Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report February 2019

A sad farewell to a wonderful ranger, a happy hello to another!

Things are really dry in the reserve but the ngahere (bush) is holding up okay due to the small rain falls we have had sporadically during February. The lack of any decent large rain events this summer has allowed the invertebrate world to thrive in the perfect breeding weather, especially the introduced invasive vespular wasps such as the German wasp. The ground nests of these wasps have not been flooded out and the mild/drier winter past allowed them to carry over their nests into last spring. We have video of walking sticks being stung to death by these nasty blighters, and many other important insects will be part of their protein diet as they feed up their pupae in the nests. This has a direct impact on the food source of our native birds and lizards.

Vespular Wasp Control

Many of our volunteers out on the trap/toxin lines have been stung multiple times lately and the numbers of wasps is far higher than I have seen in the five years I have been working at Bream Head. Therefore, the Trust has fast tracked some funds to purchase the latest vespular wasp control toxin that they are using in the beech forests down Nelson way. This only attracts protein feeding wasps so bees and other non-target catch will not eat the toxin. This project will cover the full 805ha reserve and is due to be implemented in early March. This should significantly reduce wasps’ nests in and immediately around the reserve, and repeat controls will occur if monitoring again shows high numbers in future summers.

Changes for the Rangers

It’s been another hectic month for the operations team, especially without a second full time ranger on deck. I have been running around feeling a bit out of control but with my awesome volunteer team we have managed to keep up with the high work load. The fantastic news is that we have secured the contract services of a new and very awesome ranger, her name is Ripley Dean and she comes highly qualified and experienced and some of you already know her. I am so stoked to have a male/female ranger team and really look forward to having Ripley lead some projects and get her teeth into the mahi on Te Whara, I have written more about Ripley on our Facebook page and she will feature in the Whangarei Heads Newsletter due mid-March. Further on in the full report I have written a section about Bruce Cole-Baker leaving and the appointment of Ripley, so please read my friends.

Mahi in the Heat

There’s been so much great mahi going on in February by so many people, working in the heat and still smiling away as they do it. Trust rangers and volunteers have continued maintenance of the Kauri dieback stations under contract with DOC, wilding pines have been ring barked over the north aspect of the reserve by Paul Cornille and should show signs of dying within 6-12 months, the biennial lizard survey has been carried out with good numbers caught and seen, we have had a stoat detection dog conduct a survey over key areas of the reserve, the last grey faced petrel fledged on the 8th of February ending another 100% successful gfp fledging season. Adam has conducted talks and the restoration game with two schools, the rangers have worked with DOC staff to intensively control climbing asparagus sites, DOC ropes safe staff have worked on the reserve’s steep eastern faces to try and control moth plant out that way, and of course our awesome volunteer teams including the Busby Head and Smugglers Bay crews have continued to keep the predator control network in its best possible condition as well as tackle the maintenance of tracks and all those nasty weeds. Phew, maybe March will be a bit quieter for the team – I doubt it! Read on for the control and monitoring statistics as well as a more in-depth look into some of the key items listed above.

If you would like to know more about some of these cool items read the full report!