Week 3

Today I was invited on a field trip with students from Green River University in Seattle. We started our day at Maungakiekie or One Tree Hill, exploring the calderas and looking at the formation of the volcano and the remains of kumara pits from the Maori habitation on the hill. I learnt that the Auckland Volcanic Field has 53 volcanoes! 

After One Tree Hill we headed West to the Arataki Visitor Centre in the Waitakere Ranges. What a view! The Waitakeres have lots of native flora and fauna - North Island Kokako, Tuis, Bellbirds, Fantails, Kauri Trees - just to name a few. Ark in the Park is a community organisation that works very hard to keep the Waitakeres pest free through trapping and tracking. 

From Arataki we drove out to the Cascade Trail in the Waitakeres and we went for a one hour walk. I saw a lot of native NZ trees - Mahoe, kawakawa, Kauri, Rimu, Lancewood, Whiteywood. When we entered the Waitakeres we had to make sure we gave our shoes a really good clean with the disinfectant provided. This is to stop a disease called Kauri Dieback, which is killing off the Kauri Trees. This is a fungus-like disease. Microscopic spores in the soil infect the Kauri roots and damage the tissue that delivers nutrients to the tree. Scientist are working to find a way to treat this but at the moment there is no cure! So we need to make sure we clean our shoes before we go in and out of the Kauri forest to ensure we are not carrying the spores in tiny bits of soil on our shoes. 


Luckily for us the sun came out and we headed to Muriwai to observe the Gannet Colony. There are only 3 gannet colonies on the mainland, and Auckland is the most accessible colony. You can get very close to the birds. Birds lay a single egg in October/November, so today there were lots of fluffy chicks! Some of them were just started to test their wings. In March most of these chicks will fly off to Australia, and they won't come back for 4-6 years! That's a long time. Gannets are very good divers, they dive down into the water to catch fish. 


This week I've sat in on a couple of very interesting lectures on Biogeography, and learnt many interesting facts about New Zealand's fauna and flora. Do you know what flora and fauna means? Flora = all the plants, Fauna = animals (birds, fish, insects, mammals).

I'm sure you all know the name of the bird below. Here's a wee quiz - look closely, what do you see that you don't often see on other birds? (hint... cats have them too). Now, pop quiz! Why do kiwi's have these?? Think carefully about where they live, what they do, how they live. 
Email me your answers leannew@staff.matipo.school.nz. First correct answer gets a chocolate fish! :)