On the 5th of November, Lily and I travelled to the Totara Reserve for a Conservation Day. Before arrival, we travelled through an example of New Zealand’s native bush. What we saw was what our region used to be. Arriving on site, we were greeted and sent off to our activities.
Our first stop was the Forest Life Station. We learnt about different species living at Totara Reserve, including the bugs and the birds. Like the Horizons scientists, we undertook a five minute bird count. Lily and I heard and saw magpies, fantails, rock pigeons and, surprisingly, a cockatoo.
Next, we made our way to the Plant Identification Station. Here we went on a walk through the bush to find ourselves in front of the biggest stinging beetle I’d ever seen. We also learnt about how to identify species of ferns and podocarps.
The Predators Station was extremely interesting as we discovered how we catch pests. These include possums, ferrets, certain cats, rats, mice and stoats. We got to see a trap set off and how quickly the predator is killed. Out of a lunchbox came a frozen ferret and rat that had been squished by this trap; a shock to us all!
Over a barbecue lunch, we were informed about weeds and how they can affect the native forest. Most of them came about because, years ago, someone wanted a little colour in our forest. They strangle the bush and cause it to collapse, demolishing wildlife in the area.
Last but not least, we headed down to the river to take part in the Freshwater Station. We learnt how to identify invertebrates and discovered what happens beneath the water surface. The best part about this station was when our instructors stunned (electrocuted) some fish in the stream. This caused their muscles to tighten and let them float into the net. They managed to catch a baby trout!
This experience is one I’ll never forget. Lily and I learnt an incredible amount on this conservation trip and it will be great applying this knowledge to everyday life.
Charlotte, Year 8