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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.

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NZ’s sneeziest plants

Karamu male hangs so that the wind can pick up his pollen
are the ones let loose huge amounts of male pollen. The female positions herself downwind and catches his pollen grains from the air!

It’s a very ancient way. And in this windy country, with strong westerly winds, it works!
Our sneeziest plants are the introduced: gorse, macrocarpa, plantain, pine trees, olive, meadow foxtail grass, and privet.

In Flight of Pollen the native tree miro, and the native bush karamu, let fly huge amounts of pollen too …

It’s a long season of sniffles and sneezes for us!? A-tish-ho! A-tish-ho!

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World-leading eradication on Antipodes Island

Image: WWF-New Zealand and Island Conservation

Million Dollar Mouse was one of the most complex island eradication projects ever undertaken, and now we know it was successful.

Recent monitoring on Antipodes Island has confirmed that native birds and insects can thrive, free from predation and competition from mice and other mammals.

A successful Cloak of Protection is now made – by a team that included DOC, the Morgan Foundation, WWF-New Zealand, Island Conservation and us, the New Zealand public.

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birds can “see” earth’s magnetic fields

the evidence is strong. It seems that birds navigate by using a protein in their eyes that lets them “see” Earth’s magnetic fields.

The fancy eye protein is called Cry4. And it’s clustered in an area that receives a lot of light. Birds use the cryptochromes in their eyes to orient themselves by detecting magnetic fields

These findings come courtesy of two new papers – one studying robins, the other zebra finches.

Observations continue . .https://resonance.is/quantum-coherence-underlying-magnetoreception-avian-species-confirmed/

in FLIGHT OF POLLEN tui and korimako move around looking for
nectar, and later in the game kereru joins them in the hunt for berries

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we all have to eat

Mrs Thrush

Farmers and gardeners have been spraying their crops and flowers for years to protect them from pests.

We’re told that it has to be this way. Don’t believe it!

These pesticides harm and kill. Pollinating insects – gone. The small birds that feed on these insects – weakened, infertile. The larger birds that hunt the smaller birds (like karearea, our falcon) – birth eggs with shells so brittle, they break.

There are other ways to control our garden pests. For instance, Mrs Thrush. She eats slugs and snails. For free!

In Flight of Pollen, bees and hoverflies are important pollinators

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the Pollinator Crisis

seen any native bees lately?

is “off the charts, and downright scary.”

The Krefeld Entomological Society (est. 1905) has discovered huge declines in several observation sites throughout Western Europe.

In Australia, Jack Hasenpusch, an entomologist and owner of the Australian Insect Farm which collects swarms of wild insects, says: “. . . it’s left me dumbfounded, I can’t figure out what’s going on.”

Here in NZ, we’re still visited by moths at night, still finding bugs squashed on our car windscreens, still able to lie in an apple orchard and watch the hoverflies working, still able to visit a community garden in summer to watch oodles of native bees. . .

. . .and can even find a wild honeybee nest down where the free range chooks roam (which I did last week)

for now

for the full article, with source references:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/27/insect-decimation-upstages-global-warming/?mc_cid=15779e7147&mc_eid=115787945d