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  • Martyn Williams

New Zealand to Brittany!

We were very lucky to have just spent 5 weeks in New Zealand during the onset of their Spring.

What an amazing country full of contrast in landscapes and climate, wonderful habitats and lovely people. However under the surface we learnt of a environment which has major ecological problems and a natural landscape that has only between 10 and 15 % of the original remaining. As always this has been caused by man in one form or another from the onset of the Maori people whom introduced some land mammals and also wiped out the amazing Mao by overhunting. Then the acceleration of destruction when the Europeans arrived and stripped the country of much its wildlife, Whaling and Sealing in particular and introduced other species such as Goats, Cats, Rats, Weasels and Stoats and the Bush tailed possum to name but a few. Added to that is the scale of intensive agriculture and use of fertilisers and herbicides etc on grasslands, sadly the same old story the world over. Nowadays the New Zealand government are partway through a 30 year programme to attempt to eradicate as many as these introduced species as possible and everywhere we went were notices of "beware of the poison bait" found in the forest and there were mechanical traps of various kind in many locations. The predatory animals have destroyed many indigenous species whom are easy prey because they have evolved without any predators for many thousands of years and therefore have no skills or instinctive fear of these new animals. The specie in particular destroying the forest is the possum which was introduced to create a fur trade and when released into the wild thrived and expanded rapidly because of no other competition and no indigenious predator to keep the numbers under check. The only mammalian species, apart from the sea mammals ie Whales Seals and the like, originally found in New Zealand are 3 species of bat.

New Zealand is probably the last land mass of that size to be colonised by humans in a relatively short time ago, about 800 years since the first Maori people discovered it, so although still stunningly beautiful it shows what man can do in a few hundred years.

Sorry to go on a tirade but I was quite shocked by the extent of the problems , however it is still a wonderful place to visit and would thoroughly recommend anyone to go there

So finally home to Brittany to wonderful sunshine, and warm balmy nights ..... Well maybe not!

Have been enjoying the multicoloured woodlands around Rafa's usual trail and seeing more and more birds exposed as the leaves begin to drop, seen and heard one of our resident Black woodpeckers and seen Crested, Marsh, Blue and Great tits, rescued a Fire salamander from the local chapelle's source ( they are having their live young at the moment so if you find any in a water fountain or small pond thats what they are doing this time of year ). I'm going to arrange a bird watching day in the Golfe of Morbihan in the next few days so will email details to all very soon. Until the next time, Au revoir!!

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