Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report October 2018

Grey faced petrels have a new burrow site but sadly abandoned this egg.

Nga mihi,

It’s been another month full of great mahi out on the reserve with the place full of volunteers, researchers, rangers and bird enthusiasts getting out there and doing the yards. The weather has been pretty kind and it has been a great pleasure to see intense flowering of many plant species, as well as the arrival of new fledglings, the offspring of lizards and young invertebrates – gotta love spring time! Predator control continues to demonstrate very low toxin take and trap catch rates, except for a possible rat issue on one of the eastern lines below the radar station. We are loading this line up a bit more and checking more often to address this issue. The majority of catches are still showing up on the boundary line system and we have not yet seen any stoats, even though it is coming into the season for stoat young to be active. We have caught a few possums on the boundary over the past few months and these have been caught on the Steve Allen Kat traps recently installed. This trap has the added benefit of being able to catch possums (and even rats), it is a nice and simple trap that seems to not deter cautious predators which is a negative effect of other traps that require entry into a box type system. In terms of species monitoring we are happy to announce that 47 whitehead/popokatea birds were seen/heard during this season’s survey. A high percentage were progeny from last season, revealing that we did indeed have a good successful first season breed in late 2017. Translocation expert Kevin Parker is delighted with this result and congratulates the Trust for the obvious protection of these special manu through our intensive predator control system and for our ongoing monitoring.
The grey faced petrels (GFP) are also doing well this season, with six chicks known to occupy burrows at our study site. This is slightly down on the 10 we had last season but is comparative to other monitored GFP sites on the mainland. The reports are of a later breeding season this year with fewer chicks hatching, and this is another reflection of the variability of species monitoring, and why long term data sets are required to ‘smooth’ out this ‘noise’ in the data in order to make more precise conclusions. We have infrared cameras monitoring the burrows of the chicks 24/7, just like we did last season, in the anticipation that we will see the chicks emerge from early December to stretch and train their wings for 10 nights before flying off on their life journeys – hopefully to return in 4-5 years’ time. We also hope to band some of these chicks before they leave us so we can see if they are returning and breeding successfully themselves. Out of the study site ranger Adam Willetts has found 13 more GFP burrows (three of which have chicks present) not previously discovered, so the known number of sites and birds is increasing each year. In a related topic, the Trust is now able for the first time to install acoustic recording devices to monitor for other seabirds who may now be starting to use BHSR for breeding, such as common diving petrels, cooks petrels and flesh footed petrels.

Other happenings this month include the special mouse monitoring project in conjunction with Northtec, DOC and BHCT which is going very well, a new rat toxin/possum line has been put under the northern side of the GFP burrow sites and the rangers have kept the kauri dieback cleaning stations topped up during this already busy start to the Te Araroa walking season.

If you would like to know more about some of these cool items read the full report and enjoy!