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Sunday, 30 November 2014

More Octopus Stinkhorns

Monday Mushroom #61

Just some more photos of the wonderful Octopus Stinkhorn - Clathrus archeri. I'm pleased to say it seems to be a very common, easy to spot mushroom in parks and gardens around Auckland. Its 'tentacles' are quite variable in form and colour.

Octopus Stinkhorn - Clathrus archeri

Octopus Stinkhorn - Clathrus archeri

Octopus Stinkhorn - Clathrus archeri

Octopus Stinkhorn - Clathrus archeri

Previous post with more photos is here:

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Mantis Hatchlings

I had been watching the ootheca of a springbok mantis - Miomantis caffra - on the wall next to my front door since I moved in here five months ago, then suddenly, last week it was covered in a swarm of tiny little mantis nymphs, each about 7mm long.

There were twenty on the first evening. With smaller numbers emerging over the next three days - all in the late afternoon.

I caught the hatching process on video a couple of times, but it is a long, slow process - emerging as a worm-shaped thing, and then wriggling to unfurl their limbs.

They then hang around on the ootheca until they have hardened and turned brown, after which they mostly seem to wait nearby until nightfall before dispersing.

These little guys still have a way to go to become a fully-fledged adult:

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hochstetter's Frog

 Here is Hochstetter's Frog - Leiopelma hochstetteri. This is probably the most endangered animal to be featured in this blog so far and it is also the first native terrestrial vertebrate I have found in New Zealand after 7 months of nature rambles.

Hochstetter's Frog - Leiopelma hochstetteri

The last few decades are full of tales of calamitous population crahses of various amphibians and while this frog is more widespread than the other native New Zealand frogs, it's habitat is fragmented and more in contact with the upheaval caused by human factors. 

Hochstetter's Frog - Leiopelma hochstetteri

An Enigma: I was recentlly reading Joel Samuel Polack's New Zealand Journal 1831-1837 (much recommended for the curious anecdotes and outrageously florid writing style!) He mentions frogs being widespread in swamps in New Zealand three times in the book. Each time he describes them as swamp dwelling creatures that croak loudly when it rains:

p150: ...became continually fearful of the croaking of frogs, who congregate in the adjoining marshes in great numbers, from the ridiculous superstitions of these 

p305: Their notes partake of the melodious croaking of the frogs, whose vocal powers are exerted for their own satisfaction in the adjacent swamps and morasses. 

p318: ...toads, frogs, with their barometrical croak! croak! abound in the swamps. These subsultive reptiles do not differ from the species in Europe, each being animated with a similar determination to subjoin their remarks with open throat on approaching rain ; and, near to mountainous districts, the situation of these hydromancers is no sinecure, from the frequency of the falling fluid.

The native New Zealand frogs are all practically silent - they don't even have the physiology to be capable of loud croaking. None of the existing species are swamp dwellers either. It would be interesting to see if anyone can find corroborating notes from the early years of the colony.

I found this article on the same topic form 1962:

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Austroboletus Niveus

Monday Mushroom #60

This is Austroboletus niveus - a fairly large and handsome bolette native to New Zealand.

Austroboletus niveus

It has a soft, spongy texture and is the only mushroom I know which, on handling, imparts a sticky, resin-like substance which is difficult to remove from the skin.

I haven't been able to find much written about it at all... :-/

Austroboletus niveus