New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to describe the megaherbs. On this island the major plants were the yellow bulbinella and the pink-tinged unbellifers, as well as three types of endemic daisies with colors ranging from pale yellow to white and even mauve. Tiny pipits perched on the flower spires singing and calling out their territories using these tallest “structures” in the landscape. The landscape was covered with these beautiful flowers so that whole island resembled Joseph’s coat of many colors spread out for the albatross to tread upon. The grasses and tussocks in the tundra areas were also beautiful (except when they were catching at my boots) in their many shades of green with silvery gray undersides on the shafts. There are 233 different plants on Enderby Island with 84% of them indigenous. At least 5 plants live only on the Auckland Island group: two gentians, a buttercup, a fruitless plantain, and the bellicose grass (to me at least) Poa aucklandia. In addition to the rata trees, another interesting plant is the tree daisy that grows in among the rata forest at the edges. The flower of this tree resembles a daisy very closely, hence its name. The world’s southernmost tree fern also lives on this wonderful island. In places where the tree ferns gather, the island almost looks tropical, Then add another surprising indigenous creature and the tropical designation doesn’t seem so far fetched: the red-crowned parakeet! What on earth is this bird doing in such an inhospitable and decidedly “unwarm” environment? He is about the same size as our familiar cage bird and boasts about the same color green feathers as ours. He has a crown of red feathers on his head which makes him stand out even among the colorful megaherbs and tall grasses where he flits and darts about. By the time we reached his part of Enderby, it was gray, misty and overcast and looked pretty chilly to us. This little fellow was totally unfazed and continued his usual activities. He and his fellows are so hardy that they are not considered endangered by DOC so no special measures are needed for his survival. Hooker sea lions also use Enderby for haul-outs and breeding beaches. They are protected on the island, but there is a big problem with these marine animals and DOC has not completely understood what is happening to them

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