Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report November 2020

It was privilege to finally meet together, thank some wonderful organisations and individuals and – at last – officially open our Community Conservation Facility.

Greetings friends!

Well, it sure is warming up out there, the reserve is in good shape with recent rainfall events coming through every week or two, let’s hope it continues in that pattern for the rest of the summer. The teams have been hard at their mahi again throughout November with new volunteers lining up and joining the ranks and thankfully it has not been too hot yet. Uptake of the rodent toxin is extremely low, but we have had a few possums caught mainly on the boundary again. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) I do need to report that we have caught five stoats recently (3 in late November and 2 in early December), this comes after many locals have reported seeing stoats in multiple numbers crossing Ocean Beach Road heading south bound toward Bream Head. We are trapping as hard as we can, adding more traps where stoats have been sighted and have a stoat dog booked for January to locate any unknown wily stoats. This is all a bit disheartening after our stoat removal operation in September but is a common problem that most mainland restoration groups face, especially those at the dead end of peninsulas and without a predator proof fence. I know of several fully fenced sites that have had rat and stoat incursions this breeding season too, so it is a common problem the nation faces that we must battle to overcome.

What we do know is that our full ecosystem restoration approach, where we target all introduced mammalian predators, is effectively protecting those highly threatened invertebrates, lizards, forest habitat seed sources and a high proportion of the birds. We know this because of our continuous monitoring and surveys of predators such as rodents and possums, and from monitoring of our special threatened species such as the Bream Head skink, Placostylus hongi (Pupuharakeke/Flax Snail), quarterly five minute bird counts and biennial lizard surveys to name a few. The residual tracking index (RTI) for rodents remains extremely low throughout the reserve and possum catch rates are very low too. This means that our habitat and food source for the larger bird species (invertebrates, lizards, seeds and nectar etc.) are in particularly good condition without rats and possums destroying them. The aspiration therefore is to further reduce the stoat reinvasion threat so our more sensitive bird species can breed at even greater rates going forward. We are determined and we will persevere, looking to exciting new technologies and techniques coming out of the research teams throughout New Zealand to overcome this issue. Other awesome activities and tasks that the Trust has achieved this month include the wonderful operational facility opening evening, Whangarei Boys High School inaugural environmental education visit, install of the trap node gateway repeater, Whangarei area primary and high school’s teacher presentation evening, nursery seed germination days, shorebird nesting at Smugglers Beach, envirogroup visits with Whangarei Heads School children, track clearing, amazing pest plant control and so much more…

Read the full report (1.5MB pdf) and enjoy! Kia pai to ra, Adam Willetts, Project manager, Bream Head/Te Whara Conservation Trust.