Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report March 2020

Just before lock down ranger Michael Ramsbottom rescued Kaha the Kiwi. We’re pleased to report Kaha made a good recovery and is back in the Reserve.

Kiaora te whanau,

Well, what an interesting time this is, the general consensus among those I have been communicating with is how lucky we are to live in a place like Whangarei Heads. It’s times like these that people seem to appreciate and value nature even more and enjoy the natural health benefits of a healthy environment for reflection, recreation and refreshing one’s body, mind and soul! I worked in Christchurch as a ranger/project manager of a regional park though the earthquakes, and immediately people flocked to our open spaces for solace, to calm nerves, to rebuild themselves – this is one of the greatest benefits of having healthy open spaces and environment in our societies. This availability to reconnect with nature is so vital to our health during our normal busy lives and in times of uncertainty, and why I believe nature, reserves, parks, clean healthy environments and the restoration and maintenance of them must be valued more highly in our society – they are as important as hospitals in my opinion!

Injury Risk

Unfortunately, our mahi is not seen as essential during this time, mainly to do with the risk of us getting injured and putting pressure on stretched emergency services. Fortunately however, for the Trust rangers and volunteers we were able to complete our usual predator control checks in the early weeks of March, right up to the start of the lock down so that the species within our reserve are still under good protection during this time. Michael, Marc Lawrence (BHCT Volunteer) and I utilised the last two days before lock down to check all the mustelid/cat/possum/rat traps along the boundary and in the reserve. Extra toxin was added to stations along the boundary and the DOC200 traps reverted to hen egg with mayo because the egg will last longer as a lure than salted rabbit. With the weather staying dry the baits should last well and the increased rodent toxin uptake observed in boundary stations just prior to lock down should be well managed with the extra toxin.

K9 Mustelid Survey

Looking at the predator control tables (in the full report) it is good to see that we are tracking similar to this time in 2019, however our overall trap catches for the year to date is a bit lower than previous years which is a good trending sign. We were able to just squeeze in a full reserve K9 survey of mustelids using a conservation dog contractor. This survey showed a couple of positive signs made by the dogs on the central north side and some stoat scat was found on the main ridge track too. These findings are most likely those of trap shy stoats residing in the reserve, and this is the reason we will be conducting our second ground based 1080 operation in the coming spring. These acute toxin pulses are excellent at cleaning up these trap shy predators before they rip apart our sensitive species breeding in summer such as grey faced petrel, kiwi and any lizards too (all studied gfp chicks were predated by stoat(s) this summer gone). We had two years of 100% gfp breeding success following our first 1080 pulse in spring 2017.

Activities Before Lock Down

There were some other positive things going on with the project throughout and up to the 25th March, such as another Whangarei Girls High school visit, the construction of the frame for a permanent roof, planting of native trees/shrubs and a hand cleaning station at our operational facility, as well as the install of a large kauri die-back station at Ocean Beach. Some good planning and fund bids have also been developed during the month and lock down period looking at new trap and monitoring technology aimed at increasing our efficiency, trap catch success and shift of resources from these gained efficiencies. Read the full report (1.5MB pdf) for more news and the full story about Kaha the Kiwi!