Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report July 2018

Kauri die-back cleaning stations are now at the base of Mt. Lion and on the Peach Cove Track.

I hope this report finds you well and warm, although the weather in later July has been so calm and clear that its been a very pleasurable mid-winter season indeed! Finally, finally – the pests and predators have slowed down their high toxin take from our bait stations, with very few trap catches within the reserve interior again. Of the total 14 rats caught, only two of these were in traps within the interior of the reserve. You may note from the data in the full report that our catch totals for this year are a lot higher than for the same time in 2017. As previously stated, it is not a fair comparison between past data and this year due to the fact that we have installed over 130 new traps along our northern boundary to intensify this defensive ‘wall’. Therefore, we have a far greater trap availability, which has led to far higher trap catch values in 2018. When we come to analyse 2019 to 2018 trap data, the results will be of a fairer comparison. The reduction in toxin uptake allows the rangers and volunteers to breath a sigh of relief (for now) as we do not have to carry in and out so much toxin. But, it does not mean we reduce our rate of checks, nor the quality of our toxin and trap bait delivery! Just because the nasties have reduced their consumption, it does not mean they have gone away, so we still have to deliver the highest quality baits in the most impeccably well-maintained traps and toxin stations. The teams have been fastidious in testing and resetting their traps and replacing the older toxin, so the very best is on offer that we can achieve.

Our hard-working ranger Bruce Cole-Baker has continued his assault on moth plant around the central northern area of the reserve, as well as the Smugglers maintenance team at the top of Home Bay. We really have made a big impact on the mature population of this nasty plant, significantly reducing the chance of further spread and making it far simpler to return and control the few low seedlings. The dynamic trio of Bill Mallett, Geoff Pike and Keith Hawkins have done some very fine weed control around the steep banks of Dead Horse Bay…eradicating some large elaeagnus, some lantana and a few young Phoenix palms (all potentially very invasive pest plants). Even with the shorter daylight hours and slippery conditions lots of other monitoring, biosecurity, weed control and other activities have been going on in the reserve. In brief summary; we have deferred our Whitehead post-release abundance survey until mid-September, when the birds should be displaying their best breeding behaviours, which should allow easier monitoring for our teams of this rather illusive bird. The five-minute bird count teams have completed the mid-winter survey, with poor Anne McCracken breaking her ankle on the main public track – now that’s some serious commitment right there! I have had some very exciting trips out to the ‘Old Woman’ area in early July and have discovered more new grey faced petrel (Pterodroma macroptera gouldi) burrows with adult birds in them, as well as some birds now in old burrows previously empty over the last few seasons! Our amazing bird monitoring coordinator, Mike Butcher, has been using recently purchased software to listen to acoustic recordings from July and provide call data results in a far more efficient manner. The operational facility (our two shipping containers) at Ocean Beach have been temporarily shifted across the drive so that a low retaining wall can be erected on the southern side of the site, and in preparation for the future development of this site into an improved facility. Many of our volunteers working on the steep, rugged terrain of Bream Head/Te Whara have recently enjoyed purchasing much needed quality equipment such as boots, good socks and other gear via a kind discount offer from our local Hunting and Fishing store in Okara. Two barrel and grate kauri dieback cleaning stations have been added to the start of the Peach Cove track and the base of the Mt Lion/Maturiki steps, in a step up (forgive the terrible pun) to try and prevent this horrid disease from entering the reserve.

As always, a tremendous amount of unpaid, relatively unnoticed but absolutely vital work has gone on behind the scenes with our Trustees and our education and communication committees. The committees have been very busy recently, preparing for our volunteer/friends’ celebration event, updating our website, compiling the annual newsletter, working with local media, planning for conservation week, working with Whangarei Girls High School on designs for our future HQ facility, BHCT involvement in the local schools’ science fair and the hosting of gateway students from Tauaroa Area School. Phew – I don’t know how they keep up with it all.

If you would like to know more about some of these cool items read on and enjoy!