Tour of L’Esperance

We’re making good progress on our return journey but we’ve still got more tales to tell. Here’s one of our Kermadec side trips.

At our last stop before we turned to head for home, Peter and Warren were rapt to get ashore on L’Esperance Rock for a morning – it was always going to be the most difficult landing, and slippery boulders made the job even more tricky. But for the pick-up, Peter remembered some advice from the late Geoff Bayliss – wear socks.

So, bootless but socked they had a much grippier departure! As you can see in the photo, the island is very much a steep sided fortress.

L'Esperance - an island designed like a steep sided fortress © P de Lange

L'Esperance - an island designed like a steep sided fortress © P de Lange

 

Here’s the summit of L’Esperance Rock, showing plants making the most of the thin soil that forms in cracks.

L'Esperance summit where the plants make the most of slim soil reserves © P de Lange

L'Esperance summit where the plants make the most of slim soil reserves © P de Lange

As volcanic as the rest of the Kermadecs, L’Esperance even has its own little crater.

L'Esperance crater © P de Lange

L'Esperance crater © P de Lange

Black-winged petrels nest on the island (given the lack of soil, they’ve created burrows in the softest scoria layers!) and it is also a grey ternlet roosting area, so there is a constant input of rich guano for the plants, as you can make out in the photo (anything white is bird poo!).

The plants in the middle are seedlings of the endemic L’Esperance groundsel, and the smoother edged plants at the top are Parietaria debilis. This is a member of the nettle family but without stings, and is often associated with rich guano sites. Anyone particularly interested in this endemic plant should see the next post straight from Peter.

A plethora of poo: black-winged petrels and grey ternlets are responsible for the splodges of white. Nestled in the middle is seedlings of the endemic L’Esperance groundsel © P de Lange

A plethora of poo: black-winged petrels and grey ternlets are responsible for the splodges of white. Nestled in the middle is seedlings of the endemic L’Esperance groundsel © P de Lange

As we mentioned earlier, L’Esperance is designed not unlike a steep-sided fortress, so to finish with here is a shot of Warren clambering around on the island.

Warren making tracks on L'Esperance - it's no stroll © P de Lange

Warren making tracks on L'Esperance - it's no stroll © P de Lange

 

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