Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report June 2018

Our youngest volunteer Jake Somersall-Weekes helps to upgrade one of the mustelid traps.

Operational Summary

Yeah gidday, I hope you are all very well and have managed to avoid most of the colds and flu going around. I do also hope you have been able to get out and about in some of the nicer winter days. The volunteer and ranger team have had to keep hard at task with pest numbers (mainly mice) remaining still a bit higher than normal for mid-winter. This has meant that all the bait stations and traps must be checked fastidiously as always to keep everything in tip top condition to lure in those wily pests. We have also been busy maintaining the trap lines, by clearing tight vegetation and cutting in foot steps on steep slopes. With approximately 65km of trap lines (in often tricky terrain) this is always a mountainous task and the focus is, and will continue to be, on the northern slope lines that the volunteers mainly service. Trap catches have slowed down moderately too, with 29 pests caught, down ten catches from 39 in May. Only four of these 29 catches were caught within the reserve, the remainder being caught on the boundary. We have been really busy again with other operational tasks, such as re-monitoring the grey faced petrel (GFP) site, hosting Whangarei Girls High School for historical and environmental education, kiwi call counts within Bream Head Scenic Reserve, a cool kiwi show and tell at Whangarei Heads School in conjunction with Backyard Kiwi and Limestone Island/Matakohe, weed control workshops, on the ground weed control action as well as new trap mapping and maintenance.

Tip, top traps

Volunteers/rangers have also been busy upgrading/updating traps, winter is a great time to ensure our fleet of devices are delivering the best possible chance of a fast, clean catch. Upgrades to our DOC200 mustelid trap boxes has seen a new bait hook added that is removable so that the trapper does not touch the old bait and therefore significantly reduces the chance of cross contamination to the replacement bait. Many of the traps required their internal mesh baffles to be replaced due to rusting. Trap sensitivity and trip plates have also been tested and adjusted where necessary. Our possum traps (the Sentinel trap) are getting to an age where they are rusting through and, in this state, are both ineffective and dangerous to the trapper. Therefore, our plan is to replace them gradually with the approved SA2 possum/feral cat trap. These are easier to use, last longer in the environment and have the added bonus of being able to kill both possums and feral cats with one trap. At the top of this post is a photo of our youngest volunteer, Jake Somersall-Weekes, helping to upgrade one of the mustelid traps out on the southern side of the reserve. You can see the SA2 possum/feral cat trap on the tree behind Jake. Jake is only 16 years of age and is keen to become a professional conservation ranger when he leaves school and spends 6-7 hours every two weeks trapping and filling bait stations for the Trust.

Read the Full Report (1.3MB pdf) for more on these and other stories.