Monday, 19 March 2018

What I’m Reading - Summer 2018

Where Song Began: Australia's birds and how they changed the world by Tim Low

Who’d have thought a non-fiction book on birds would be a page-turner! Turns out this one is. Tim Low has a pacy style of writing, and he’s not shy about putting forward his opinions. It’s great to find serious non-fiction with a popular pull. The last book I read like this was The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohleben, a best-seller around the world but with a definite Northern Hemisphere focus. Putting Australian birds at the centre of the bird world might not be popular in the Northern Hemisphere, but for a fellow antipodean this was refreshing. I loved the scope of this book, starting with the intriguing business of sugar feeding birds, the book spanned bird evolution, ecology, and conservation issues. I was left gasping for breath at the end.  There are plenty of mentions of New Zealand birds and those interested in finding out more would find a good companion read in be recently revised Ghosts of Gondwana by George Gibbs.  There are a few photos in the book but those not familiar with Australian birds might be disappointed there aren’t more. Still it’s easy to look up birds in a field guide or App as you read along. I’ll definitely be packing this book on my next trip to Australia, it’ll be a perfect re-read while I’m listening to raucous cockatoos and honeyeaters.

The Fly Trap by Frederick Sjoberg

Lent to me by a friend, this pleasant read is proof even hover flies can be interesting. It seems insect collectors are contemplative people noticers and what better place than a Swedish island. His contemplations about local encounters of people and hover flies are interspersed with some literary reflections and a biography of sorts of Malaise, a Swedish entomologist. Malaise invented an insect trap, hence the title of the book. A delightful read for those who enjoy nature writing.

Monday, 12 March 2018

A Coastal Walk - animals that I see in Pukerua Bay

After writing about the plants of my coastal pathway in my last blogpost, Cyclone Gita blew in. Extraordinarily high seas washed away much of the pathway and deposited massive piles of driftwood on what was left. Plants on the sea side of the path have mostly died, but not all.  I hope they are resilient.
Driftwood covers the path
Taking this path, very occasionally right around to Plimmerton, but usually to the Pukerua Bay Scientific Reserve and back, I've had the privilege of seeing many different animals, some unexpected.
Fur seals make occasional appearances along the coast
It's only recently that I've attempted to photograph them. More often than not I only have my phone camera handy. Photos are a good way to convey an animals features or behaviour to others. We get instant recognition, responding with an "Ah yes that's what I saw on my beach" or "how amazing who knew gulls would do that?"

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

A Coastal Walk - naming the plants

Volunteer work takes me for a walk along the coast several mornings a month in summer.  Walking the same path, day after day, isn't dull or a chore. 
The path along the coast, white-faced heron ahead
Each day, I see something different, depending perhaps on the weather or the tide, or I see something differently. Sometimes there are big changes: a storm leaves soft-bodied jelly fish and bright orange sponges stranded on the beach and covers the path with driftwood. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Nature Kids - Making Zines to Spread the Word

Crazy about kākāpō? Curious about kauri? Amazed by animal poo? Wild about weka? If you are a nature fan, you can make a zine to share your passion. 

Zine is short for 'fanzine' - these self-published creations started out as homemade books by fans about their favourite bands. But they can be on any topic that you are crazy about. I got inspired to try making zines when I met Murtle Chickpea and her Zine Museum at the Wairarapa Book Bash. Here is one of the zines...