Bream Head Reserve from Manaia

Rangers Report September 2020

Kia ora mai koutou,

Operationally September has been another hectic month for the project, with hundreds of volunteer and ranger hours being spent working hard to keep predator numbers low and to monitor species outcomes. Of particular note has been the success of the Trust in another fund application with the Department of Conservation (DOC), this time for new technological equipment that will not only allow us to better control predators but also help us become more efficient in predator control. If all goes well, this improvement in efficiency will also translate into better use of our human resources and the eventual shift of some of this capacity into other new projects. As well as this, our wonderful teams behind the scenes have continued their important mahi to try and keep funds rolling in, educational groups active and interested, potential research and development partners engaged, structures built and maintained, contracts serviced and communications and events rolling along.

Best Ever Weta Tracking Index

Out on the reserve it is extremely quiet in the traps and the bait stations since our toxin operation to wipe out any resident stoats. For example, in the week 21-27 September we only caught three mice along the entire 7.5km boundary line, which has over 150 trap devices! Since the stoat operation we have shifted back to applying our normal rodent toxin into bait stations and uptake is almost undetectable from rodents. I am happy to report that we had another extremely low residual tracking index (RTI) result for rodents in September as part of our routine rodent monitoring programme. The RTI was an impressively low 0.67% (+/- 1%), mice came in at 27.94% (+/- 7%) and finally a weta tracking index of 51.74% (+/- 6%). What I really like about these figures is the ever increasing weta abundance (key invertebrate indicator), and 51.74% is by far the highest index for weta we have recorded by this method since the Trust started intensively managing the reserve in 2010!! A huge thanks to Grant Stevens again for helping the ranger team with this important monitoring. Why I really like these monitoring figures is that they further quantify the low trap catch rate and toxin uptake data, if we had higher rodent numbers that we were not detecting in our monitoring, we would not be seeing the continued increase in invertebrate abundance; or lizards, or birds for that matter too. I have also enjoyed hearing positive comments lately from people coming back off the reserve or even some of our Peach Cove hut maintenance team (Bridget Ross and Family), who reported saying they loved their walk but were getting so distracted by all the bird life – now that’s a good problem to have.

Ticking Along

As well as all this critical predator control mahi there have been other important projects ticking along including the Forest restoration Team (FORT) smashing out more invasive weeds, educational visits by two Whangarei Girls High School groups, a visit by Parua Bay Primary School to our plant nursery, a very successful predator control workshop for volunteers new and current, our buffer control checks, loads of meetings, seabird detection and analysis, Smugglers maintenance and Busby Head Trappers volunteer groups in action, track and hut maintenance, planning for new technology, rabbit cutting bench and drying rack built at HQ by Marc Lawrence, and these cool new car magnet signs for the ranger vehicles.

Read the full Rangers Report (2.0MB pdf) for more on these and other local stories!