Travis Wetland Monthly Newsletter September 2019

Travis Wetland Trust

TFC Planting Day Reminder, Sept 21 2019

Travis Wetland Location Map
Travis Wetland Location Map

The next Travis work day, is Saturday September 21 2019, 10 am – 12:30.

Meet at the Education Centre (the old farm house) near the Beach Rd car park at 10 am.

As usual for September this is the big Trees for Canterbury spring planting day, hence the later start time. The planting day will be followed by a BBQ at the Education Centre.

All tools provided. It’s liable to be very wet underfoot, so gumboots will be essential. If you don’t own any we do have some for loan.

Latest News

Workday Saturday 17 August

There is not much to report because for the third month in a row the weather was wet on the work day! This time it was even wetter and we made no attempt to do any work. Instead we retired to the Education Centre for a coffee and an extended morning tea. Despite the weather a couple of newcomers arrived, so we had a good long chat with them. Not exactly what they were expecting, but more likely to entice them to return than working in the pouring rain.

Muddy Boots and Clothing but Smiling Faces

Conservation Volunteers planting Carex
Conservation Volunteers planting Carex

Ten smiling, enthusiastic, kitted up volunteers set out to plant more habitat. It became obvious after a short time that the ground of the chosen area was not up to the weight of people! Abandon ship was the call after one of the volunteers unexpectedly over-topped both of her gumboots and had to be freed by leader Donna, while a second one also filled one of his boots with the same cold, oozy, squelchy, wet contents that make up much of Travis.

Still smiling our rather muddied group retreated to drier parts – the dunes. The many yellow lupin plants that had flourished there were removed.

Conservation Volunteers pulling ivy
Conservation Volunteers pulling ivy

After a lunch break the volunteers filled five large bags with pulled ivy and honeysuckle from under the biggest weeping willow. These were left on site away from the track ready to be removed by the Rangers with a truck. Later in the week when the Rangers went to collect the bags of weeds they were puzzled and surprised that someone had removed the contents from three of the bags and made off with the bags! Recycle & reuse!?

Muddy but still smiling the volunteers then sorted the gumboots at the Ed Centre and enjoyed afternoon tea in the sun before leaving.

Thank you Donna for organising your group from the NZ Trust for Conservation Volunteers to come to Travis.

Article and images: Eleanor Bissell

What are Lichens?

Lichens are fungi that have discovered agriculture” — lichenologist Trevor Goward

Gold-eye lichen, Teloschistes chrysophthalmus
Gold-eye lichen, Teloschistes chrysophthalmus

A lichen looks like a single organism, but it is actually a symbiotic relationship between different organisms. It is composed of a fungal partner (mycobiont) and one or more photosynthetic partners (photobiont). The photosynthetic partner is generally green algae or cyanobacteria. There are about 13,500 species of lichen on the Earth.

The algae provide nutrients, as they contain the pigment chlorophyll, which it uses during photosynthesis to produce carbohydrates the same way as green plants do. Thus the fungus obtains nutrients from the algae, the fungal tissue in turn provides shelter for the algae allowing it to grow in harsh conditions such as rock surfaces where it would otherwise be destroyed.

Lichens cover 6-8% of the Earth’s land surface, and more than 18,000 species of lichens have been identified worldwide. There’s been 1765 species recorded from NZ in 366 taxonomic groups, making up approximately 10% of the worlds known population.


Lichens are found in a wide range of habitats from the branches of trees to fence rails and rock and stone. They are known from the Arctic and Antarctic and all regions in between. They have even survived 15 days exposed to the vacuum and near absolute zero (-273 deg. C) temperatures of space, via a ride on a Soyuz rocket in 2005. When they returned to earth they were found to still be perfectly healthy.

To assist their survival in such inhospitable conditions, lichens are able to shut down metabolically during periods of unfavourable conditions, then with the appropriate amount of light and moisture lichens will continue to grow.

Another method that helps with there survival is that lichens can produce an arsenal of more than 700 unique biochemical compounds that serve to control light exposure, repel herbivores, kill attacking microbes, and discourage competition from plants.


Xanthoria parietina, Maritime Sunburst Lichen
Xanthoria parietina, Maritime Sunburst Lichen

Lichen are capable of both sexual and asexual reproduction

Asexual Reproduction

Most lichens are very brittle when dry, some simply relying on breakages of the thallus to produce fragments that are dispersed by wind, rain, or insects and birds. They can produce soredia (bundles of fungal filaments that are produced inside the lichen and rupture through the thallus), or isidia (outgrowths of the thallus surface), both of which break off and blow away to colonise new areas.

Sexual Reproduction

This is a far more complex process and descriptions of it involve many big words and concepts that are too complex to try and delve into. Basically the fungal part of a lichen can reproduce sexually. The trick is that the new fungus that grows has to find an algal partner to form a new lichen and this happens by chance. The fungus produces a spore that is carried by the wind and water to a new site to germinate. It then has to find the right algae to become a new lichen.

In the lichens’ world sexual reproduction is nowhere near as successful as asexual reproduction.

Where to find them at Travis

Sexy Pavement Lichen, Xanthoparmelia scabrosa
Sexy Pavement Lichen, Xanthoparmelia scabrosa

On your wanders around Travis have a look on the trees and fence railings. The bird hide track is a good place.

You’ll find the grey green Ramalina with little “domes” on its surface. Look closely and you will find 4 species of Ramalina. Groups of Usnea of which the aptly named old man’s beard is a member. Brightly coloured Golden-eye lichen and golden yellow Xanthoria add splashes of colour. If you’re lucky you may even find a sexy pavement lichen!

Lichen are at their best after a rain when they come alive and their colours really shine.

Article and images: Grahame Bell

Australasian Swamp Harrier

Swamp harrier
Swamp harrier

Have you seen the swamp harriers (hawks) flying over the wetland recently? For me they are a sign of spring as they circle lazily high overhead calling intermittently. Their call is a series of same note, high-pitched, short, sharp “kee-o kee-o.” At other times of the year they are generally silent.

Swamp harriers breed at Travis Wetland and their nest has been found out in the middle beyond the central willows. They are one of the birds that has increased in number due to the arrival of Europeans and their land clearance. Although carrion is a major component of the harrier’s diet, it also actively hunts live prey such as small birds, mammals and insects.

Images: Grahame Bell Words: Dave Evans, with help from NZ Birds Online