The northern side of the reserve is tinder dry with most trees wilting badly and even some young species on the ridges such as Mahoe, Kawakawa and a few Manuka dying or all together dead! I sincerely hope that by the time you are reading this that we have had some good rain to fill up the parched, cracked land and give all our species some much needed moisture. The end of December and through the first few weeks of January unfortunately saw quite a run of stoats and their litters, which we worked hard to trap as soon as we could. The benign winter and consequential high food availability meant these breeding/killing machines were able to produce larger litters this season, another adaptive characteristic of this mammal that make it such a deadly predator.
I noted in the November rangers report that the cause of death of our 10 Grey Faced Petrel chicks was yet to be determined. Expert advice from local DOC biodiversity staff, based on the evidence collected, suggest that the death of these seabirds was highly comparable to, and most likely due to stoat predation.
What is interesting and very heartening is that even whilst the reserve had this short-lived influx of predators, birds such as our North Island Robins, Oyster Catchers, Dotterels, Kaka and others have continued to breed. However, it is the most vulnerable species such as our ground breeding Grey Faced Petrels who need further support from us to produce a safe habitat for them to return and thrive in our reserve and region.
Cool species out in hot summer sunAs mentioned earlier in this report this summer has seen a slightly higher number of pests detected such as stoats. However, even with these predators running around the reserve it is heartwarming to see our species happily breeding at the same time, and even some new or rare species appearing too. Smugglers Beach has been no exception to this with the sighting of Dotterel on the beach (first time seen by long serving Trust members), multiple Oyster Catcher pairs with one or two offspring and even a rarely seen Kumara Moth Caterpillar spotted by BHCT volunteer coordinator Melissa Arsenault. I am happy to report that I have also found a few Blue Penguin burrows around the eastern shoreline of the reserve and am sure there will be many more. This is further evidence that with support certain species can recover but others such as Grey Faced Petrel and other trying to return to the mainland need an even more protective environment without any pests at all.
Read the January 2017 Rangers Report (1.2MB pdf) for more details on this and other stories.