Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report November 2019

Bye bye possums, hello summer!

Festive season’s greetings my friends!!

I hope you are all well. It’s been another hectic month at Bream Head, with some amazing new projects under way and up and running now. The Norway rat catches we experienced over the south side of Te Whara in the previous months have dropped right off. Stoat season is well and truly upon us with two stoats caught since late October (one on the northern boundary, one within the reserve). The first stoat caught was a large male a few weeks ago, most likely prospecting for mate(s), and the later stoat caught was a young male kit. The excellent news is that we still have the three grey faced petrel chicks alive in burrows (as at 29th November), one of these being a newly discovered chick by Pete Mitchell and myself on his line in the area to the west of Peach Cove Hut. Camera footage showed a stoat in this area during the time the chick was in the burrow, but it has survived the threat which is such a positive result. Trap catches on the north eastern end of the northern boundary are extremely low with only three mice caught in the last two fortnightly checks! The other end of the reserve boundary has still been catching a few rats and that stoat. In terms of endemic species we are still seeing good flocks of kaka, kereru, silver eye, tui hearing some bellbirds and plenty of shining cuckoo, grey warbler, north island tomtit as well as a few new sightings of popokatea/whitehead on the southern side of the reserve for the first time too. Our toutouwai/North Island robin must be doing well as we have seen several very young robin males in new territories.

north island robin

An un-banded north island robin with some insects for its chicks.

It is very dry in the reserve and I just do not know how the species find water and make it through the summers, but the thick canopy and good hummus leaf litter does help indeed, and this would not be possible with higher densities of mammalian browsers such as possums, pigs, goats, deer etc. So, we are very fortunate to have had DOC remove the larger browsers years ago, and together we have reduced possums to the annual average of only 0.6%. The new projects I speak of include the very important buffer predator control system we have setup with support from Northland Regional Council (NRC) who have paid the full cost for the Trust to plan, install, maintain and manage. We have also worked hand in hand with Wendy and Rupert Newbold of Ocean Beach to establish the beginnings of a native plant nursery on their land that will hopefully allow us to grow 10,000 seedlings for replanting on the reserve and the Newbolds’ paddocks. Perhaps the most noticeable and most exciting new project has been the rapid development of our headquarters at the start of the Peach Cove Track lately. Extreme volunteers Marc and Jenny Lawrence have worked long hours for about two weeks solid to install the new windows, help install the roofs over the containers and build the stunning new deck between the three shipping containers – all with two large shade sails over the deck!!

As well as these exciting new long term projects the Trust rangers, volunteers and trustees have been crazy busy with the multitude of other duties required to keep the overall programme humming such as track maintenance, bait/trap checks, sign planning, induction of new volunteers, weed control and surveys, meetings with funders, agencies and institutions. We have also had visits from Whangarei Girls High School, and a very large group from Parua Bay School.

Read the full report (1.7MB pdf) for more about these projects.