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Otari Event 12th and 13th March 2019

Arihia, from Enviroschools Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui- Greater Wellington
organised by Enviroschools Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui- Greater Wellington, included an outdoor pollination game.

Arihia (pictured) worked on a version, based on Flight of Pollen. With the able assistance of the Otari School Bush Guides, over the two days, and with students from 8 schools, we played it a total of 14 times.

Showing great persistence, the Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui Facilitors, have been working (with me), on a LARP (Live Action Role Play) version of the game, for quite a while.

We played at Otari Wiltons Bush, on the Troup lawn. Surrounding the lawn is a botannical ‘zoo’ containing the forest that once covered much of Wellington. Only one percent of native forest remains on the Wellington peninsula.
and half of that surrounded us(!)

While we ‘pollinated’ on the lawn, flying insects checked us out. And, as part of the event, students also saw pollen and gecko skin under microscope.

Feedback from students and teachers: ‘ I didn’t know that pollinators had to work so hard!’, ‘fun’, ‘exciting’, and ‘let’s play it back at school’

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Rivers as barriers

RATS in Cloak of Protection
even quite small rivers are an effective barrier to possum migration. So found ZIP (Zero Invasive Predators), in 2017, when they ran a trial in Remutaka Forest Park.

Last year, a similar trial began in the Perth River valley, to measure whether or not larger rivers are also an effective barrier to the migration of rats.

By 19 February 2019, after more than seven months of continuous bio-marking and trapping, confidence has grown. Trials were run across winter (where the river levels are lowest; the water is at its coldest; and rat breeding and dispersal activity is low), and across spring/summer (when the river levels rise as snow and ice melts; and rat breeding and movement increases).

“We are very encouraged by this promising result!” say the team.

Maybe, just maybe, some rats don’t like getting their feet wet!?

More information at Zero Invasive Predators Assessing the Perth River (and Scone Creek) as a barrier to rats

In Cloak of Protection, there are three rats: kiore; Norway; and Ship (shown).

Making Flight of Pollen we learnt that the endangered sort-tailed bat / pekapeka (which is a phenomenal pollinator), has had much of its role in our Native bush, taken over by the Ship rat – when the rat doesn’t eat everything in sight ie the whole flower (of course)!

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We had bumblebees

Bumble bee (top right)
living in our Isilkul apartment, back in the 1960s, writes V. S. Grebennikov in My World. There he often observed the following. . .

. . .A young bumblebee on its first trip away from the hive did not take the trouble to remember the entrance and would spend hours wandering around the windows of our house and of a similar-looking house nearby.

And in the evening, giving up on its poor visual memory, it would land on the brick wall, precisely outside the hive and would try to break right through it. How did the insect know that right there, four metres away from the entrance, and a metre and a half below, behind the thick, half-metre wall was its home nest?

Based on the structure of bee nests, I created a few dozen artificial honeycombs – of plastic, paper, metal, and wood. It turned out that the cause of all those unusual sensations was not a biological field, but the size, shape, number, and the arrangement of caverns formed by any solid objects.

I called the discovery the Cavernous Structures Effect (CSE). . .and the CSE cannot be shielded – it affects living organisms through walls, thick metal, and other screens. It does not decrease evenly with distance, but surrounds the honeycomb with a system of invisible, yet sometimes clearly perceivable “shells”.

Even clocks – both mechanical and electronic-placed in a strong CSE field start running inaccurately – time must also have a part in it. Back in the 20s the French physicist Louis des Broglie was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of these waves, and they were used in electronic microscopes.

This, and more, at http://www.keelynet.com/greb/greb.htm

The bumblebee is an important pollinator in Flight of Pollen. She gets up and gets going early, flies in the wind, and can sleep outdoors overnight. . .

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a stoat hunt is underway

as Auckland Council and DOC rally their teams on Great Barrier Island/Aotea. A potential sighting has set off alarm bells and sparked an immediate incursion response.

DOC Operations Manager George Taylor said, “with the speed stoats can cover the ground, it is vital to get on their trail as early as possible.

“Getting a positive indication of stoat presence from the dog is the fastest way for us to know if we have a problem and to start planning how to deal with it.”

Great Barrier Island, which was considered free of stoats, has significant populations of endangered birds that would be easy prey.

Stoats travel far and fast. One young female tagged in the Egglington Valley on 20 December 1990 was killtrapped at Burwood Bush, 65 km away, on January 1991.

In Cloak of Protection, the stoat is a devastating predator – making giant holes in the strongest of Cloaks!

Date: 10 January 2019
Source: Auckland City Council

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Putting bees and honeysuckle

on eco bags seemed like a good idea for Christmas /Summer Solstice presents

It’s all part of our environmental focus, and our education in sustainable choices.

The bees – native black, honey, and bumble – visit the flowers in Flight of Pollen and it’s a joy to see them out (along with the hoverfly) visiting flowers this summer. I learnt so much / observe with new eyes since creating this game.

It’s also a joy to be carrying them on a tote bag into the supermarket!!

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the kākāpō breeding season

this summer is expected to be the biggest we’ve ever known.

That’s because we’re having the biggest rimu mast that’s ever been recorded.

Rimu mast (seed fruiting in large amounts) is the trigger for the female kākāpō on Codfish Island/Whenua Hou (about three kilometres north-west of Stewart Island/Rakiura), and on Anchor Island/Puke Nui (in Fiordland’s Dusky Sound) to come, answer the boys booming. Finally joining them to dance in their sounding bowls!

These Islands are home to New Zealand’s main populations of kākāpō. The third Island is Te Hauturu-o-Toi/Little Barrier Island, in the Hauraki Gulf.

There are 148 kākāpō and the population is slowly increasing. But the likeable parrots face lots of problems. The biggest is infertility.

Kākāpō and takahē expert Andrew Digby, a DOC scientist says that, “Only about half of the eggs hatch, and only about a third of the eggs that are laid turn into chicks that fledge.”

Last year, for example, there were 122 eggs laid but only 34 chicks fledged.

That makes mast years like next year of huge importance. Digby says, “It’s going to be a big one for us.”

One that will bring out the girls!

Thanks to the undaunting efforts of the Department of Conservation, in Cloak of Protection, Kākāpō remain in the FOREST realm, and have not joined the EXTINCT realm.

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First takahē eggs for Kahurangi

Takahe eggs
Image: DOC
The pitter patter of little takahē feet is on the cards at Kahurangi National Park. DOC reports that the first eggs of the new wild population have been found at Gouland Downs off the Heaphy Track, only the second wild site for takahē.

Today it is exactly 70 years since takahē were rediscovered in the Murchison mountains of Fiordland.

As a student, one of my holiday jobs was working at the Murrell Accomodation in Manapouri. Old man Murrell told me that he had been one of the group that lead Orbell up into the mountains on that day.

He also laughed and claimed that they knew of the existence of the birds long before this. I wonder?

Never-the-less, we mark today as the 70th year of their rediscovery.

Takahē in Cloak of Protection belong in Tane’s Forest Realm. The work of The Takahē Recovery Programme means that they did not join Hine Nui Te Po in the realm of the extinct.

Seventy years on they remain with us, and are now laying eggs in the wild in two locations.