Beach and bird bones

Karekare bees and the pohutakawa

We are fortunate to be able to jump in our car and reach some truly beautiful beaches, and while it’s a day trip (requiring food, packing and ‘planning’), Auckland’s west coast beaches are special to our family.

Karekare Blake on thebeach and bike

My experiences over the last year affirmed some of our core family values, love of the beach, the coast and the wild outdoors. Particularly, just how good places like this are for the soul. In tough times we head out to the ocean, the wilder the better! Now, we are not hardcore trampers by any means, so you’ll not see us regularly spending days trekking through the bush.

Karekare sand log

But we will be found meandering, looking, swimming, walking, looking at the details, exploring, and these days, at a small person’s pace. This could be described as a creative and inquisitive approach to life, it is joyful and abundant, and I so love to see this in my children.

Karekare Luna by the cliff

Luna’s world is connected with the past, she sees time in rocks, and is often looking to find out what happened and when, who was there? Animals? ‘Early Humans’? She has a real thirst for exploring, finding out where and why things happened.

Karekare sand dessicated fish

At the discovery of a fish carcass, with it’s skin intact, Luna comments, “These conditions are like the Sahara Desert!” it’s like it had been mummified by the environment.

Karekare sand dessicated fish detail

The visit to the beach and the dry dunes reminded me (and Luna) of the books and documentaries that have helped inform Luna’s understanding of the passing of time, of human and animal history, and how discoveries are made, this was much like a fossil finding expedition…

Karekare dune spirilla spirals

While there was no evidence to suggest fossils in the rocks, there were some very exciting discoveries to be made in the dunes.

Karekare bird bones

Luna discovered two sets of skeletal remains of what we think were seagulls, and we were all impressed, when seeing the bones, how much like dinosaurs they were…

Karekare bird bone

Tiny, fine bones, Luna and Blake speculated about the animal, it’s size, the difference to fish bones….

Karekare bird skull and Luna

A complete, and rather large skull, the jaw could open and it had some dry skin and fine feathers on it’s head. Very exciting!

Karekare bones

Luna and Blake laid some bones out, and started to investigate them, extracting them from the sand was risky, the bones were held together by the crusty dried sand. Luna quickly assumed the role of chief archeologist! Reminding us to take care, and speculating on the find (sounding a lot like David Attenborough) how the animal might have died, and how it ended up where we found it, how it moved, and was it really a bird?

Karekare bird bone collection

She took them home in her sunhat, this is her collection… Luna set to, brushing off sand with a paint brush, she was particularly interested in the skulls.

Karekare cleaning out the braincase seagull skull

“Cleaning out the brain-case” Luna explained.

Karekare complete seagull skull

Wonderful specimens, and so much to learn from ‘play’ with them. Luna’s play already involves scientific investigations, she has set up ‘museums’ in a display place, and in her dollhouse, complete with workrooms, tables and trays, to clean and curate new specimens, and she uses this language as she tells the story to herself, and answers my questions when I look at her work.


What I took away from the day, is that the ‘play’ Luna creates around exploration, and discovery is wonderfully real. Even though she has yet to visit a ‘real’ fossil dig, and has so much to learn about geography and archeology, she is doing the ‘real thing’, already, she has an earnest, creative and open-minded way of seeing and doing. That, and that she fully owned and was in charge of this learning adventure. This was re-assuring for me, as I – sometimes feel – somewhat limited as far as geological field trips are concerned! Especially as Luna has read of Barnum Brown finding fossil mollusks in his back yard, that would be her dream come true….

Karekare rock plants

So, we’ll hold on the to bigger geo trip plans, and keep up the beach days, the exploration, and skeleton play!

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