Project News

Rangers Report June 2023

Rangers Report June 2023

Predator Control

Uptake of ratabate in bait stations across the reserve has reduced slightly from ~75% in past months to ~50%. Uptake in our more intensified grid amongst the Kakerakau (Bream Head Skink) population was ~90% in May and dropped to ~70% in April. We are hoping this drop means less rodents in the reserve. Unfortunately our rodent tracking tunnel lines are still not operational, so it is tricky to say what exactly is happening with the rodent population inside the reserve.

Catches in the past two months are relatively similar to catches in Mar-Apr, but numbers have dropped slightly. We are putting a lot of effort into our trapping network since it is a critical time for catching mustelids. Stoats (photo to the right) are very hungry during winter, especially lactating females are likely to take more risks when feeding.

Camera Detection

During May, two possums were detected on cameras. One on Busby Head and one near the old woman. Shortly after, two possums were caught in the same areas, so we are hoping the individuals caught were the ones that were detected by cameras. There were no possum sightings during June, which supports the theory that both detected in May were eventually caught. Since the end of last year we have struggled to collect data from all of the 34 cameras, so it is possible there are some holes in the network. Regardless, there are possum traps throughout the reserve that would snatch any unknown incursions.

Weed Control

We have managed to fit a few days in with Aki Tai Here, controlling moth plant on the north side of the reserve. We have just rreceived around $20,000 per year (for three years) from the DOC community fund to do more work in this space. This is really exciting because weed control has needed more attention for a long time. It gives us the chance to continue working with Aki Tai Here who have been great to work with. Thank you to Jenny Lawrence who put a lot of effort into this application!

Ōi - Grey Faced Petrels

Back in June, ranger Tom Grinsted observed plenty of Ōi/grey-faced petrel nest prepping activity whilst servicing the traps along the ‘J line’ ridge where three of our study sites are. These birds come back in winter to start off their breeding season. During May, rangers Tom and David, PhD student Michael Fox, volunteer Grant Stevens and myself (Tom FP), climbed up to the nesting area to prepare the sites for the coming nesting period. Our focus was to service the extensive trap/bait station network and re-establish our trail cameras for monitoring burrow sites. We were surprised to find a stoat in one of our DOC200 traps at the site. This is the first stoat catch we have had up there for quite some time. One less sneaky stoat to wreak havoc on the nesting season out of the way! First checks of the cameras have shown that there are a few stoats in the area which we will be working very hard to catch this year. We have been looking into new techniques and how to implement them. Cathy and Pete will be heading up for their first burrow check of the season in August, so we will keep the updates coming!

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