Principal Tiffany Ottley and her staff planned a School outing to thePoint Bush Ecosanctuary and we were all looking forward to hosting them.The sun was shining as 34 eager Waituna Creek School students spilled out of the bus for the start of their morning visit to the Point BushVisitor Centre and Ecosanctuary Forest exploration. On hand were Eco Project Volunteers Andrew Oliver and Ni Carter to lead the older students (aged 10 to 12 years) through a native plant and tree species identification with specimen leaves and a worksheet to take with theminto the Bush. The younger students engaged in a session of drawing their own creative leaf design before heading out to the Ecosanctuary, stopping en route to talk about the native cabbage trees and flaxes and listening to the Korimako (Bellbirds ) with their distinctive song diving in and out of the native trees. We listened to a recording of the 5 a.m. Dawn Chorus and talked about how the birds all wake up and celebrate the day with a choir of birdsong.
Everyone was encouraged to "Look closely at Nature" .... "Switch on your eyes, ears and sense of smell"....take a good look at the many different types of leaves, patterns, shapes and sizes. The youngsters were very observant and good at spotting lots of interesting things along the way including bright yellow Kowhai seeds, tiny Kahikatea seedlings, skeleton "ghost" leaves of the Whiteywood, fern spores on the underside of ferns. They listened to stories of how this was once a very big forest of native trees and hugged the giant Totara trees, trying to imagine how many hundred of years they had been growing.
The sun dappled track of the Whitehorse Walkway was cool under the canopy and out of the day's heat. The Bellbirds were in full voice and the Forest was at it's most impressive. We talked about the fencing outof wallabies and predators to protect the native birds, plants and trees and the fact that they were future "Eco Warriors"
We very much enjoyed sharing the forest with you all and look forward to continuing our liaison and future visits!