Backyard Activities

Fun and meaningful environmental activities during CoVid-19's Level 4 Lockdown 

 

We want you to make the most of the lockdown period and see it as an opportunity to get busy in your backyard, have fun and make a difference.

 

With this in mind, Pest Free Kaipātiki has been busy putting together a calendar full of backyard activities we will be sharing with you daily for the duration of the lockdown period. There are games, challenges, quizzes, information and resources. We believe there is something for everyone and is also a chance to start or continue animal pest control, getting rid of those nasty pest plants and getting to know the biodiversity in your backyard.

* See instruction and links to downloadable content at the bottom of this page. 

More information, downloadable content and guides

Day 1Backyard Biodiversity Challenge                       01-30 April 2020

Discover the biodiversity of your backyard during lockdown in Pest Free Kaipatiki’s Backyard Biodiversity Challenge.  We invite you to see how many species you can find in your backyard. Use the iNaturalist app or website to record your observations and follow the progress of the challenge.  Who will be the one to identify the most species during the month of April?

To participate:

  1. Download the iNaturalist app or go to their website and create an account

  2. When creating an account it is best to create a user-name that is not your real name to protect your privacy

  3. Once you have created an account log in on your phone or computer

  4. Add observations via the mobile app or website but make sure to upload a photo. You can read our PFK iNaturalist guide here to help you get started. 

  5. Photograph species only in your backyard or the location at which you are staying during the lockdown period

  6. For your health and safety, please take care on slopes and uneven terrain, look out for an avoid wasps, and always respect life and disturb the life you find as little as possible while taking photographs. Do not remove plants or animals from where you found them. 

  7. When making observations you can change the privacy setting of the location details.  As the observations are in your backyard or where you are staying during lockdown, if you do not want this location to be revealed please change the geoprivacy setting of the observation to ‘obscured’ or ‘private’.  For more information on geoprivacy settings please click here for the iNaturalist help page.

  8. All species identified during the month of April, that have a photo and have been found in Kaipatiki will be counted

  9. See your progress and follow the challenge on the iNaturalist webpage: Pest Free Kaipatiki's Backyard Biodiversity Challenge on iNaturalist

For more instructions on how to use iNaturalist see their getting started guide (Getting Started with iNaturalist).

Good luck and stay safe :)

 

 

 

Day 2: Rock Painting Competition                       02-30 April 2020

How to enter To Enter:

You must be a member of Rocks New Zealand group and like I Am Kauri Page

Your uploaded photo to I Am Kauri page with #lovekauri is your entry to the competition

Painted Rock must be your own creation

Show both hashtags on the back of the rock #lovekauri and #RocksNZ

 

Bonus entry if you incorporate any of the kauri messaging below in your artistic creation (front of the rock):

  • Love kauri

  • Protect kauri

  • Scrub your shoes

  • Use cleaning stations

  • Stay on tracks

  • Stay away from kauri roots

 

Prizes:

  • 0 to 5 year olds $40 Arty Farty voucher

  • 6 to 10 year olds $ 40 Arty Farty voucher

  • 11 to 14 year olds $40 Arty Farty voucher

  • 15 year olds and above $40 Arty Farty voucher

  • Best inclusion of kauri messaging (front of the rock) $40 Resene Voucher

  • Most Inspiring creation $60 Resene Voucher

 

Prizes include shipping to any NZ address. If lockdown continues after the end of the competition, prizes will be shipped once lockdown is lifted.

Competition open to New Zealand residents, no age limitation.

Multiple unique entries accepted. Adults can upload their child's creation on their behalf. Please state child's name and age on each entry.

A total of six (6) winners will be selected by a Judge Panel comprised of three judges. The judge's decision is final and no contest will be entered into.

 

Winners must get in touch via messenger within 5 days after being notified to redeem their prize.

Day 3: Weed of the Week - Moth Plant                    

You can do your bit while at home by helping in the following ways:

  • RECOGNISE: Keep a look out for moth plant - especially those with flowers or pods. If you are unsure, try taking a photo in the free app iNaturalist - the photo recognition software will give suggestions as to what it is.

  • REPORT: Record your findings in EcoTrack, hundreds of other reports across Kaipātiki are being made and slowly controlled, building a great picture. Head to our YouTube Channel for tutorials on how to use EcoTrack.

  • REMOVE: Small seedlings of moth plants in loose soil can easily be pulled out by the roots. Be sure to wear gloves and avoid getting sap on your skin or clothes. (IMPORTANT: If root fragments can't be pulled out, you should apply a herbicide gel to the cut stem or it will grow back. See Moth Plant fact sheet here for which herbicide to use, or if unable to access gel during lockdown- you can use a mix of glyphosate at 140ml per litre of water to treat the cut stump (even better if you can also scrape part of the sides before application)

  • RESTORE: Encourage others to join the fight to control moth plant by sharing information and talking about it on social media. By removing this weed, you are releasing the environment and our natives can flourish. Thank you!

 

Day 4: Predator Monitoring - Make your own Tracking Tunnel                   

Today's backyard activity is to make a tracking tunnel so you can find out what pests (or other wildlife) are living in your backyard. Pests run through the tunnel to get the lure and leave their footprints on the paper. For instructions on how to make it, check the videos below. They use different materials so check them both:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT3E8FCq-Nk&t=48s

  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uChWMjSIJh8

We also recommend you read our monitoring guide 

Basic resources can still be purchased during lockdown from the supermarket (i.e food colouring and sponge to use as ink pad).

Once your tracking tunnel is ready, check it after one night. If you don't have any footprints, in your backyard you can of course leave it for longer. Share a photo of your creation and the footprints to enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz or on our facebook page so we can check them together and if you have any questions, please get in touch.

Extra tips:

  • Wear gloves when making the tunnel if possible to reduce the amount of human smells are on it (they may discourage wildlife from entering)

  • Food colouring can be used in a shallow (but sturdy) plastic dish in replacement for the 'ink pad'. Food colouring can still be purchased at the supermarket and to help it stretch

  • Make sure the ink pad goes right the way across the width of your tunnel

Good luck and have fun!

Day 5: BLITZ - the Card Game

BLITZ gamesheet

BLITZ Print & Play Cards 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them on our Facebook page or by emailing enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz. We would also love to see photos of your progress, so if you want to share and inspire others, please put them up on our facebook page. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6: Crossword Puzzle - Kauri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moth Plant is an invasive pest vine. It strangles other vegetation, traps monarch butterflies in it's flowers and produces a sticky, irritating white sap. The seed pods contains about 600+ seeds that can be dispersed by the wind more than 30 kms across Auckland. We need your help to get this pest plant under control.

Weed of the Week DIY poster Moth plant.j

We have prepared an activity for the young ones in your family. They can create a moth plant poster -template provided- or they can use their imagination and create their own! A great idea would be to place temporarily on your berm to encourage neighbours to spot this nasty pest plant and take action. Please show us a photo of their creations in the comments!

Possum

Rat

Hedgehog

Blitz is a free Print and Play card game for children, teachers and families developed right here by PFK. It can teach your family about our native world and help to protect it through volunteering while exploring your backyard. Give it a go and keep active, healthy and get more connected with nature! 

Click the Downloadable content below to get started. Read the gamesheet first to learn the rules, then print off both the cards and gamesheet at home. The cards look great cut out and laminated if you have the resources, otherwise simply printed on paper will do! 

Today's activity is a kauri themed crossword puzzle. You can download and fill this at home. Once complete, submit a photo with your answers in the comments section. See how many you can get!

Kauri is a valuable taonga and we should treat them as such. To prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease, please follow all signs when entering a reserve where there are kauri and stay on track.

Kauri quiz.jpg

Day 7: Predator Control - Set a trap or bait station

 

 

 

Today's backyard activity is to set a trap or bait station to help protect our beautiful wildlife and your family. You can find our detailed how-to sheets on our website or below are a couple of quick instructional videos on how to do both:

Many of you already have traps and resources at home ready to go, so please go ahead and conduct your own predator pulse in your backyard as usual and report your results on EcoTrack.

  • Make sure if you use DITRAC bait that you have enough (at least 20 blocks per station) to last you the pulse otherwise you might create sick rats, not dead rats.

Controlling predators at home while in lockdown is really easy! A single bait station can take as little as 4-6 minutes per pulse to maintain. A trap should be checked a bit more frequently, but again you are looking at close to 10 minutes per trap per pulse to provide defence to your property and surrounding area.

 

If you haven't got tools or bait now, don't despair! Send us an email to enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz to receive advice and book a trap/bait station for when we are out of lockdown.

Day 8: Virtual Volunteer

 

Got free time on your hands? Today's at home activity is to become a Virtual Volunteer.

Kaipātiki is full of talented people with all kinds of skills and experience. PFK is a Not-For-Profit all about connecting people to the environment and creating wins for our native wildlife.

If you think you can spare a few minutes, or even a more decent chunk of time to volunteer on an important project, please take a look at our list on our website's blog article about Volunteering opportunities in April

You might have DIY, writing, talking, or design skills - all would be so helpful to us.

Please email us at enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz if you would like to know more 

Day 9: Crossword Puzzle - Amazing Arthropods

 

Today's activity is an arthropod crossword puzzle. You can download and fill this at home.  See how many you can get!!

Arthropods are invertebrates with jointed legs. They make up about 75% of all animals on Earth and have a major role in maintaining ecosystems as pollinators, recyclers of nutrients, scavengers and food for other animals. They include many animals we come across in our gardens, such as spiders, ants, centipedes and slaters.

You can read the answers here.

Amazing Arthropods.jpg

Day 10: Weed of the Week - Pampas grass

 

Pampas grass, also known as cutty grass or Cortaderia selloana, is an invasive plant in New Zealand, originally coming here from South America. It out-competes groundcovers, shrubs, ferns by growing densely, creates habitat for rats and possum, impedes access and even creates a fire hazard. It is particularly damaging around the coast and within wetlands.  

You can do your bit while at home by helping in the following ways:

RECOGNISE: It forms a large, clump up to 4m, with long sharp edged leaves and an erect, fluffy, white-pinkish flower head - and often grows in high light, often disturbed areas. Invasive Pampas grass is often confused with our native equivalent, toetoe. If you are unsure, try taking a photo in the free app iNaturalist - the photo recognition software will give suggestions as to what it is.

REPORT: Record your findings in EcoTrack, hundreds of other reports across Kaipātiki are being made and slowly controlled, building a great picture.

REMOVE: Seedlings can be dug or grubbed out and left on site to rot down providing roots are kept off the ground. Larger plants can be chainsawed down or dug up with heavy machinery. Any seedheads should be disposed of safely (i.e drowned in a barrel of water, dried and burnt, sent to a transfer station, or deposited in a dedicated weed bag tied in a bag). Cut and paste stems with a double strength glyphosate gel such as Bamboo Buster. Leave cut foliage to rot but dispose of seed heads safely. Foliage can be sprayed with glyphosate gel at a 20ml per Litre rate, with 1m of added penetrant per litre. Repeat every 3 months as required until the plant is eradicated. Leave for natives to seed and replace the clump, or consider using a scrub bar or slashing tops once dead to lay the bulk of material on the ground for faster decomposition.

RESTORE: Encourage others to join the fight to control pampas grass by sharing information and talking about it on social media. By removing this weed, you are releasing the environment and our natives can flourish. Thank you!

We have prepared an activity for the young ones in your family. They can create a pampas grass poster (template provided) or they can use their imagination and create their own! A great idea would be to place temporarily on your berm to encourage neighbours to spot this nasty pest plant and take action.

 

Please show us a photo of their creations on our facebook page!

Pampas Poster.jpg

Day 11: Story telling 

It's day 11 for our backyard activities, and this one is all about local things, creativity and having fun. Great for kids.

The challenge today is to capture what you are doing at home to enjoy the outdoors or look after the environment. It could be anything, simply tell your story through a short 1-3 minute video from your smartphone. Get help from someone at home or a friend online to edit it and send it through to enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz. This actually matches one of our BLITZ Wild Cards as well - so if you are playing, this will give you a whopping 40 points.

A quick snip, or a masterpiece video that takes the rest of lockdown are both valid ideas! Check out WeedBusters' guide to create a 2 min film' if you need ideas on how to get started.

Day 12: Easter Weed Hunt for wildlife

What do some of our rarer species of bird like the kaka, kakariki and morepork need to make Kaipatiki their home?

 

  • Safe spaces (trapping predators),

  • healthy habitat (weeds not strangling the bush),

  • and yes - a variety of native trees for food and NESTING SITES. These three special birds mentioned above nest in cavities, often made in old, large, decaying trees.

PFK want to encourage the planting (where appropriate and where there is space) of larger growing native trees like kahikatea, rimu, puriri, kohekohe and totara among many others. We even want to re-utilise nasty pest trees and turn them into artificial nests for our wildlife. Essentially swapping out a baddie for a goodie.

Do you have any of these pest trees growing on your property and might like to think about getting rid of them and replacing with something else or turning them into a bat roost or possible nesting site? We are keen to talk to the the public about how this can be done overtime. But the first step - is to find out where these trees are!

So today's challenge is to download the EcoTrack app and register the following pest trees when you are out an about (keeping safe distancing of course and in your neighbourhood bubble!):

 

  • Privet

  • Chinese fan palm

  • Bangalow palm

  • Phoenix palm

  • Pines

  • Wattle

  • Flame tree (Coral tree)

  • Monkey apple

 

 

 

Click here for our youtube instructional videos on how to easily use EcoTrack

Credit for the beautiful images to New Zealand Birds Online and Weedbusters

Banbalow.jpg
chinese fan.jpg
Privet2.jpg

Tree Privet (there is also Chinese privet), Chinese fan palm, Bangalow palm

wattle2.jpg
Coral tree.jpg

Wattle, flame/coral tree, monkey apple

Day 13: Bird monitoring

Today's backyard activity is how to do a 5 minute bird count. The goal of this activity is to find what bird life is in your backyard. Do you think your street is eerly quiet? Or quite the opposite? Now is a great time to listen out for bird life.

Become a citizen scientist for a day, read our guide and fill in the form with your findings. We will post the results by the end of lockdown!

Day 14: Love Kauri

Most tracks with kauri trees have been closed during lockdown to keep them safe from kauri dieback as it is not possible to maintain the hygiene stations where people clean their shoes.  So, kauri trees are in isolation too. Let's show them we still care about them and that they are out of reach but not out of touch.

 

Today's backyard activity is to write a message, a poem, a haiku, draw a picture. Get creative to show kauri your love on our Facebook page or email enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz

Day 15: Bug Hotel

Creepy crawlies are fun to find and are good for your garden too. Give them somewhere to live and you’ll be fascinated by what visitors come and stay.

Today's challenge is to create a bug hotel. Kiwi Families has created a great guide on how you can create one at home: https://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/articles/make-bug-hotel/

Also don't forget, lots of our native insects like weta and puriri moth are put in danger by mice, rats and hedgehog that eat them up in the blink of an eye. These invertebrates would usually feed our beloved native birds like ruru... so if you can, incorporate a trap or bait station in your backyard to complement your new bug hotel.

Day 16: Weed of the Week - Madeira vine

Madeira vine (also known as Mignonette vine or Anredera cordifolia) is a stranger to New Zealand, it came to our country from South America. It is pretty distinctive, and we have a good chance of eradicating it since it doesn’t appear too common in Kaipātiki. It’s a serious threat however, so let’s try to beat it now before it becomes more of an issue! Together if we RECOGNISE, REPORT and REMOVE this pest plant - our forests and wildlife will be far happier for it.

You can do your bit while at home by helping in the following ways:

RECOGNISE: Keep an eye out for madeira vine. A climbing vine with slender stems, aging to a more dull and hardy brown when older. Leaves are quite succulent like in more shady environments, thinner in high light. Nodules or tubers originate from the stems of mature vines, which can form large clusters which are easily dislodged and are a key identification feature of this pest plant. Flowers appear between January and April, in the form of long, hanging white racemes.  If you are unsure, try taking a photo in the free app iNaturalist - the photo recognition software will give suggestions as to what it is.

 

REPORT: Record your findings in EcoTrack, hundreds of other reports across Kaipātiki are being made and slowly controlled, building a great picture.

 

REMOVE: Pull up small seedlings and ensure they are disposed of safely (i.e drowned in a barrel of water, dried and burnt, sent to a transfer station, seal in black weed bags for 12 months or more to decompose (sun will speed process) or deposited in a dedicated weed bag). Cut vine close to the ground and paint the stump with met-gel* and then dedicate time to follow up this site and the regrowth of falling tubers you can expect for the months or years ahead

 

*Use a glyphosate based gel (such as Bamboo buster) instead if you are working around waterways or valuable native trees such as kahikatea. Ensure a minimal amount of gel is applied, and rain is not in the forecast.

 

RESTORE: Encourage others to join the fight to control madeira vine by sharing information and talking about it on social media. By removing this weed, you are releasing the environment and our natives can flourish. Thank you!

We have prepared an activity for the young ones in your family. They can create a madeira vine poster (template provided) or they can use their imagination and create their own! A great idea would be to place temporarily on your berm to encourage neighbours to spot this nasty pest plant and take action.

 

Please show us a photo of their creations on our facebook page!

Click the images below to zoom in and see detail. Photos credit to Weedbusters

Madeira credit Weedbusters1.jpg
madeira credit weedbusters2.jpg
Maderia credit weedbusters3.jpg
madeira vine nodules.jpg
Madeira vine poster.jpg

Day 17: Predator monitoring - DIY Chew Card

Today's backyard activity is a fun and simple one. It's to make a chew card so you can record what is visiting in your backyard. Pests bite the cards and leave distinctive marks you can identify.


We do this to monitor what is called 'Presence and Absence' of pests (i.e what's out there!), and on a larger scale - how abundant a species is. We hope to of course reduce how many of these pests are in our backyards and reserves - so native wildlife can thrive instead.

  1. For a guide on how to make it - view the Predator Free NZ 'How to make chew cards' sheet

  2. For a guide on how to place it out in your backyard, view our PFK Chew Card Guide

  3. And if you find bite marks, use Landcare Research's excellent Identification Guide

Day 18: Create a lizard friendly garden

Today's activity is to start planning a more lizard friendly garden. Predator Free New Zealand Trust has created this beautiful little guide on how to simply add things to your backyard that will benefit native skinks and geckos. 

LizardGarden.jpg

We are lucky to have a number of species here in Auckland and Kaipātiki, including these lovely little guys - the Forest Gecko (Mokopirirakau granulatus)

Day 19: Predator Blitz - Possum Control

The weather is cooling, and possum are beginning to seek warmer places to live. Often this can be in your roof, or other hidey-holes in the bush which would usually be for ruru (morepork) or other native wildlife. Today's activity is for those of you out there with a Timms trap or perhaps a Trapinator lying in the garage, to get it out there and protect your area from possums.

Protect your rosebushes, feijoas, fruit trees and native wildlife by accessing a trap and reading up on our tips and tricks for keeping them under control

When we are out of lockdown, if you wish to borrow a trap because you have heard or seen possum in your area, flick us a facebook message or an email as you can borrow one from our toolshed.

Day 20: Native butterfly and moth garden

The winter planting season is coming up... for today's activity why not consider planting a few things for our native butterflies and moths?

With nzButterfly.info, the Moths and Butterflies of NZ Trust and Forest & Bird among others producing great guides and information - getting started is easy!

The key to support and enjoy these rare and threatened species is to plant the 'host plant' they rely on to breed. In addition you can plant particular things that feed the adults with nectar.

Here are some helpful links to get started:

Butterfly poster-2.jpg
Native-plants-for-NZ-butterflies-1.jpg

1) ​Know your native species

Butterfly Poster

2) Plant starter guide by the Moths & Butterflies of New Zealand Trust

Day 21: Crossword - Pest animals

Today's activity is a pest animal themed crossword puzzle. You can download and fill this at home.

 

Once complete, check back in a few days for the answers. Feel free to post queries on our facebook page, and don't be afraid to google if you don't know something.

 

See how many you can get!

 

Pest animals have been bought to New Zealand by humans, and unfortunately damage, degrade or destroy the systems of nature to such an extent that our precious wildlife is unable to flourish as it once did. Volunteers across Kaipatiki and Auckland dedicate thousands of hours each year in order to preserve that which is native and unique to New Zealand - because it simply cannot be found anywhere else.

pest-animal-crossword-activity.jpg

Day 22: Earth Day's 50th Anniversary!

To commemorate this day, we have a variety of meaningful ideas you can action in your own backyard. These are activities everyone can do to participate in Earth Day and #EARTHRISE! Each of them will contribute to our collective goal of a Pest Free Kaipātiki:

 

 

Please share with us how you are celebrating Earth Day on Facebook or send us an email

Day 23: Weed of the Week - Blue Morning Glory

Blue morning glory (also known as blue dawn flower, blue bindweed, blue convolvulus, morning glory, I learii, Ipomoea congesta) originates throughout tropical areas. It’s a serious threat, so we propose that together we RECOGNISE, REPORT and REMOVE this pest plant. Our forests and wildlife will be greateful for it.

 

You can do your bit while at home by helping in the following ways:

RECOGNISE: High climbing vine with tough, hairy, twining, running stems with tough fibrous roots without rhizomes. Leaves are usually 3-lobed and silky-hairy underneath. From late spring to early winter, groups of deep blue-purple flowers that are pink at the base and wither in the midday sun are produced.  It has a very fast growth rate, longevity, dense smothering habit and ability to climb to top of high canopy makes this the dominant vine wherever it occurs, particularly along the bush edge, roadside and gardens. Tolerates a variety of environmental conditions. Creeping stems spread this plant locally, and stem fragments are moved in dumped vegetation. Climbs over all other species, ultimately killing them. Can replace forest with low weedy blanket and is the last species in many cases when a bush area totally succumbs to weeds. Thankfully little or no seed is produced in New Zealand.

REPORT: Record your findings in EcoTrack, hundreds of other reports across Kaipātiki are being made and slowly controlled, building a great picture. Visit our YouTube channel for tutorials on how to do this. 

REMOVE:

Firstly establish that the species is not a valued native plant. You can check on iNaturalist if you are unsure. 

 

1. Hand pull, dig out roots (all year round). Dispose of roots and stems at a refuse transfer station or if you are in the Kaipatiki Local Board area, head to one of our community bins and dispose of it for FREE.

 

2. Cut stems close to the ground and paste the stump with met-gel. Leave the tops to wither and die off out of contact with the ground. Follow up in three months for vines missed. 

 

3. Cut the vines at knee to waist height and leave the tops to die off. Allow a month or more for the in-ground end to re-sprout green leaves. At this point, carefully spot spray without damaging surrounding natives with 0.5g per litre of metsulfuron. Repeat until eradicated roughly every 3 months. 

 

RESTORE: Encourage others to join the fight to control blue morning glory by sharing information and talking about it on social media. By removing this weed, you are releasing the environment and our natives can flourish. Thank you!

We have prepared an activity for the young ones in your family. They can create a blue morning glory poster (template provided) or they can use their imagination and create their own! A great idea would be to place temporarily on your berm to encourage neighbours to spot this nasty pest plant and take action.

 

Please show us a photo of their creations on our Facebook page!

blue morning glory.jpg
Weed of the Week DIY poster Blue morning

Day 24: Backyard Activities Bingo

Our final lockdown activity is the backyard activities bingo. Use the bingo card to tick how many activities you completed while on lockdown and share your results with us via email to enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz or on our Facebook page.

 

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We would like to acknowledge the generosity of all our supporters and stakeholders, but most especially:

The Regional Environment and

Natural Heritage Grant Programme

© Pest Free Kaipātiki 2018

Street address: 36 Kauri Road, Birkenhead, Auckland, NZ | enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz

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