Tide’s out today!

Butterflies, dragonflies and birds flitted in front of us as we walked to the bird hide. A pelican spiralled higher and hiimage005gher before disappearing as we were distracted by flocks of birds in the wetlands. Boring to stay too long, even with all the hidey holes and the birds catching a lunch.

 

Chasing a butterfly into gardens of replanted natives is much more fun. Racing down the hill even better. Scrunching through the gravel was also entertaining. The older boys looked at and exclaimed that they’d found the mangroves. “The stalks that look like dead sticks aren’t really dead but are part of the mangrove.”image003

Little one was much more excited to find a ‘pider! Cries of “There’s a ‘pider web! And there’s another ‘pider web” echoed through the area as Mr 2’s excitement grew. He was very careful not to get too close to the sticky web though, because spiders can be dangerous.

image011Meanwhile the older two had found crabs. “I’ve spotted more than 10 crabs!” we were assured. There’s more and more here! Although I knew the mangrove mud was a perfect nursery ground for crabs, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many crabs in this area. Boys were fascinated for ages until hunger overcame Mr nearly 6’s interest. Mr nearly 8 was very keen to try and take photos of the ones with the red claws. “They’re fiddler crabs. Crabs hide in the mud very well. We could only see them because they were moving.” Mr nearly 6 was upset on the crab’s behalf when he image009realised some of the birds were eating them. Both adults casually said it was part of their life. Everything is food for something else. Mr 8 reminded Mr 6 that he’d eaten crab meat when we’d had fish and chips the other night.

spoonbill walking
Spoonbill Walking captured by Samuel Buck

Another sight that was new for us was the small flock of spoonbills, wading through the puddles. Mr 8 again very keen to photograph these too. image013As the birds moved around, a loud popping sound echoed through the mangroves. We speculated whether this was the sound of beaks clacking or something else. As the boys devoured their feast, a sign was discovered showing the fiddler crabs and identifying the noisemaker as a “popping shrimp”.

Walking along, small schools of tiny fish were spotted in one waterhole. “Look for the ripples, then find the fish.” Skimmers in another puddle. Patterns left by seagrass hooked around mangrove stalks. A fallen moth, trapped on the surface of a small waterhole, was a source of fascination. Every time it frantically flapped its wings, ripples appeared in the water.

There seemed to be more rubbish than normal trapped in the stalks of the mangroves. Discussion about this took the form of a mini-lecture as Mr almost 6 told us that people should be more careful and take their rubbish not leave it to make a mess of the mangroves. Later discussion identified that there was more rubbish than normal today. Mr almost 6 wasn’t able to identify a reason. (Easter weekend, storm last night washed street rubbish into storm drains). We’ll have to explore that a little more.

We left the boardwalk and returned across a creek and along a bike path to the car. Mushroom/fungi provided a brief distraction. Mushroom studiesMr 2: “Probably it’s got an eye”.
Mr 6 and Mr 8 compared the feel of the top and bottom of the mushroom. Mr 6 discovered how easy it is to knock the mushroom over – much to Mr 8’s disgust!

Short sticks became the focus of the final moments of the walk. Mr 6 found one the perfect size. Mr 2 practiced stamping on sticks to break them into small parts. Mr 6 stirred water to make mud in a small gully under a minibridge. Several thrusts at the water led to him planting his stick “to make it a tall building!” Unfortunately, not a very stable building.

Photos and text by Michele Buck

Beginning the Journey

Near our home, on the edge of the bay, is a boardwalk through a tiny piece of mangrove forest. It’s not long, 800 metres or so. The boardwalk is never deserted, it is always quiet.

Every visit seems a little different as tide and season reveal different facets of the mangrove ecosystem. The children have been here for family walks several times and are familiar with some different points to pause and notice the multispecies and more than human others. A board walk keeps visitors out of the mud (much to the relief of local washing machines) and allows visitors to observe with little repeated impact on this ecosystem.

We are living in an era, the Anthropocene, where human impact has multiplied caused measurable alterations to geologic and climatic conditions (Instone & Taylor, 2015; Todd, 2015). Researchers and philosophers have proposed that humans need to consider they are a part of, not apart from, an interconnected net of relationships that form a shared space we all use (Haraway, 2008; Todd, 2015). This net would include relationships between different flora and fauna including humans, features of the landscapes, climactic conditions are all considered part of this (Instone & Taylor, 2015). This view of nonliving and living beings being interconnected has a lot in common with indigenous beliefs in different parts of the world (Todd, 2015).

A collective walking approach is being used for this project, based on the approach described in Experimenting with Collective Walking Techniques (click here) and used in the project Walking in Wild Weather Times (click here). Collective walking is slow. DSC00896 (2)Walkers stop to notice and look for interesting things. Whether that be a spiderweb, a leaf, a tide at a different height. Walkers discuss connections they make and theories they have. In this way walkers are learning of others, with others and from others.  It is hoped that by walking and noticing the others who share our world, awareness of those others will develop, then understanding and acceptance of their place in the world will follow (Haraway, 2008). Links here to Belonging, Being and Becoming: Early Years Learning Framework. Particularly with Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world. The blog will then become an multispecies, ethnographic journey.

References

Haraway, D. J. (2008), When Species Meet. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Instone, L & Taylor, A. (2015) Thinking about inheritance through the figure of the anthropocene, from the antipodes and in the presence of others. Environmental Humanities 7, 133-150.Retrieved from http://environmentalhumanities.org/arch/vol7/7.7.pdf

Todd, Z. (2015) Indigenizing the Anthropocene. In H. Davis & E. Turpin Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among aesthetics, politics, environments and epistemologies. London, UK: Open Humanities Press.