Monday, November 7, 2011

The Boulder Field

Highcliff East

Yesterday I popped over the hill to Highcliff to get in a little more practice shooting video with my slider and think about including the spot on my Southern NZ Photo Adventure with Martin Bailey. Unfortunately the wind was a bit strong and despite my best efforts I just couldn't hold my gear steady enough to get any smooth camera movement. As well as the rig shaking, the wind was actually buffeting my arm so much I couldn't move the slider with a nice fluid motion. Never mind, another good lesson learnt - things have their limitations. I did manage to get a few nice shots of the place though. Nothing award-winning, but fun to get.

Highcliff bouldersIt's a magic spot, even on a less than ordinary day. The round basalt boulders and their lichen patches are so intriguing. I even found one that had split, which seemed fairly rare. More Highcliff Boulders

What caught my eye yesterday though was the hardy little shrubs that grow between the boulders. It's a very windswept spot, and these are the only things higher than grasses and lichens that grow there. I think they're a Coprosma species, possibly Coprosma propinqua? I'm hoping my botanical photog mate Mike Thorsen will post a comment to put me right here. When not running photography workshops for the locals on the island of Saint Helena, Mike is photographing and helping conserve the local flora.

  Highcliff Coprosma

I recall hearing at school that NZ Coprosmas evolved a handy way of protecting their leaves from browsing by giant Moa birds by keeping them on the inside of the body of the bush, rather than on the tips of twigs. An interesting story - I'd be tempted to believe it's an adaptation to coastal wind.

 Dense foliage

Boulder moulders

There's an obvious relationship between the shrubs and boulders, I'm guessing the boulders provide just enough shelter for the young shrubs to establish. As they grow, they mould into the rocks, but ones that are especially rocked by the wind seem to have an additional bit of personal space, while still moulding to the form of the rock.

 Boulder moulder

 Adaptation, isn't it grand?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Clive. Sorry been a bit slow on responding, but I've been on a boat for 5 days in the South Atlantic Ocean. Yep, the shrubs are Coprosma. The close up is of C. crassifolia, but C. propinqua is also common. There are also a few of the rare C. obconica on the Peninsula.

    Looking forward to the wildlife tour!!