Archives For Silvereye

Aucklanders, Magda Smolira and her daughter Jane, have been busy fulfilling their Conservation Week pledge and turning their backyard into a haven for New Zealand native species. They tell us what they’ve been doing… 

We are so pleased to take part in Conservation Week—mainly because we have been doing many things to invite native species into our backyard and it gives us a chance to share our story.

Building bug hotels

When we were getting rid of an overgrown hedge and broken fence we encountered a family of weta.

We presumed that they were not very happy to be evicted and we tried to make it up to them by building two ‘bug hotels’.

Jane and Magda find a whānau of weta.

A weta household

We used logs of privet that we had cut down and replaced with pohutukawa, a broken clay pot (that the pohutukawa used to grow in), and some left over paving stones.

We hope the hotels are occupied by insects and reptiles, not mice, but to make sure of it we put some Ka Mate traps in the vicinity of the bug hotels and around our compost bin.

Jane and Magda's bug hotel.

A bug hotel

Tracking and trapping rats

Last year, during winter school holidays Jane took part in ‘Eco Warrior Workshop’ (organised by Kaipatiki Project). She made a tracking tunnel and was given the paw print chart.

Jane holding a tracking tunnel.

Tracking tunnel

We were finding rat prints until the day Mr. Rat decided to try a pistachio nut from one of our ka-mate traps!

We were wondering whether Mr. Rat had a family, but we found only snail trails in the tracking tunnel for the rest of the school holidays.

Traps are still in place in case another adventurous rodent visits our backyard.

Attracting the birds

Our neighbours have beautiful kowhai tree and we have some kind of ornamental plum that attracts tui and silvereye when in bloom.

A silvereye hanging in an ornamental plum tree.

A silvereye in our backyard

On our last visit to Tiritiri Matangi we bought a nectar feeder that will hopefully give those birds extra support and stop them raiding my fig tree.

A young puriri tree is our Fathers Day gift to our dad. We hope to see wood pigeons feeding on it in the not too distant future.

Welcoming wildlife

We haven’t seen any reptiles in our backyard yet. We are hoping to though. We grow organic vegies, made bug hotels and are currently planting plants that will attract insects so we are hoping that geckos and skinks will move in. The concrete tubes from Habitat for Humanity shop (anybody knows what they are for?) should make good hiding places.

A lizard home in the garden.

Lizard home

Proud to pledge

We are proud and privileged to celebrate Conservation Week. We still have to do the online bird ID course to fulfill our pledge.

Jane and Magda's backyard.

The backyard

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Carisse de Beer,  Permissions Advisor – Hamilton Shared Service Centre.

At work

Name: Carisse de Beer
Position: Permissions Advisor
Office: Hamilton Shared Service Centre

Carisse with a rescued baby silvereye.

Obi Wan, the rescued baby silvereye. That was the first time I’ve ever held a wild bird

Some things I do in my job include…receiving and analysing applications for concessions, writing reports and then making recommendations on those applications. Part of my job also includes liaising and working closely with a wide range of people within the department and externally, solving problems, and ensuring that concessions are processed to set timeframes.

The best bit about my job is… that it gives me the ability to learn new and interesting things about our flora and fauna. I try to learn something new every day.

A hihi on a branch at Maungatautari Ecological Island.

A favourite pass time – watching birds. I snapped this little hihi at Maungatautari Ecological Island

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… I haven’t been at DOC for very long (3 months!) but I love having some part to play in conservation, even if I am in an office all day at the moment.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… Don Merton. He was a pioneer in conservation and his work, dedication and enthusiasm for New Zealand’s “national monuments” like the kakapo and kiwi, and the wonderful little black robin, is inspiring. I love telling my friends and family (and any one who will listen) of Old Blue, Old Yellow and Don Merton’s genius in taking a population of only 5 birds and rescuing them from the brink of extinction. He did so much for New Zealand conservation and even today I like to think he continues to do so much through the knowledge we’ve gained from him.

A monarch butterfly on Carisse's hand.

Monarch butterfly

On a personal note

Most people don’t know that I… have an insect collection and a small herbarium. Both were university projects and are my pride and joy.

If I could trade places with any other person for a week-famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional-it would be… Sir David Attenborough. How amazing would it be to travel the world in my pale blue shirt and khaki slacks, investigating the secret lives of plants and watching the elaborate mating dance of the superb bird of paradise? I grew up watching David Attenborough and, as a child, so much of what I knew and loved about animals came from his documentaries. Now, as an adult, I will still sit at home on a rainy day re-watching Life of Birds. I don’t think it’ll ever get old!

Carisse wearing a wig and gown.

Taking a bad hair day to the next level

In my spare time I… like to go bird watching. I also like to bake and decorate cakes. Cake, in many ways, makes all things better.

Deep and meaningful

My favourite quote is… “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… to never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.

A collection of insects.

Adding to my collection

In work and life I am motivated by… passionate people. These are the people that have inspired and motivated me to keep working towards my own goals, even at the worst of times. I love that at DOC, these people seem to be everywhere!

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… to treat every living thing and its home with respect.

A cupcake with grass, a mushroom and animals as decoration.

One of my creations – a biology-themed cupcake