Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report October 2020

Kia ora ano koutou (hello again everybody)

How great is it to have all this consistent rain again, it is so incredibly needed for our flora and fauna on the reserve after the two very dry winters we have just experienced. I know some of you like it hot and dry all the time, but most of our New Zealand ecosystems just cannot tolerate too much dry (nor my water tanks lol)! The teams at Bream Head/Te Whara Conservation Trust (BHCT) have been hard at it again on the reserve and the buffer zone working very hard to keep the predator numbers super low and some good pest plant control too, and the outcomes are just so inspiring. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce or latest contract ranger joining the team, Keith Townsend (although a lot of you will have already met this charismatic young man). Keith is on a casual contract part time for the time being as we try to find more funding to increase his hours. Like many of us Keith has fallen in love with the Whangarei Heads area and the Bream Head/Te Whara reserve (BHSR) in particular, and he is deeply passionate about restoring the mauri to this beautiful place. Keith joins myself and the wonderful BHCT ranger Simon Braithwaite and I am really excited about the potential of this team, hopefully they will stay with us for several years at least so we can really crank out the mahi that is needed! If you see Keith I am sure he will be very happy to stop and have a chat (and a coffee) with you, he’s a really great young guy and we are very happy to have him join our whanau (just make sure you don’t chat too long, he has important work to do you know lol).

Too Many Stoats

Unfortunately, I have to report that our monitored grey faced petrel (gfp) chicks have not fared too well, with only three of the possible 13 making it through and surviving thus far (c. 9/11/2020). During and post the stoat control operation undertaken throughout the reserve in August/September, several local residents on the Urquhart Bay and Ocean Beach areas reported multiple stoat sightings, crossing Ocean Beach road heading toward the reserve – just imagine if this many stoats were seen when a few people were on the road for a short period, how many unseen stoats made it to the reserve during the other hours in the day! And the BHSR is the end of the line for stoats migrating through the Whangarei Heads peninsula, this means we are the catch net where they hold up in and enjoy all the easy to catch, beautiful endemic invertebrate, lizard and bird species we have worked so hard to protect. We are throwing everything into protecting these last three gfp, trying all sorts of possible lure changes and different trap locations etc, in an effort to attract the stoat(s) into our DOC200 stoat traps.

Other Pest Numbers Low

On a more positive note it is good to report that rodent toxin uptake and catches remain incredibly low, and our toxin switch-out for the stoat operation looks to have cleaned out any toxin shy rodents. Possum catches are super low too, with only a few possums being caught in the last few months, these being mainly caught on the boundary and the total possum catches far lower than this time in 2019. There has been some other great mahi completed out on the reserve and in the meeting rooms again this month with pest plant control, plant nursery working bees, organisation for the community facility opening, toxin bagging, new technology planning and purchases, gfp monitoring, enviro-group predator control at Whangarei Heads School, strategic planning, lots of track maintenance with the spring growth and heavy rains, education planning, supply orders and so much more!

Read the full Rangers Report (1.5MB pdf) for more on these and other local stories.


Keith Townsend

New BHCT ranger Keith Towsend.