Bird watching, migration and predators: an education

Wanaka Primary School pupils (from left) Mika Roberts, Georgia Neill and Grace Letcher, all 8,...
Wanaka Primary School pupils (from left) Mika Roberts, Georgia Neill and Grace Letcher, all 8, enjoy spending a morning with the Wastebusters EnviroSchools programme at Albert Town lagoon with Wanaka Primary School. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Dozens of Wānaka Primary School pupils spent a sunny morning at the Albert Town lagoon last week, as community educators shared their knowledge of the local history and environment.

The Wānaka Wastebusters’ Enviroschool Programme joined forces with Wai Wānaka, Te Kakano trust and Southern Lakes Sanctuary to present a series of mini-workshops and activities focusing on Māori migration, birdlife, predator trapping and native planting programmes.

Wānaka Primary School teacher Danielle Meyer-Budge said the children from pod four (years 3 and 4) were studying the New Zealand history curriculum, looking at how the local area was settled by early Māori and learning how to make the kind of shoes early Māori travellers wore.

Wai Wānaka facilitator Jaylene Harper is a keen bird watcher in her spare time and was among the community educators sharing their love of the lagoon habitat.

"Birding has become quite popular for people, not just because you can see birds but because it is a way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle.

"You can often find me here with my binocular watching birds," she said.

She helped children identify native and introduced birds at the lagoon.

Bird identification was not just a matter of looking at the water or in trees and plants around the lagoon.

It was also important to close your eyes and listen for the bird song, she said.

Birds at the lagoon included pīwakawaka (fantail), tui, shags, American shovellers, ducks and herons.