Posted on

mutton-birding

sooty shearwaterMutton-birding (titi/sooty shearwater) season started April 1 and finishes end of May.

Rakiura (Stewart Island) Maori, from our deep south, have rights to gather muttonbirds on 36 islands – the Titi Islands – around Rakiura.

Last year a lack of small fish such as krill, for the birds to feed on, meant many chicks died in their holes.

But good follows bad and this years season is looking better. The birds now being caught are a good size and the majority are healthy.

In Cloak of Protection titi are hunted by Norway rat (when it gets onto their islands) and, of course, the human hunter.

On another note, got the best feedback about Cloak of Protection yesterday. One of my friends is teaching years 5&6 in Manurewa, Auckland. She said ‘we tried & we tried to study NZ’s wildlife & we got nowhere. Then we played the game & the kids knew everything – birds, predators, the lot!’

Posted on

kiwi on Raikura

KiwiThere’s some Cloak of Protection games featuring in a competition in the latest i-site, News in Education, magazine.

Some of the pages in this edition ‘Our Amazing Environment’ are about Rakiura National Park (85% of Rakiura/Stewart Island), our newest national park & the southernmost park in the world.

Down there, some people go kiwi-spotting as there are around 25,000 birds. Kiwi often come out in family groups during daylight & even walk on the beaches!

There are no stoats, ferrets or weasels on the island.

But there are still possums, feral cats & rats – so traps have been set. There are plans in the near future to make the whole island pest-free.

Go Rakiura! That’s a massive island about to become predator free!

Posted on

growing the future in the school gardens

Setting up the Enviroshools tent
Setting up the Enviroshools tent
Here’s Karyn & Arihia setting up the Enviroschools tent at Kapiti’s Sustainable Home & Garden Show. Held last weekend in the glittering sun.

Among other events, there was Cloak of Protection being played inside (Enviroschools Wellington being my biggest supporter).

The theme this year was ‘Bees, butterflies and bugs’. There were fourteen gardens from local Early Childhood Centres, Primary Schools & Colleges.

At the centre of the school gardens ecosytems were alive! Bees joined us. Music wafted into our tent, chimes from one school, especially composed music from another.

Sunday afternoonHere’s a pic of Karyn (with Natalie, the local water educator) at the end of the weekend. She’s dancing outside our tent, among the school gardens.

Obviously we had a very good time!!

Posted on

skeletons & skulls

Caught up with Cloak of Protection illustrator Morgan Rothwell, at his home yesterday.

As I’ve always said, Morgan draws like he does, because he knows his creatures from the inside out.

Here he is with the inside of a cat! Part of his collection of skeletons & skulls.

As a child he had his own natural history museum – in the garden shed. Now it’s in his living room. Different country. Same habits!

Posted on

autumn on Waikanae Beach

toroaWalking down onto Waikanae Beach last evening, was looking skyward for the flock of black dots of titi (sooty shearwater) that have been around. . .

. . .when my attention was caught by a massive seagull. Well, that was my first thought until it unfurled long wings & folded them in again.

No seagull then!

I began tracking giant bird foot-prints toward the water’s edge. Webbed & as big as the palm of my hand. Dwarfing the dog-prints.

Closer – but, not too close – I found three birds distanced along water’s edge. They weren’t so keen on meeting me! One shuffled (on short-legs) into the water & landing a safe distance away, folded those giant wings into its body again.

So – here’s what I could see from my (short-sighted) distance. Pale curved petrel beak, white body, black back. Giant body on short legs.

Here’s a pic to toroa, who range throughout the NZ coast all year. Might have been???

Posted on

sparrow

house sparrowComing back from an early morning stroll on the beach – there I meet the mysterious dropper-off-of-bread for the sparrows.

Quite regularly there’s several packets worth of bread sitting on a steep grass verge. Great flocks chattering & chirping over it!

The bread seems to just appear regularly of it’s own accord(?)

Then the other morning there was the guy out of his bread truck, shaking out the left-over bags. He said he likes the sparrows to get the bread first, before the seagulls arrive.

Tiu (the house sparrow) were released here with high hopes, 1866 – 1871. Brought in from Europe (mainly England), they were to control insects on newly-planted crops.

That’s not what happened. Instead they ate up the farmer’s seeds. Gobbling up wheat, barley & maize!

You would have thought they’d be unpopular after that. But there we are – opening up packets of wheat, barley & corn bread, just for them.

No wonder that bird likes living around humans!

In Cloak of Protection tiu, the house sparrow, is hunted by cat & stoat.

Posted on

ruling on a rule change

Pandora SMALL
Last year we had (what I thought was) a fabulous suggestion for a rule change.

I see that I never reported this, or the outcome.

Rachel Eckersley, enviroschools co-ordinator Taranaki, suggested the following change:
When a predator is ‘Pandor-ed’ (ie given to another player via a Pandora) then that predator is removed from the pack for the rest of the game.

So, as part of a reward for the schools that had exceptional input during Game week (Sept 2013), I asked students if they thought this should become a rule of the game.

predatorVectorThe responses were (not all schools replied):

Dyer Street School “It was a close call but overall we voted for keeping the current rule. Interesting discussion though.” NO CHANGE

Marco School “We have discussed the change of rule and are unanimous with leave it alone. Because quote ‘we will run out of predators and takes away the fun of the game.’ NO CHANGE

We could say that Pukerua Bay School are already playing a version of this rule, so we’ll take that as a YES to the new rule

And from Enviroschools Wellington facilitator Gill Stewart YES & co-ordinator Karyn Burgess MAYBE YES

So I was never sure where that left us!? Feel free to try out the rule in a game & give me some feedback.

Posted on

the game has generated a life of its own!

Sasana play at the launch Jan 2012.  Morgan Rothwell, Cloak of Protection illustrator, is centre
Sasana play at the launch Jan 2012. Morgan Rothwell, Cloak of Protection illustrator, is centre
Home again & playing the game, last Saturday night with a bunch of primary-school teachers – I realized how much better the game has become since it first left my hands.

It’s morphed.

Partly it’s the Hundredth Monkey Principal.* But it’s more than that!

It’s as if Cloak of Protection has been played often enough, with real meaning, that it’s generated a life of its own!

ie the game now appears to have generated its own force-field! One which is due to all of you.

Scientists acknowledge that his can happen in a creative process.

Rupert Seldrake in his book A New Science of Life says “the creative process can be seen as a successive development of more complex and higher-level wholes, through previously separate things being connected together”.

I stand in awe & wonder.

*The Hundredth Monkey Principal was observed by Lyall Watson. After a group of monkeys on an island learned a new behaviour, suddenly other monkeys on other islands with no possible “normal” means of communication learnt that behaviour too. (Lifetide: The Biology of Consciousness)

Posted on

Orokonui ecosanctuary

saddlebackWending my way up the South Island, & staying in Dunedin, with my friend Gretchen, we drove out to beautiful Waitati. Then on the way home we popped into Orokonui ecosanctuary.

Gretchen & her mum had paid for a couple of posts in the predator-proof fence around the 307-hectare native forest. So helping create this mainland island. Here is the only Cloud Forest in New Zealand without threat from introduced pests.

Being a mainland island presents new difficulties. Tieke, the saddleback, were released there in 2009 and the end of 2012.

But a lot of the saddlebacks and their offspring left the sanctuary, leaving only a few behind to breed.

‘We didn’t expect that, as they are not great fliers, but saddlebacks need a large territory and there’s nothing to stop them flying over the fence.’ So Conservation manager Elton Smith said in the Otago Daily Times, 16/1/14.

‘But all remaining pairs are expected to produce a second clutch and some might even have three. . .we’re hoping for well over 30 fledglings for the season, which will be a fantastic result.’

Saddlebacks don’t occur anywhere on the mainland without predator control so the ecosanctuary is the only place to find them, other than offshore islands.

In Cloak of Protection tieke, the saddleback, is hunted by kiore, ship rat, cat & stoat. Needs an extremely good fence to keep that lot out!!