Monday, 23 March 2020

Stay at Home Nature Travel - Reading Recommendations

Right now people all around the world are hunkering down, travel plans cancelled, trips and events off. Those of us lucky enough to live among nature or close to wild places can still get out and about on solitary bird counts, or hikes where we distance ourselves from our companions. But some journeys or places we might have hoped to visit can now only be enjoyed from afar and preferably through a good book. Yes, you can watch nature documentaries or real-life adventure films but the are over in an evening and won't keep you engaged for as long as a good book can.

From my recent Nature reading list, here are some recommendations for nature journeys, each told from a unique personal perspective.  Experience the fungi in the woods of Norway, the migratory route of snow geese through North America, the wild Orkney Islands, a camel trek through central Australia and the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand.

The Way Through the Woods: of mushrooms and mourning by Long Litt Woon 
(translated into English by Barbara J. Haveland 2019)

The author describes The Way Through The Woods as telling "two parallel journeys: an outer one, into the realm of mushrooms, and an inner one, through the landscape of mourning." Malaysian born Long Litt Woon has lived her adult life in Norway. While mourning the early death of her Norwegian husband, she found herself drawn into the European pastime of collecting edible fungi. 'Mushrooms and mourning' may sound like a strange combination, but this is no contrived book of an author seeking a vehicle for her story. It's an authentic journey; interweaving strands of discovery both personal and about the natural world.

The epiphany Long Litt Woon describes of seeing with new eyes, will ring true for anyone who has started to learn the ways of nature.  "A walk through the woods is a very different experience when undertaken armed with new knowledge, however limited it may be. Suddenly I was seeing mushrooms everywhere, fungi that I would have walked past before, blending as they did into the landscape. Now they were popping out at me in 3D, as if I'd been given special glasses to see them." The Way Through the Woods is full of such insights and new ways of experiencing the natural world - a whole chapter is given over to the odour of fungi, for example.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Whio School - visiting the whio creche in Tongariro

I've admired whio (also called blue duck) ever since I encountered them at Blue Lake. High in the mountains, this lake is only accessible to trampers after several days journey. Consequently I think of them as rare and hard to find - and it's true, there are only around 3000 left in New Zealand. These unique ducks are adapted to life on fast flowing rivers.
Whio, the Māori name resembles the male's call
Blue duck, the English name refers to the slate blue-grey colour,
So when the opportunity to visit the whio creche at Tongariro National Trout Centre came up, I was delighted. My enthusiasm led to us being too early! The car park gate was shut and the centre not yet open. With time on our hands, we drove on to Red Hut Bridge to take a quick look at the Tongariro River. From this lovely old bridge, we looked down and saw to our amazement two whio feeding in the river right under the bridge. It took us awhile to realise what we were looking at, they are so well camouflaged. (If the video below doesn't play, try a different browser.)

Friday, 10 January 2020

Octopus Colouring Sheet and other nature crafts

Running out of kids' activities for the holidays?

Thanks to illustrator Fraser Williamson, each of the "Whose?" books has a matching activity which helps extend the children's thinking about the book concepts.

Whose Beak is This? has a kākā mask to colour and make; Whose Feet are These? has a gecko to colour and add some 'sticky' feet; now there is a colouring sheet for Whose Home is This? based on the colourful illustration of wheke, the octopus.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

At the Beach in New Zealand - explore and discover what lives there

"At the Beach" includes a lift-out identification card
"At the Beach: explore and discover the New Zealand seashore" was published in 2012 and is now a New Zealand Bestseller. The book comes with a lift-out (double-sided) identification card in the inside back cover. This is very popular, as it can be taken to the beach separately from the book. Unfortunately it can also get easily lost! I've noticed school and library copies often have it removed too. so Ned and I thought it should be available as PDF for schools and libraries to print out.