing and singing.

They eat nectar from many native and introduced plants. They take soft berries during the late summer and autumn, when nectar bearing flowers are less common. They catch small invertibrates, especially insects and spiders, in considerable quantities, most commonly by gleaning trunks, branches and leaves, but also by hawking. Females take more insects and less nectar than males. Except at concentrated nectar sources, feeding bellbirds are usually silent.

Brief recognition guide: Size - 200mm (8 inches to oldies like me)
Vigorous movements;slender proportions, with a distinctly arched bill and shallow fork in tail.
Located by characteristic bell-like song -click here to hear it
Flight often noisy.

Biodiversity in the Reserve

The original vegetation of the Eastern Hills was predominantly hard beech and black beech, with larger forest trees such as rimu, kahikitea and miro showing through the canopy in gullies and wetter areas. With the first European settlement of the Hutt Valley in the 1840's came extensive burning of the local native forest and most of the present forest dates from the times of these early fires. Today the Reserve has rimu, miro, pukatea, beech, tawa, northern rata, kawakawa, mahoe, mamaku, kanuka, manuka and many more shrubs and ferns. Following the fires of early settlers, gorse took hold and some parts of the Reserve became heavily covered with gorse and scrub. Over the years, there were a number of large scrub fires in areas adjoining the Reserve, but luckily none of these fires entered the Reserve.

In 1955 the Lower Hutt City Parks Department provided 2,000 trees which were planted by volunteers in an area adjacent to the northwest boundary. These trees acted to suppress the growth of gorse, and so reduce the risk of fire entering the remnant native bush in the Reserve. On several occasions since then the Reserve has had further activity including a number of planting ceremonies on Arbour Day. A kauri tree was planted on one of these Arbour days by the late Sir Walter Nash. It is now on private property but can be seen up the drive to the left just before the entrance on Whites Line East.

The Reserve's forest and scrub communities provide refuge for a number of native bird species. These include the tui, bellbird, fantail, waxeye, grey warbler, native pigeon, and morepork.

Despite its fire risk, gorse is beneficial by fixing nitrogen in the topsoil and providing an excellent nursery cover under which young native tree species become established and thrive. Over time the native species emerge from and eventually smother the gorse canopy, causing its complete collapse.

Unfortunately, a number of unwanted exotic plant species, some in the noxious weed category, are also present in parts of the Reserve and adjoining slopes. Nasties include Banana passionfruit (Passiflora mollissima), Old man's beard (Clematis vitalba), Climbing asparagus or Snakefeather as it is now commonly called (Asparagus scandens), Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), and Wandering Jew (Trandescantia fluminensis). Other unwanted exotics include Blackberry (Rubus fruticosis agg.), Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa), Hawthorn (Crateagus monogyna), several wattle (Acacia) species, and some wilding pine species.

Visitors to the Reserve are encouraged to pull out the seedlings of any unwanted exotics which they may encounter and to immediately notify the Hutt City Council concerning the whereabouts of any infestations of Banana passionfruit or Old man's beard which they have seen.

Information on any intensification of the weed control policies of the Hutt City Council or Greater Wellington - the Regional Council, as they relate to species known to be in the Reserve, will be posted on this website from time to time.


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