Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report June 2019

A warm social gathering of volunteers hears from our rangers about current projects and new innovations.

Kia ora/gidday folks,

Another month has flown on by with some good rain at last and some nice days on the reserve too. It was ‘steady as she goes’ in terms of our on the ground operations in June with toxin uptake and trap catches slowing down slightly. However, looking at the data in the full report, this season is still tracking higher than at the same time last year for most predator types caught. The only exception being weasels, who returned half the number caught than June last year. So, it appears that the mast breeding season is still having implications for predator numbers caught.

As always, plenty of behind the scene planning, administration and governance continued through June with some very important strategic meetings and conversations being had. I have delayed the directional listening and acoustic recordings of kiwi near Peach Cove Hut until the later period of the national kiwi listening dates which run from June 22 – 9 July. This is because the unseasonably dry weather we have experienced over the last six months has caused a significant reduction in kiwi calls. Results from the recorders and the directional kiwi listening I will have done in the area should hopefully be more consistent with other years now that the ground water table has improved somewhat and the kiwi have more invertebrate food supplies, allowing the kiwi to display more normal behavioural patterns for this time of year. Keeping on the theme of birds, I visited the grey faced petrel (GFP) study burrow sites in early June and found some good sign of prospecting birds revisiting the burrows, with guano (seabird faecal matter) and newly dug soils just outside a good percentage of the burrows. By mid to late July we should hopefully see some of the first GFP adults returning to lay their eggs and this will see the start of the five to six month intensified monitoring and trapping within these breeding sites by myself and Cathy Mitchell. I will be installing tracking cards into the corflute tunnels onsite in early July to detect if any rats are in the area, with my repeat inspections occurring every fortnight right through until the chicks fledge in December/January (hopefully we get more chicks again this year).

Summing up the highlights of the past month, our teams were busy with all the organisation and implementation of the volunteer social/workshop evening, high school educational activities, the arrival of the stunning two new marquees, more upgrades to our operational headquarters, detailed mapping and the protection and monitoring of GFP during prospecting. As well as all this there has been the continuation of the very cool ‘walk’n’talk’ activity, where our brilliant ranger Ripley Dean heads out on trapping lines with selected volunteers each month to see how they are doing and get to know them a bit better. The other big project that Ripley and I worked on over June is the draft BHCT pest plant management plan, which we hope to have to the rangers committee in early July. This plan outlines the raw detail of how we intend to contain and eventually eliminate weeds on the reserve. Excitingly we have received $15k from DOC each year for at least the next three years to help tackle this issue, and we are very grateful to our local DOC biodiversity team for advocating that the Trust manages this fund and get the job done!!

If this all sounds good to you, then read the full report for more detail and some cool photos!