Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report June 2020

Well it has been a super busy month for the Trust rangers and volunteers with some wonderful achievements and some interesting incidents. The first thing I would like to do is congratulate the Trust on receiving the Northland Regional Council (NRC) Environmental Award for best pest management in 2020!

The NRC pest management award recognises the leading pest control mahi of the Trust in Northland and the very positive species recovery outcomes this control has provided in the Bream Head/Te Whara Scenic Reserve. We were also notably recognised for our use and organisation of many local community volunteers throughout our mahi.

Zero percent!

The other outstanding achievement has been the rodent residual tracking index (RTI) for June, which came in at 0% for rats for the first time since the Trust has been conducting this monitoring (2011). Never before have we had a 0% RTI for rats in May/June and this maybe a sign that the buffer control network, combined with our intensive rodent control network in the reserve, is making it very difficult for rats to get through and breed. As I have said before, this 0% is a snap shot index, it has a margin of error and there will be ‘leaks’ of rats penetrating into the reserve, but it’s the fact that they cannot breed up and that it is great comparative data over time which demonstrates we are most definitely managing this particular pest very well indeed with our systems of control.

Preparing for stoat control

As you may be aware we have removed all the rodent toxin in preparation for our stoat control operation in August but the team have still been checking and servicing our possum traps on the toxin lines as well as the stoat/possum/feral cat traps on the boundary, main ridge and southern side. Trap catches have remained exceptionally low within the reserve, but we have picked up a couple of stoats along the boundary over the last two months. The forest vegetation impacted by the long drought is showing signs of a bounce back, however many are still looking like they will not make it.

Busy times are back

Other things that have occurred during June were the install of acoustic recorders at key locations monitoring the southern side of the reserve as part of our new and more intensified seabird detection operation. We have had a wonderful volunteer training/social get together evening at the McLeod Bay hall, inducted and trained up new trap and toxin line volunteers, as well as the training and qualification of five volunteers with controlled substance licences. Our communications team have put together another stunning annual newsletter jam packed with awesome stories and images, with a huge BHCT thank you to Helen Beran and Claire Pearson for developing this great piece of communication art! I was so delighted to return to the school planting valley behind Urquhart Bay and see the incredible growth of a young emergent forest from the small seedlings we planted only a few years ago. There was also the removal finally of the boat wreckage from Smugglers Beach by the Whangarei Heads Volunteer Fire Brigade.

School group tree planting.

Young environmentalist from Whangarei Heads School planting trees in 2016.

The Trust experienced its first ever incident that required a full emergency recovery operation of one of the volunteers including a helicopter lift of our patient from the dense bush on the upper northern slope. And finally, we regrettably received the news that our ranger Michael Ramsbottom, who had only worked for the trust for just over six months, wished to resign from the ranger position in June. This has left a big hole in the ranger team as Michael was just starting to really perform at the level which made my job a whole lot easier. Michael was/is a truly kind, caring, and calm person who we all liked very much. Michael has moved onto working as a tutor in pest management at Northtec in the agriculture and forestry division. The Trust wishes Michael all the very best in his future career and personal life – see you in the surf mate!!

Young forest.

In mid-2020 we see strong growth in the young forest planted by Whangarei Heads school.


Read the full Rangers Report (1.4MB pdf) for more on these and other local stories!