Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report January 2019

This stoat got close to our petrel chicks, but a cat trap saved the day.

Nga mihi mahana, boy its hot out there, I hope you are all coping with the warm weather and your tanks have enough water. The native species will be struggling a bit with the dry but the dense canopy of trees in the valleys and on the south side of the reserve are helping to retain some moisture in the leaf hummus and soil. This translates into a better survival chance for invertebrates, which provides vital food and moisture for others further up the food chain (such as kiwi).

The Wonderful Bruce Cole-Baker

Unfortunately, our wonderful time with Bruce Cole-Baker as field contract ranger has come to an end as I write this. Bruce has left the Trust to have back surgery, and then his beautiful family plan to leave us for a new adventure in the USA. I will write up a better tribute to Bruce next month (there was a tribute to him on our Facebook page recently). What this means is that until a replacement (big shoes to fill) has been found, I am alone running the ship, and February is turning out to be a very busy month as it is. I do have some support from ex ranger Pete Mitchell which is greatly appreciated. Therefore, this report is going to be very short my friends, as I just simply do not have the time to do a detailed document.

Fledglings and Predators

So, we have had another great summer with stoat numbers relatively low, which I am so excited to say has allowed the five monitored grey faced petrel (gfp) chicks to fledge successfully in late January. This is the second season that we have had a 100% successful fledging rate of our monitored gfp. This outcome is such a strong reflection of the success of the Trusts’ predator control and monitoring programme and is a very big deal in mainland ecological restoration because these seabirds are highly sensitive to predation by rats and stoats. Let’s not forget this is being led by community on the mainland, without a predator proof fence! We have caught seven stoats in December 2018, but only one in January 2019 bringing the summer stoat season catches to a total of eight, which is the same as 2017. You will see in the table in the full report that we did catch 10 stoats over the calendar year for 2018, but we usually look at the summer catch figures for stoats over a December and January period. The really positive news is that both the 2017/2018 and the 2018/2019 summer seasons catch totals are quite a bit less than the 13 caught in 2016/2017.

Pest Numbers

You can see that the 2018 rat, mouse and weasel catch totals are far higher than in 2017. As I have noted in my previous reports this is all down to the fact that we added 123 new snap-e rat traps to the northern boundary in 2018 (which are great at catching rats, mice and weasels), and that we intensified the possum and feral cat traps on this line also. Therefore, it is totally acceptable that there is going to be a large total catch rate differential in 2018 compared to previous years’ total catch rates for these predators. We will hopefully see a more balanced total catch rate by the end of 2019 when we can fairly compare the results.

The other fantastic news is that the annual average residual tracking index (RTI) for rats in 2018 has stayed at a very impressive 1.3%. This means that if we were to install a rat trap anywhere within the reserve our chances of catching a rat is only 1.3%. Our wonderful volunteers have continued to battle though the heat to keep our traps and toxin stations in tip top condition. We have shot some cool videos of how to check and reset traps, toxin stations and some monitoring equipment for volunteers to keep well trained. Our bird monitoring team have conducted five-minute bird counts for the summer with plenty of native species picked up in the surveys. And, if all this wasn’t enough for you, our acoustic recorders have discovered ground calls from cooks petrels and fluttering shearwaters within Bream Head/Te Whara!! The
Trust is keen to follow up this result by being able to find capacity to search for burrows of these two seabirds, just like we did with the gfp.

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