Garden bird survey: 30 June – 8 July 2018

Fantail

There are birds in my garden. Lots of them. I’m not an overly keen gardener, so birds, bees and insects love our place. Wax-eyes love the flowers and silver beet that have gone to seed. Other birds like scratching up the mossy lawn looking for worms. I love the sound of birdsong. Especially the bird that flies to the top of my neighbour’s garden and sings. I didn’t know that birds are an important indicator of the health of our environment.

You can participate in this citizen science project. There are lots of activities and resources to help you identify birds. For creative kids, there is colouring in, masks to make and quizzes to do.

You may be wondering why we count garden birds, especially introduced species. We learn about the health of our towns and cities. Scientists can’t do this on their own. They need you. We need a good picture of the birds in our country. The more people counting birds, the more we learn about our bird population. Doing the survey is fairly easy. Print out the tally sheet and choose a day that suits you. Find a comfortable spot to sit (either inside or outside). Look and listen for one hour. For each type of bird, record the highest number seen at one time. Use Landcare’s online form to enter your count.

Fantastic! You have just helped scientists understand our bird population.

To help you with identifying birds and encouraging birds to visit your garden, here is my list of recommended books.

Cover of Attracting birds and other wildlife to your garden in New ZealandCover of The field guide to the Birds of New ZealandCover of Birds of New ZealandCover of A photographic guide to birds of New ZealandCover of All about New Zealand birdsCover of A mini guide to the identification of New Zealand's land birdsCover of Which New Zealand bird?

New Zealand Garden bird survey: 30 June – 8 July 2018

List created by Valerie_L

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Podcast – Food waste

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

If food waste were a country, it would be the third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States. Added to this immense environmental impact is the social impact: How much food is thrown away that could be eaten?

Join our guests as they share statistics and information about the various ways in which they work to repurpose food waste and save it from landfill.

Guests:

Transcript – Food waste

Find out more in our collection

Cover of Waste: Uncovering the global food scandal Cover of The waste not want no cookbook Cover of Scrap wilt and weeds Cover of American wasteland Cover of Too good to waste Cover of Leftover gourmet Cover of Eat it up Cover of My zero-waste kitchen Cover of How to make and use compost Cover of This book stinks Cover of Making a meal of itCover of Waste free kitchen handbookCover of Food waste

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

A natural quartet

I’ve recently been delving into some “recreational non-fiction” reading!

Recreational non-fiction is what you might call stories based on fact that read as easily as a novel. This can be particularly true of memoir or biographies, and I’ve come across four such titles that I would like to recommend to you, the Christchurch reading public!

They’re all based around the topic of the natural world, they all read like adventure tales, and they all have a common link; the idea that we should all spend more time in and around nature, observe, engage, and enjoy.

We certainly don’t all need to go to the extreme lengths that these authors do – you don’t, for example, need to be the man responsible for dangling Sir David Attenborough 180ft in the upper canopy of one of the world remotest rainforests! You also don’t need to chase errant wild stags through the outskirts of London during the storm of the decade! And you definitely don’t need to be the man behind the push for Cpt. William Bligh to set off on his ill-fated voyage in the Bounty to take breadfruit from the Pacific Islands and take it to the Americas as cheap fodder for slave owners!

No, we can just sit back on a sunny spring day and enjoy stories of nature and travel, real stories told by real people who actually wrote the words themselves (apart from Linnaeus and Banks of course, their stories are ably told by Oxford historian Patricia Fara)

A Natural Quartet

List created by DevilStateDan

Four books about the natural world that you just can’t miss!

Cover of Sex, Botany and EmpireSex, Botany & Empire

The amazing story behind two giant names in natural science; Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks. Just how great were they? Were they true champions of natural science, conservation, and preservation? Or were they subject to their own particular biases and egos in their work, striving to become something more than they were..? This book is a great insight and a brilliant read, giving context to the lives and journeys of these two names so famous now that we forget how recent their work actually is!

Cover of The man who climbs treesThe Man Who Climbs Trees

This is a series of stories that follows a man around the globe as he climbs some of the tallest trees in the world! He regularly works for the BBC to help produce some of the amazing images of the flora and fauna to be found in forest canopies seen in their Planet Earth series, he has a brilliant outlook on nature and conservation, and is a very talented storyteller – his tales read like boys-own adventures as he navigates all kinds of perils (weather, insects, primates, you name it!) to provide safe vertical passage through the forests of the world. If you like the natural world then this is a memoir too good to miss!

Cover of Adventures of a young naturalistAdventures of A Young Naturalist

The story of David Attenborough’s fist major nature assignment as he travels into remote parts (pre-internet or mobile phone coverage!) to obtain vision of some of the creatures of the earth that humans have only ever read about in books. Written by the man himself, his voice is clear and present in every word as he deals with the perils of travelling the wilds of the earth for the betterment of natural science.

Cover of Park lifePark Life

John Bartram stands as the longest serving gamekeeper of the illustrious and ecologically-fragile Richmond Park – a secluded nature reserve in the midst of the busyness of London. He tells of his journey to get to the job and the lifetime of work and memories he has obtained along the way. It is written in a very matter-of-fact manner which serves well to remind the reader that nature is on our doorstep and to stop now and then to treasure it.

And if these stories have piqued your interest in the natural world but you’re wanting to read more about OUR natural world, then perhaps try one of these beaut magazines available through Christchurch City Libraries… they’re full of the same fascination and excitement of discovery as the old stories but with the added advantage that they’re the stories of our own generation, in and of our own region.

Jane Goodall sows seeds of hope

Jane Goodall
Conservationist and author Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is coming to Christchurch!

This is the chance of a lifetime to hear the hero of many; a champion for animals in Africa.

Goodall is known for her work to save Chimpanzees. She has done this by living with them and sharing information about their plight with the rest of the world. Like Jacques Cousteau and Sir David Attenborough she is one of the early pioneers of conservation.

In her new book, Seeds of Hope, Jane champions the cause of plants. A spiritual call to humankind to avert the looming crisis in nature, backed with scientific authority. Jane reminds us that all animals are reliant on the delicate balance of flora and fauna, at risk from factory farming, destruction of habitats and genetic engineering.

Incredibly decorated, (thirty three awards at last count), Dame Jane’s accolades include the Order of the Golden Ark (1980) for World Wildlife Conservation, The Encyclopaedia Brittannica Award (1989) for Excellence on the Dissemination of Learning for the Benefit of Mankind), the Rainforest Alliance Champion Award (1993), the Commander of the Order or the British Empire (1995) and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science (2003) to name a few.

Sadly, An Evening With Jane Goodall, at the beautifully restored Isaac Theatre, has sold out. However, Seeds of Hope is available in several formats from Christchurch City Libraries.

Water: Alok Jha – WORD Christchurch

How often do you think about water? Every now and again when you suspect the hot water cylinder might not manage another dishwasher load? Occasionally when you note how much a bottle of it costs at the dairy?

Alok Jha
Alok Jha (image supplied)

Journalist (and ITV science correspondent) Alok Jha suggests that we should all be paying a bit more attention to this miraculous and yet thoroughly prosaic substance. After all our planet is “a blob of water with a few dry patches”. It’s one of the most important things on our planet and all life relies on it. Worth more than a passing thought, once in a while, surely?

In order to turn us to his way of thinking he provides us with an background on the science of water. Had any of us considered, for instance, how the water on our planet actually got here?

I’m someone who considers herself to have a good imagination but I’d honestly never wondered this. Water just is. I think I’d assumed it had always just been here, but water is actually younger than our planet.

Cover of The water bookIt started in space in clouds of dust and gas from stars that have gone supernova. This is where our oxygen comes from. The hydrogen part of the equation originates with the Big Bang. Some molecules bash together with some grains of cosmic detritus and then some more and some more and if you follow that chain of events long enough you end up with chunks of ice – asteroids and comets that about 4 billion years ago bombarded our planet (only for about 500 million years – just a passing storm) and resulted in all the surface water we have on planet Earth. So next time you take a dip in the ocean or drink a glass of water, consider that that stuff used to be hurtling, frozen, through space.

Jha also pointed out some really interesting qualities that water has. Firstly that in solid form it floats on its liquid form. Hence icebergs. Most substances don’t behave this way. Usually the solid form is more dense and sinks. This is actually crucially important for life on Earth because if ice didn’t float then during an ice age all life would get killed off instead of some of it living on underneath the frozen surface where some liquid water remains.

The other important thing about water is surface tension. Water is sticky and loves sticking to itself too and this surface tension allows for certain biological processes, like a plant’s ability to, against the force of gravity, draw water upwards through very thin tubes, or the way our capillaries can transport our mostly watery blood around our bodies.

All these things we take for granted, most certainly at our peril.

Jha was at pains to point out that the quantity of water on our planet isn’t the issue. It’s essentially a closed system. The same amount of water moves through us, around the earth, into the atmosphere and so on. Rather it’s the quality at issue. Water that’s of the type that can sustain us is rather less common and becoming less so.

Polluting water is easy, unpolluting it? Well, that doesn’t happen much.

Jha’s talk involved things as varied as –

  • Cute photos of antarctic penguins and seals (cynical manipulation via cute animal appeal openly admitted to)
  • Official confirmation that drinking your own urine is “a bad idea”
  • A stomach churning illustration of why Jha was so seasick on his Antarctic voyage (see the horizon line in the photo below)
Alok Jha illustrates how seasickness happens
Alok Jha illustrates how seasickness happens, Flickr File Reference: 2016-08-26-IMG_2477

But the main idea was that the only way for us to take better care of our water resources is for a larger number of us to actually be more aware of them, of how much water we use and how vital it is for our survival. For us to all just stop taking it for granted.

Cover of 50 ways the world could endMore WORD Christchurch

 

All creatures great and small – celebrate World Animal Day 2015

Cover of Brother Sun, Sister MoonWorld Animal Day is an international day of animal rights. It is held annually on 4th October, on the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.

On this day, some churches have the blessing of the animals. I don’t have any experience with this, but if the Vicar of Dibley is anything to go by, it’s a bit chaotic.

On a more serious note, it is good to know that (even in 13th century Italy) someone was sticking up for the animals. Animals need our help and protection, whether they be family pets, farm animals, zoo animals, or animals living in the great-out-doors.

Organizations such as SPCA, Cats Protection League, Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird and our own Christchurch City Council all champion the right for animals to have a good life.

For those who want more, we have a selection of books on animal rights. If you are a pet owner, check out our books on pet care. If your interest is wild animals, our collection of books on wildlife conservation will be of interest.

To get involved with other animal lovers, search for the specific animal you are interested in in our CINCH directory.

Cover of Why Animals Matter Cover of A New Zealand Book of Beasts Cover of All Creatures Great and Small Cover of The Ten Trusts

Urban Living Wall: engaging new interest in conservation

Kia ora – Danny blogged in March about the Innovative collaboration and a Living wall. This post comes from Elizabeth Guthrey of DOC and she updates us on what is happening with the Urban Living Wall

The Urban Living Wall was launched on Friday 8 May at the corner of Cashel Street and High Street in Christchurch. This green wall is revolutionary; native rocky outcrop plants are housed in 3D printed planter panels made by schools in the area, with design and production led by the Fab lab Chch.

Urban Living Wall

This project is a unique opportunity for schools, communities, companies and individuals to be involved in some of the public spaces in our city. Students are able to learn how to use 3D printers whilst producing something for a tangible project that can be appreciated by the wider public. Some schools are even getting the idea to design their own and follow this concept for a small living wall on their campus.

This project also invites individuals and companies to make a donation towards a 3D printed planter panel with our PledgeMe campaign running until Monday 8 June.

The wall also includes wooden panels for plants to grow over. A felt material from a recycled wool carpet underlay by Cavalier Bremworth was also cut and sewn to make larger planter pockets, with the same swooping design as the rest of the wall. These turned out to be fast and cheap to make, and anyone can easily make these kinds at home with a sturdy sewing machine. We are yet to see how well they perform in retaining water in the hydroponic mix. The launch marks the establishment of the first 8 metres of wall, which will be continually added to until it covers 20 meters of the fence structure.

Urban Living Wall

The South Learning Centre has been a contributor to producing the 3D printed planter panels with their 3D printer.

The Urban Living Wall is a collaborative project between the Department of Conservation, Christchurch City Council, Auckland University Institute of Technology, the Fab Lab Chch, Christchurch Schools and communities. Join in and pledge a planter!

Elizabeth Guthrey
DOC

National Geographic Magazine: online, just for you

When I say National Geographic what do you see? I bet the first image that comes to mind is a bright yellow border! You do not have to be an avid reader of this magazine to get a picture of it in your mind. When something becomes legendary, its reputation precedes it, and this is the case with National Geographic.

Christchurch City Libraries now offers you online access to the National Geographic Virtual Library which contains access to every article, map and photo in this publication. This library begins with the first issue in 1888 until the second most recent issue. I defy anyone to start browsing through the pages of beautiful National Geographic covers and not lose a few hours enjoying all the content there is on offer including:

  • Award winning articles on cultures, nature, science and the environment;
  •  High quality photojournalism (clever pictures that tell stories);
  •  Stunning cartography (nice maps);
  •  A huge feel good factor as you are reading something entertaining but also educational while helping support an organisation that encourages research and conservation!

You can access this product 24/7 from home or within libraries using your library and number and PIN through the Source or the library catalogue.

Prepare to be amazed, amused and inspired!!

Whaling – Current and Historical

into the heart of whalingJapan’s controversial whaling programme is in the news again this week with the whaling fleet’s departure for the Southern waters under the guise of a “scientific expedition”.  The library has several books about whaling and the ongoing struggle to prevent it, such as Harpoon : into the heart of whaling, Troubled waters : the changing fortunes of whales and dolphins, and The whaling season : an inside account of the struggle to stop commercial whaling, or try the International Whaling Commission’s website for more information.

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