Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report August 2019

Welcome rain, the start of spring and rodent tracking numbers.

Tena Koutou katoa,

Well I know most people around are a bit over the recent rain we have been receiving, but I have to say I am not one of those people, as I know that since the start of this year the reserve and our local region was well behind its normal rainfall rate. Prior to the recent precipitation, the ground water was very low for this time of year and would have made it a very dry and hard summer for our plants and animals to survive. The return of the rain also helps the water tanks keep up with our teenagers frequent showering routines – lol!!

Trap Catches

The trap catches for August were reasonably consistent with previous years. Although the rat numbers caught were half that of 2018, the number caught in the reserve (i.e. not on the boundary) constituted 66% of the total rats caught for the month. These have mainly been in one spot over the south side of Bream Head/Te Whara summit and we have increased the number of traps, changed the lures and checked the bait stations and traps more frequently in this area as an attempt to remove this issue as expediently as we can. Fortunately, the possum catch numbers have dropped right off to zero possums trapped in August, and we have had no stoat catches since January.

Rodent Monitoring

August is of course one of the three periods of the year that we conduct rodent monitoring in order to ascertain the residual tracking index (RTI) for rodents at Bream Head Scenic Reserve (BHSR). This year’s August index was conducted over one night and the weather was excellent for this monitoring activity with dry and cool conditions. Ocean Beach locals and BHCT volunteers Pete and Cathy Mitchell helped Ripley and me install and recover the 150 tracking cards that are placed into corflute tunnels every 50m apart on separate tracking tunnel lines. These 15 lines (each with 10 tunnels) run straight up and down each side of the reserve so they are perpendicular to the trapping lines – a vital design of tracking index systems that provides more accurate data. The RTI results for August 2019 are: Rat-0.67% (+/- 1%), Mouse-25.33% (+/-4%), Weta 28.67 (+/-5%). Weta are a key indicator species used for general insect population health.

And Yet More

As well as these awesome projects and results, the Trust has been busy as always with the extension of a bait line at Home Bay, checking of kiwi call data from July, judging at this year’s Northland Schools Science Fair, mapping, planning for events, such as conservation week, new signs planning and design, and assisting reserve boundary landowners with fencing. Read the full report and enjoy!