Entrepreneurs at Glengarry bike day

 Heilala Pita , 8, listens to  her sister Onevai Pita, 10, about how her ideas will raise the money they need for their secret project

The Glengarry community and bike enthusiasts from across the city showed their support for the  initiative of Rebecca Amundsen who organised a fun day last Sunday ( 14 Feb) which took many people back to the days when Glengarry had its own cycling club.

Old and young alike took part in the various criterium grade races interspersed with opportunities for fun events for both children and adults to enter in to the spirit of the day.  With perfect weather conditions speed was a factor and spectators were treated to some keen competition.

Valentine’s day was celebrated with two member teams passing floral bouquets in a relay style two- lap race and setting a cracker pace as they covered the Glengarry circuit.

Veteran cyclist Ray Robinson was there for the memories of riding competitively in Invercargill and everywhere beyond as well from 1966 to 1971 and then started again in 1992. He joined in the races for run after doing a 70km training ride that morning.

Marshall for the day, Ann Grieve said she loved it all and especially the criterium races which were so professional.

" I could see young riders looking very skilled and being the budding competitive cyclists of the future," she said. " It was well organised by Becs with great support from many helpers and I think it should become an annual event."

With about 300 attending over the organised  cycling time followed by the musical event, Southern Sound, people took the opportunity to raise funds as well with food and other stalls.

Young entrepreneurs, sisters Heilala Pita, 8, and Onevai Pita, 10,  used a cat theme to draw 'caricatures' which resembled the person’s facial features, all for a dollar.

"We have  home- made toffee apples and other  lollies for sale and with our family’s help we are hoping to add to our secret fundraising  project and we have made $51 so far," Onevai said.

Amundsen said she was very grateful to all the people who helped as it was a team event.

"I appreciated Venture Southland and Cycling Southland people who did a lot of the organising, along with local residents who might have been put out by the road closure  and any businesses who were inconvenienced by that," she said. "It was lovely seeing some residents sitting on their street frontages under the trees, having a picnic and enjoying the action and lots of children enjoyed the playground."

Lumsden Community Garden

Keen holiday garden helpers, ( left) James Bayer, 11, Isabelle Bayer, 8 and Adam Bayer, 10,  enjoying harvesting some of the bountiful produce.

The emphasis is on nutritious, spray free fruit and vegetables, produced along organic principles, at the Lumsden Community garden organised under garden co-ordinator, Adele Woodford through Northern Southland Community Resource Centre Charitable Trust ( NSCRCCT).

"The garden is about supporting families in the community by giving them the opportunity to learn how to garden, how to meet family budgets and a place for new people to gather and get to know others," Woodford said. " The tunnel house provides more opportunities for new vegetables to be trialled."

It has a mixture of vegetables including courgettes, tomatoes and cucumber, with the first crop of lettuces already harvested.

"We even have a water melon plant in there and I wonder if I am dreaming wanting it to produce water melons down here, but we are hopeful," she said. " The strawberry plot is very popular with the children who have been watering for us over the holidays."

"We meet regularly on Tuesday afternoons from 1 to 3pm for working bees, to weed and plant," she said. "The raised garden beds have a mixture of plants and are very productive with us leaving the plants to seed so we have continuous cropping."

This year saw a good crop of rhubarb off two rows but even more could have been planted to meet the big demand as it was very popular. A lot of potatoes were planted last spring with them being a good staple crop for families.

"We do companion planting and vary and mix up the crops to confuse the bugs as well as leave plants to flower so they attract beneficial insects, before going to seed," she said. "The bug free vegetables are amazing."

"All our helpers are against sprays as we recognise their negative effect on bees and other beneficial insects, " Woodford said. "As we harvest, the regular helpers take some vegetables home and the rest are given to people who live alone, some families or Lumsden Senior citizens who appreciate the fresh produce."

The big compost bin is being used constantly but there never seems to be enough to keep the soil fertility replenished. There are four people who are regular helpers as they do not have a garden at home and more people seem to come in the winter to help when they are not so busy.

"We plant continuously, putting in new plants as spaces come available," Woodford said. " People are very generous with donating seeds and plants which we appreciate."

Penguin plight

Adult yellow- eyed penguin with 2 chicks at Te Rere Private Scientific Reserve in the Catlins.

Concern is held for the well -being of the endangered yellow-eyed penguin at Southland Forest and Bird’s ( F&B) Te Rere Private Scientific Reserve in the Catlins, with this nesting year predicted to be a bad one for penguin productivity based on the nest search information. This follows a poor season last year and an indication that there have also been adult penguins dying, Southland Forest and Bird yellow- eyed penguin advisory group member, Brian Rance said.

A small group of committed F&B members undertook the annual count early in December as they have been doing for about 25 years there. The first team of four set off from Invercargill at 8.30am, arriving at the isolated site on the rocky east coast about 10.00am and were met by a large sea lion which was inquisitive about the interlopers to its territory.

They were based at  the two regular sites in order to  count the penguins making a return to their  nest in the undergrowth, bringing back food for the chicks which they had gathered at sea. The adult birds swap duties with the other one of the pair then take a turn to go out to sea for food. Males and females share the duties. They are very secretive birds so the native vegetation planted there over the past 25 years  provides excellent habitat.

"It was raining all day and cool, however conditions improved for the second group which picked up the count from 4pm to 10pm," Rance said.

The number of adult birds coming in during the count day are taken as the best estimate of the adult numbers at the site.

"From the results of our December count day this year we could estimate 49 adults present," he said. "This figure has varied from 46 to 66 over the last 6 years, down from the highs of over 70 adults which had shown recovery after the disastrous 1995 fire."

This does support the fears of a moderate decline in adult numbers at Te Rere. Only 12 nests had been found but the searchers believe there are possibly 14 in the reserve. There were  still many more birds present than indicated by the nests with several non-nesting birds found scattered through the reserve.

"The adult birds observed during the nest search generally appeared in good condition and the chicks appeared healthy, " he said. "One of the concerns was that there were no juvenile birds observed coming in from the sea meaning there may not be young birds joining the breeding population there although they could be elsewhere on the coast."

"The hopeful aspect was that about half of the nests seemed to have two healthy chicks, with no chick mortality to date, "Rance said." We checked all the predator traps, finding a hedgehog and a young male stoat but no rats."

"The annual monitoring will continue, along with regular pest control and more planting, in the hope that conditions at sea will improve and the endangered yellow – eyed penguin numbers will rise to ensure the on- going life in this special breeding  colony, " Rance said. "Fortunately Te Rere is one of the breeding sites in Otago Southland area with an increase over last year’s low with no sign of avian diphtheria which is encouraging."