Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report May 2021

Cooler autumn days make pleasant conditions for work on the reserve and for native fungi.

Kia ora mai koutou

I do not know about you, but I am really enjoying these cooler days and nights, makes it a lot nicer to get outside and do some mahi without dripping with sweat all the time! We are still in need of some good rainfall events, as anyone who has put a spade in the ground lately will know it is still dry right up to the surface of the soil in most places, especially out on Bream Head Scenic Reserve. As I wrote last month, the birds within the reserve are still happy with the current conditions and continue to sing their little hearts out each day, it is just so nice to hear bellbird/korimako every morning at our headquarter facility.

Boundary nodes

Operationally things have been ticking along very nicely. The ranger team have finished installing the nodes and automated lure dispensers to the stoat traps along Ocean Beach Road and the Northern boundary. We are just waiting on the software from our supplier to provide us with daily live reporting data from the nodes about when they have been set off so we can respond accordingly. Our awesome troop of volunteers have been busy maintaining the rodent toxin and possum trap network, including the installation of the new toxin known as double tap as well as lowering of the toxin stations to near ground level. As previously discussed, these two new measures should have an even greater impact on the very few remaining Norway and ship rats, as well as the mice population through bait switch out and the improved access to toxin for the more ground based Norway rats. The month of May will see our first 2021 tracking tunnel survey for rodents and I am particularly keen to see the resulting index figures, hopefully the change out in bait and lower stations have the positive effect we desire.

One more stoat

Unfortunately, our predator control data for April 2020 was not recorded because the rangers and volunteers were not allowed access to the reserve during lockdown. This therefore makes it impossible to compare the April data from the two years which will impact the results of the overall year end total catch data too. However, as usual for autumn, mice catch rates have increased markedly on the summer months as rodents switch to the reliable toxin food source now that other natural foods like seeds are dwindling and as they feed up for the leaner winter ahead. One more cunning stoat was caught during the month, which are really big wins because removing a mature stoat before the spring season is removing a big potential breeding threat. Late in April the Trust was fortunate to have the services of our regular professional conservation dog handler and her dog to scout the entire reserve for sign of stoat. Last year we did the same survey and the dog found only two stat indications, and a stoat was caught shortly after at both sites. Extra control devices have been installed now at this year’s two indication sites and hopefully we will have success at catching these trap shy stoats once again. The team will add in the PAPP toxin pulse to directly target stoats once we receive DOC permission to do so.

Other tasks and activities

This month saw lots of other tasks and activities achieved such as:

  • the induction of some awesome, fit and enthusiastic volunteers
  • the attendance of a workshop on zero invasive predator innovations
  • liaisons with key suppliers and their latest technical devices and advice
  • track and hut maintenance
  • mapping, planning of new trap layouts in gap areas
  • pest plant control hit outs
  • the arrival of new plant nursery equipment and the planning for a new shade house
  • the very important five minute bird call count monitoring conducted all over the reserve which provides vital species abundance data used to assess the success of the Trust’s predator control and species management at Bream Head/Te Whara Scenic Reserve.

Read the full report for reports from our other rangers and highlights of the month.