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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!

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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???

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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!!

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at the Invercargill Museum (& Art Gallery)

aptornisQuite often I get asked about the adzebill. Did this bird really REALLY exist?

Oh yes – I say – I’ve seen the bones of one in the Invercargill Museum.

So, this January I went for a hunt in their Natural History section. As you can see in the photo, it isn’t all the bones, but enough to put together a model.

The label Aptornis, refers to its Latin name. I’ve added Morgan’s illustration below for a fleshed-out comparison.
adzebill

Adzebill were as large as a small moa, flightless, with a massive down-curved bill.

In Cloak of Protection they are both extinct and predator. They were hunted by: kiore; dog; & the human hunter.

In turn they hunted: tara-iti (fairy tern); tara (white-fronted tern); hoiho (yellow-eyed penguin); tutikiwi (snipe); kiwi; & whio (blue duck).

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looking for a retail store?

tuturiwhatu/NZ dotterel SEA bird
tuturiwhatu/NZ dotterel
SEA bird
If you’re looking for a retail store to purchase Cloak of Protection these summer hols – we’ve finally added a list. At the bottom of the BUY page.

Here’s Morgan’s illustration of tuuturiwhatu, the NZ dotterel. Found (when not breeding) on the beaches of the northern North Island, on the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, & above the bushline of Stewart Island.

All good places to be this summer!

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with the bees

DSCF0027_2It’s the Christmas break & here I am working at the Honey shop in Lindale.

Behind me is the bee hive. There’s been an explosion of bees & activity, now that summer is here.

This week I’ve seen the queen laying eggs – her long tail hovering over the cells carefully prepared by her daughters. So awesome: seeing this for real!

Some of her brood is now capped off & we’re watching to see when they’ll emerge as new bees.

The hive teams with potential!