Sketching the Godwit….Northland, New Zealand….
Each spring thousands of godwits make the impressive direct flight from Alaska to New Zealand shores. A non-stop flight of 11,000km in about 8 days. Most depart in March, making the epic return journey North, via Eastern Asia, to their thawing Arctic breeding grounds.
Godwit Web-Links: NZ Birds Online: Godwit sound recordings at this link. Plus Godwit identification, distribution, habitat, breeding, food, threats & conservation; DOC NZ: The Godwit migration; Teara NZ: Map of Godwits migration route; NZ Science Resources: Interesting information about “Godwits in flight”: flight path, flock formation, wing design, flight speed.
Photography, beach walk, shells….Northland New Zealand
Bumblebees, members of the same ‘Apidae’ bee family as honeybees, are not native to New Zealand. Four bumblebee species were introduced into New Zealand, from the United Kingdom between the late 1880’s and early 1900s, for the pollination of one specific flower, red clover. Apart from the Bombus terrestris (the large earth bumblebee) the longer tongues of the other three species can reach inside the large red clover flower. While the shorter-tongued honeybee is unable to reach the red clover nectar, it is still a valuable pollinator of white clover flowers. Bumblebees also make honey, but in smaller quantities than the honeybee, stored in their underground nests. Unless their nest is disturbed, bumblebees are not usually aggressive, but the females are actually able to sting.
You can discover where each species is found using this interactive site: Distribution of bumblebees in NZ
Nature Photography. I’ve often heard that bees don’t see colours the way humans do. Apparently bees see most vividly the various colors of blue (violet, indigo, cobalt etc, the ultraviolet spectrum from 600–300 nm). The bees may be attracted primarily to the color blue, but they will collect pollen and nectar as they encounter or collide with other flowers with a suitable food source.
As these foraging bees collect pollen and nectar the plants are being pollinated. The ingested sugary nectar, is further broken down before being regurgitated into the honeycomb. As water evaporates the sweet substance thickens into honey.
Peter Molan (20-10-1943 – 16-9-2015) New Zealand biochemist at the University of Waikato, noted for his 30 years of research into the medicinal properties of honey, has made available to the public, the vast knowledge gained from this work. This exceptional resource can be found at Waikato Academia-Peter Molan. For more about and Tributes to Professor Peter Molan
While many bee species have been introduced to New Zealand specifically to enhance the pollination of crops, New Zealand does have about 30 species of native bees which also consume pollen and nectar and are important pollinators of New Zealand’s native flora, significantly manuka and pohutukawa. Not being a communal ‘hive’ bee, NZ’s native bees make their more independent nests in the earth. Neither do they make honey. There are more interesting details at Auckland Ecology-Native Bees – What’s The Buzz.
Sketching, Photography, Printmaking
New Zealand’s energetic songbird, the Fantail or Piwakawaka appears very friendly as it flits around very close to people. The following sites have interesting information about this little native fan-tailed bird, which lives in a wide variety of NZ habitats: NZ Birds Online-Fantail Breeding and Ecology; NZ Department of Conservation-Fantail Song & Māori Mythology; NZ Landcare Research-Fantail Location
For Joseph – Photographic montage – New Zealand lambs