2020 has turned out to be a year in which we've all had to find sanctuary at home. Even once lockdown restrictions lifted we've continued to seek out sanctuary close to home rather than farther afield. With this in mind, I set out to Bushy Park - Tarapuruhi near Whanganui, about 2-3 hours drive from my home.
|Bushy Park |
|A giant Northern rata loaded with epiphytes|
|Ratanui trunk - showing the many roots |
that the original epiphyte sent down
Northern rata start off life as an epiphyte in the crown of another tall tree such as rimu. While most epiphytes get all the nutrients they need from the sun and rain, as the rata grows it sends down roots to the ground to get more nutrients from the earth. These roots also send out girdling roots which encircle the host tree. Over time it sends down more and more roots, and by the time the host tree dies the rata may well have completely encircled it. The roots form what is called a pseudo trunk which supports the flowering crown and which is hollow inside.
|An example of a rata vine at its early stage with a root|
on the right heading to the ground and
encircling the host tree as it does so.
|A view of Ratanui's canopy|
|Tree fern silhouettes|
|One of the pathways surrounded by nikau palms|
|The rich forest floor - fallen branches and trees are left to lie,|
providing habitat for ferns, orchids, invertebrates, lizards and birds.
The fence surrounds and protects a 98-hectare lowland forest remnant. Within the fence is also a historic homestead where guests can stay and enjoy the bird song.
|The six-bedroom homestead|
A second lower fence within the sanctuary aims to protect the forest from any rodents that might hitch a ride in a car or camper van that drives in to visit.
|The inner fence|
These aren't the only birds to do well here. Large numbers of kererū - New Zealand pigeon, korimako - bellbird, and tūī were seen and heard on my visit.Kererū graze on the homestead lawn!
It's always a pleasure to see and hear the birds, and to be aware of the thriving network of other animals - insects, spiders, snails, lizards, etc that form part of this ecosystem.
- Visiting the sanctuary during daytime is free.
- Accommodation in the homestead is comfortable and reasonably priced, a cheaper self-catering option is the bunk house.
- There are educational displays in the old stables.