Summer is here. Kingfishers are calling, shining cuckoos are back, and just this week I heard the first cicada of the season. It wasn’t actually this one in the picture, it was the small grey ‘clay bank’ cicada, Notopsalta sericea, which is always the first to sing. That was on the 1st November at Shakespear Park and, looking back on my notes from previous years, this seems to be quite late for the first sericea – the earliest I’ve heard them is on 25th September at Muriwai in 2000 and usually they’ve begun to sing by mid-October.
The cicada in the photo is the sand dune cicada, Rhodopsalta leptomera, which is a very special cicada on Northland’s east coast between about Tawharanui and Shakespear Parks. Common on the west coast, this is the only place it appears on the east side of the island. It lives in the very narrow margin of sand dune vegetation between high tide and either mown/grazed grass or bush which on the inland side. In many places it has disappeared because of farm grazing or urbanisation but within the Auckland Regional Parks it seems to still be doing ok.