An unusual hunting ground

March 14, 2013

In late spring 2012, I visited Hooker Valley with friends, with a mind towards viewing Ranunculus lyallii (Mt Cook Buttercup) in full flower. Amongst the many fascinating plants and flowering events, the interaction of animals and plants formed an additional layer of interest. The most intriguing of these involved the peculiar peach-coloured spider shown in the photograph, which appeared to be using the pure white flowers of the buttercups as a hunting ground.

As can be seen in the photograph above, the spider has backed up towards the central structure within the flower, presumably to wait for insects that derive nectar and pollen from the flowers (I observed native bees and hoverflies, amongst other insects, visiting on this day).

The Mt Cook Buttercups were just one of many beautiful plants in flower. The snowberry (Gaultheria sp.) pictured below presented masses of bell-shaped flowers on compact bushes over much of the valley.

In previous visits, I have admired the artful way in which the boardwalk zigzags through the valley at a point higher up on the track. It is a good example of the unpretentious beauty that is often found in pragmatic, everyday structures – although it is clear that the decision to form the boardwalk in such a manner was a well-considered aesthetic gesture (rather than the simplest, most direct response).