Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report Sep-Oct 2019

A big two months with ranger changes, a buffer zone and the sad loss of grey faced petrel chicks.

Kiaora te whanau,

Firstly, an apology for not supplying you all with a September ranger’s report, however with the need to find a new ranger and a few extra projects going on I was unable to find the time to write said report. However, luckily for you we now have this double cracker ranger report – here’s two months’ worth of Bream Head magic for you to soak up. Ahhh, it’s time to relax, you know what that means, a glass of wine, your favourite easy chair and of course this awesome rangers’ report in your hand. So go on, indulge yourself, that’s right, kick off your shoes, put your feet up, lean back and just enjoy the poetic literature…after all, reading soothes even the craziest of days. Whoa, what a hectic period it has been in and around the project. I often catch myself thinking – don’t worry Adam, it’s just a short busy time, things will slow down soon…yeah right! But that is the beauty of this wonderful mahi that we are involved in, all the community conservation groups including Bream Head Conservation Trust seem constantly busy in our push to restore and protect our natural taonga – and that gives me great hope and happiness. In October we had to say farewell/haere ra to our wonderful Ripley Dean, the Trusts’ fifth ranger who continued the excellence of this project. Ripley has not totally left us as she has joined Northland Regional Council (NRC) to work on the delivery of a predator free Whangarei. So, we are sure to see Ripley in her new role around our neck of the woods as she works closely with our communities on this exciting prospect. With the departure of Ripley looming we decided to find a suitable replacement fast, and we certainly did score highly. Our new ranger Michael Ramsbottom of Pataua North comes with excellent experience and qualifications. Michael is a really nice guy who lives and breathes sustainability and ecological restoration, and he is an excellent listener with loads of positivity. The Trust welcomes Michael to the whanau and hopes he enjoys many years with us.

In terms of catch rates, the predator control operation is ticking along well with similar catch rates to 2018 being observed. However, it appears that all the GFP chicks in the study site were predated in October by stoat(s), like what happened in the 2016 breeding season. There are still two chicks alive in burrows to the east and west of the study site (as of 30th October) which is a positive sign. I have had word that the GFP breeding season at Tawharanui has lost most of their chicks, although I do not know the reason for their loss. After our GFP chick loss in 2016 we initiated the ground based 1080 delivery, which saw two consecutive years of 100% successful GFP chick fledging. Therefore, the Trust will be conducting its ground based 1080 control every two years from now on to remove trap shy stoats and hopefully clean up Norway rats too, who seem less convinced of the Pindone toxin. Of particular interest is the fact that possums caught so far this year by the Trust are up over three fold from 10 in 2018, to 34 in 2019. It is good to note that only eight of these 34 possums made it through the intensive boundary trap network, with 26 possums caught on said boundary. During September we also witnessed an increase in the number of Norway rats being caught in the south eastern area of the reserve, in DOC200 traps. We have responded with the addition of a short line in a gap area of the current control network in this area. To this line we have added Snap-e rodent traps every 50m along the line as well as lowering the toxin stations every 50m in between each snap trap in an attempt to lure Norway rats to the toxin at a height they can easily access. We have also added four trail cameras focused on four stations in this area to check if they will indeed go for the toxin at the lower height. However, the rate of Norway rat catches in the same area has slowed in October just gone, with only two rats caught compared to the five caught in September. As always, we will monitor closely what is going on and place trust in our intensive control network and ground based 1080 every two years, as well as the investigation of introducing new control/monitoring technologies if proven and required.

Snap-e rat trap boxes

Snap-e rat trap boxes and other equipment were hauled over to the south side and installed.

So, a couple of bumps in the road but these are manageable, and it is heartening to know that because we monitor the predator control and species management so closely we are able to make informed decisions to manage these threats. If we didn’t monitor, we would have had no idea about these issues until it might have been too late for protection of other species, or to get predator fluctuations under control. Other happenings in and around the project for the past two months include the post translocation bird survey, working with Whangarei Heads School children, the initial development of our tree nursery, installation of a buffer predator control network in conjunction with NRC, conservation week action and activities by the Trust, the install of the rodent response system, re-certification of the BHCT rangers for a controlled substance licence, contracts funds secured from DOC for more important mahi on the reserve, induction of more wonderful volunteers and a visit by Predator Free NZ as part of an initial look into the planning behind predator free Whangarei Heads. Read the full report (2MB pdf) for more in depth information about these projects and more.