Sunday, 10 January 2016

Copper

Much of the land around Wellington harbour is reclaimed, some of it thrown up from the sea in the great earthquake of 1855 (our taxi driver yesterday had a great-great-grandfather who was Inspector of Police in Wellington at the time of that one). A small part of the reclaimed land, near Te Papa, has been turned into a pleasant natural park, planted with native shrubs and bushes and saltmarsh plants. There, as I discovered yesterday, lives a thriving little colony of the Common Copper (Pepe Para Riki in my new second language), happily feeding on its favourite Wire Vine (Pohuehue). It's a pretty little thing, rather like our own Duke of Burgundy, but paler and with the definite look of a Copper, if not the burnished colouring of our beautiful Small Copper. The Common Copper - as abundant as its name suggests - has a clever way of adapting its life cycle to cope with the unpredictability of the New Zealand weather, some of each brood of larvae going into a quiescent phase for several months while the rest proceed to maturity. It's one of those busy, happy-seeming butterflies that tend to bustle about in one place rather that whizzing past one's head at speed, so it's a joy to watch. And this morning I rescued one from a spiderweb, carefully pulling the strands of silk off until it was able to clean itself and take off, flying happily back into the Wire Vine bush. My conservation good deed of the day.

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