Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report September 2018

A keen team of trappers and birders listen to Mike Butcher before heading out to survey the Bream Head Reserve.

Kiaora te whanau,

Well, the weather sure has been beaut lately, I hope you have got the garden full of young veggies and are able to keep up with the grass growth. I have turned a lot of my grassed area into native tree revegetation in a thick mulch bed, and I am enjoying the dramatic reduction in maintenance at my place! September has been like most other months at Bream Head/Te Whara – busy, full of interesting observations, and the provider of some great successes.

Predator control on the reserve is returning very low trap catch and toxin uptake results, due in part to the lag effect of winter but also due to the intensive network of traps and toxin. Catches on the boundary and in the buffer area reflect that the interior of Bream Head Scenic Reserve is well protected with far fewer nasties being caught/eating toxin. Even rabbits are no match for our boundary traps, and a possum spike was quickly dealt with. Initial results of the grey faced petrels (GFP) at the eastern tip of the reserve shows a reduced number of chicks compared to last year with only four chicks found thus far at our three monitored sites (10 chicks were found and successfully fledged in 2017). The positive news is that I found another new burrow site with eight burrows and two of these have chicks in them thus far (I checked them in early August so there may be more chicks yet to be discovered). Endoscope checks of the original burrows and infra-red camera monitoring show no sign of predator effect on eggs or chicks, and adult GFP birds face a lot of hurdles during breeding such as storms at sea, infertility, partner selection – especially if its early in their breeding life cycle. I will keep an eye on the burrows as I may have missed small chicks or eggs in the low light. This just highlights the variability of environmental science and that long-term data is vital in smoothing out these variables.

The awesome news is that our volunteer and ranger team have completed the 2018 whitehead/popokatea survey and I am stoked to report that we found 39 individual birds, with a high percentage of these being unbanded progeny from last breeding season (more detail later in the report). And as if that wasn’t enough for you, a just as special event happened to me a week later as I came back from the GFP site late in the afternoon, when I saw several key bird species in one large Matai tree all singing at once. There was a whitehead/popokatea, a North Island robin/toutouwai, a bellbird/korimako, a grey warbler/riroriro, a kaka, a tui and a North Island tomtit/miromiro. Now that’s what our vision and dream is all about -seeing and hearing a whole host of lost species back together singing happily in the restored habitat!

As well as all this, September also saw fencing work done around our HQ, acoustic recorders monitoring for possible new seabird calls, BHCT judging at the Northland Secondary Schools Science Fair, another visit by Whangarei Girls High School, two events hosted as part of this year’s conservation week and a gateway student shadowed Adam for a day as part of his student development into a possible career in conservation. Of course, the team kept the traps and toxin in perfect order to keep a strangle hold on any new predator/pest invaders.

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