Tag Archives: cicadas

On a clear day you can see forever

We have lived in this area for over 25 years and naturally many changes have happened in that time. When we first lived here this hill to the northwest of our home was named “Pine tree Hill” by the children because that described it perfectly.
Pinetree hill and moon

Eventually the pine trees were felled and the logs that were commercially viable were taken away. The bare sides of the hill were hard to look at. But very quickly mass planting of natives began and they are all well-established along with many flowering cherry trees and other plants that have resulted from birds dropping seeds. The hill provides cover and food for many of the regenerating native bird populations.

Last year our city council spent some money on making a look out area on the most northern part of this hill. Earlier this week these photos were taken from this wonderful vantage point on what is now known as the Spinnaker Lookout.

This is the view back to my “neck of the woods”
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The photo below shows the large area of trees, native and exotic that cover a hillside near my home and which is a great home for our birds and wildlife as well as wonderful places for children to play in the natural world.
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This view is the Lookout at the end of my street and which is currently under the gaze of the city council to perhaps “improve” it in some way. We will give careful thought to our submission as this area is windswept and natural with growing areas of natives and home to visits by the Shining Cuckoo, tui flocks and families and no doubt many other birds. It is a great area for children to play on in a free and natural manner using their imaginations.
DSCF6473 I look out onto these hills from the kitchen window above the sink. The hills are extremely dry at the moment thanks to all the winds we have had this summer and the lower rainfall in the past few weeks. I like the micro-view I have of these hills as I watch the light and shadows change, the weather changes and the movement of cattle from time to time. This photo is much more of a big picture view.
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Back to the east is the Pauatahanui Inlet with the small settlement of Pauatahahui at the head of the Inlet.
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A shift to the west shows the Inlet, then the entrance to the Porirua Harbour and in the distance the Tasman Sea. Somewhere over the horizon is Australia.
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Finally a more western view shows the South Island as blue hills off in the distance.
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Large trees block any view due south into another section of my suburb.
This photograph shows the village of Whitby and some areas of earthworks as development moves apace again.
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At the vantage point high on Spinnaker Hill there are two large signs offering visitors links to various places of interest with a historical reference or two, some ecology information and links to other walking tracks as well as the interesting symbol that smart phones can read and then provide more information.
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There is a large seat to rest on after the rigorous climb to this point and the plantings around this and the signs on the vantage point have been selected to survive conditions in this very windy spot. You can tell which way the predominant wind blows from this tough, drought resistance grass.

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Even on this cloudless day there was a stiff nor’wester blowing.

The path down through the wind tossed exotic gum trees crackling with cicadas and off home for a well earned cup of tea.
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Sheltering in summer

On a cool and very blustery day I found this cicada sheltering on a rock in the garden.
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It has been a dull season so far for these familiar summer companions here in New Zealand.
As my A.W.B Powell’s “Native Animals of New Zealand” tells me: “On a hot summer’s day the air seems to crackle with the volume of sound produced by hundreds of these insects singing together.”

First edition published in 1947.  This copy published 1961

First edition published in 1947. This copy published 1961


The sound of cicadas has been missing, in the main, this season with so many windy days and cooler temperatures. Perhaps there will be a late run of the cicada chorus.

And for a humorous quote about cicadas please visit my post here.

And for a fascinating piece about the star Sirius and traditional Maori beliefs check out this post and the comments.

Cicada beats

A fellow blogger at Ruth’s reflections was wondering what triggers the sudden appearance of our noisy, New Zealand summer companions, the cicada. It seems that the cicadas in Christchurch had come out en masse about the same time I noticed an upsurge in numbers here in Porirua. They are late this year but in the past two or three weeks the air has been crackling with the songs of the males.

I did a little investigating and found that soil temperatures around 22C certainly spur on their growth but the interesting information that captured my imagination was this piece:

“Maori and native Americans share an interesting link with cicadas.
Both identify the insects with the Dog Star, Sirius, which is at meridian in the summer sky when the nymphs emerge.
While many people do not realise that New Zealand has more than one type of cicada, Maori recognised 12 types based on their song and identified their arrival with the Dog Star, named Rehua after a forest deity. Cicadas are considered to be his protégés.
Various native American tribes have names for the insects that can be translated as Dog Star cicadas.”
Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=174350

Is there a star gazer out there who can tell me when Sirius appeared in the sky above New Zealand this year….perhaps the powerful light of a star is the tipping point for masses of cicadas to emerge from the ground and begin their short but noisy lives?

A cicada ladder?

The noisy songs of the cicada are a familiar feature of New Zealand summers. But this summer the grey clouds have quietened the usual noise and there have only been spasmodic days when I’ve heard their welcome sounds.

I was trimming back some foliage in our garden on Sunday and came across this branch containing the shed skins of at least 5 cicadas (the 5th is just out of this shot). It looked like a cicada ladder.

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The sound of summer

After weeks of grey skies, lots of drizzly rain and gale force winds yesterday was a bit brighter and warmer. I was visiting a friend who lives nearby and I was delighted to hear the sound of a cicada.

Cicadas herald summer here so perhaps come December 1st we will begin to enjoy a lovely, warm summer.

Cicadas are native to New Zealand and it is the male who makes the loud crackling song which ends in a click as he flicks his wings. On a hot summer’s day the air can be filled with the deafening songs of hundreds of cicadas singing loudly for their mate.

The Greek poet Xenarchus wrote: Happy are cicada’s lives, for they have only voiceless wives”.

The weather today has been even better with little wind and warm sunshine all day. The two cherry tomato plants which have been growing apace in my kitchen waiting for warmer and calmer weather are now planted outdoors and staked firmly to withstand the wind if it returns. We also planted another crop of lettuce.

Roll on summer!

Chorus cicada