Next on the field trip agenda was a drive up to Napier. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed relaxing on the beach eating our lunches. We extramurals had already formed quite a bond and I enjoyed some quiet convo with a group as we ate. It was a real highlight of the whole weekend for me, meeting all the other extramurals. We all have this passionate interest that has led us to enrol in this paper, and it was wonderful to meet some of the others who are also studying in isolation at home.
We had a visit to the Napier Aquarium, and our huge group divided into 3. We had a talk with question time about how the place is run; we got a 'behind the scenes' tour where we got to see the suction and water squirts from the lovely wee creature below! and we also had a quick viewing of the exhibits. The kiwi were having an active day. The fish etc were really well displayed with useful information panels, and I hope to get back sometime to see it all at a more leisurely pace.
Our main 'work' for the day was sampling in the Ahuriri Estuary, and we couldn't start this until 3pm, as we needed to wait for low tide. It was great fun working with a wonderful tutor and a very cooperative bunch of extramurals on this. Our sampling represents the fifth year this has been done, so there is now quite a large dataset built up. It will be interesting looking at the data soon to see whether there have been any changes over time.
Here our tutor has gone out with a student to set up our line for sampling. We then had to split the distance to take five sample points.
On our surface sample, the easier kind, we had to count everything living over the size of 5mm, using this square grid.
We also had to do a sub-surface sample, with two wire meshes so we extracted all the bigger stuff first. Despite our best 'gold-mining' technique, the lower mesh had shells etc covered in sticky estuary mud, so the count of the animals there took a lot longer. I guess what surprised me the most was the huge number of cockles present, and the relatively low numbers of the other species.
Back at camp, there was a rush for the showers before dinner as people wanted to get rid of the mud they had acquired at the estuary! We had a wonderful roast meal, with a yummy coleslaw as well.
After dinner Murray showed us a powerpoint display about the concept of a Mainland Island, as we were to visit the Boundary Stream Mainland Island in the morning. I had never heard of such a thing before. Basically, NZ's conservation efforts have in the past been largely addressed at offshore islands. With a "Mainland Island" efforts are made to stop predators getting into a reserve area, so that the bush and wildlife can become re-established. The Boundary Stream Reserve covers quite a huge altitude range, and we were to be climbing to the top end by bus. (Snow was experienced a few years ago on the field trip, and one year snow stopped the buses even getting there.)
Next instalment will be about Sunday's exploits at Boundary Stream. (Sorry, no more photos though: we were too busy on Sunday!) Our bird recognition task was about to be put to some practical use.