We were expecting 4 workers to assist with weeding around the trees planted by Takapuna Intermediate/Trees for survival and were pleasantly surprised when we ended up with 9 enthusiastic volunteers. Unfortunately a lot of the smaller plants did not survive the dry summer including the cabbage trees which were eco-sourced and re-planted last winter. According to Mike Francis, the chemicals sprayed to enhance his maize crop also caused the kikuyu to go crazy and this was very evident in this fenced area. The stream bed had disappeared and further spraying will be necessary in advance of the planting day in August. Despite the number of plants lost, there are some very healthy specimens present, particularly the coprosma and flaxes which seem to thrive in the environment.
We had a good turn-out for the Community planting day held on 11 April. 16 volunteers assisted with clearing weeds, including deadly nightshade, tobacco plant, ginger, moth plant, jasmine, honeysuckle and tradescantia in the wetland area behind the brown cottage and along the coastal walkway. Manuka, kanuka and pratia angulata, funded by Auckland Council’s Community Education Fund, were later planted. We had planned to spray the area prior to planting but ran out of time. Much to our delight, a significant number of native seedlings were discovered under the weeds, confirming the importance of hand weeding once native plants become more established.
Pratia angulata was chosen as a ground cover to replace Tradescantia. Poroporo has also been recommended.
Arthur and Trish Gundy prepared a delicious spit roast lunch which was enjoyed by everyone.
Unfortunately our first planned weeding/planting day had to be cancelled due to cyclone Pam. On 29 March we continued work on the Gundy’s property; clearing weeds on the borders of the stream. Thanks to our volunteers Jo and Sue Evans, Richard Taylor, Arthur and Trish Gundy and John Harvey 3.5 hours were spent clearing areas which had previously been worked on. Clearing Tradescantia does appear to be a rather sole-destroying task but we are determined to win the battle!
We have a contest underway. Jo Evans has managed to catch 3 more stoats in the past two weeks; almost matching our count for the whole year.
More traps have been purchased and with the help of Ditch, from Coastal Pest Solutions, we plan to set up a stoat line which will be monitored regularly.
4 hours were spent clearing cotoneaster as well as other weeds and spraying periwinkle on the Carlyon’s property in preparation for planting this area at the end of May.
Due to an extremely hot summer, we have made very little progress in the valley although we managed to pull out a bit of moth plant. The rabbit population has increased and pest control expert, Ditch Keeling, will be targeting the area within the next few weeks.
A big thanks to Jo Evans and Sue Gibbings who have been carrying out pest control along Tenetahi Rd. Their recent catch includes four rats and one stoat, dispelling the theory that all the stoats are located on the Mt Pleasant side of the valley!
Sunday 26 October
It seems to be a matter of one step forward and two backwards when it comes to clearing this nasty weed. We revisited areas where we had previously cleared tradescantia to find that it was at least ankle deep over the top of the weed mat we had put in place. Nik and I made an early start and spent 5 hours working on the Harvey’s wetland area. We were joined by Richard Taylor who helped Nik to empty out one of the weed bags which was full of great compost. With Richard’s help we filled about 6 garden rubbish bags and plan to purchase more large weed bags which can remain in situ. Richard Taylor spotted a large centrepede under one of the weed bags which was cradling some eggs. By the time I had my camera ready it had let go of the eggs and retreated into a hole.
Sunday 2 November
Spent 4 hours spraying pampas and clearing Japanese honeysuckle covering trees at the bottom of Mt Pleasant Drive.
Richard Taylor, Jo and Sue Evans spent two hours weeding around the plants on the Harvey’s property.
The Tradescantia has become established again and we plan to meet during Labour Weekend to carry out further weeding in this area.
Chris and I spent Sunday morning, 12/10/14, checking the stoat traps and refilling the bait stations.
We were amazed to find all the bait had been taken in 3 weeks and were delighted to add two more stoats to our tally – a total of 4 this year on our property.
It is hard to know whether this is a credit to our stoat-catching skills or an indication of how many stoats exist in the valley. However, we have increased our efforts in recent months and feel sure the bird chorus is louder.
The afternoon was spent weeding; in particular removing a large amount of asparagus fern which was becoming established along one section of the BNZ Track. Cotoneaster was also targeted at the bottom of Mt Pleasant Drive, along with other weeds including pampas and wilding pines.
Nik and I met with Dave Galloway and Rebecca Kemp0 from Auckland Council who provided us with advice regarding weed and pest control and provided us with a variety of traps, including the temporary loan of a myna trap. The preferred bait is apparently popcorn. We had no success with our first attempt at trapping mynas but hope to be more successful with future trapping efforts.
In the afternoon we eco-sourced sedges and planted them along the stream edges along with some split flaxes.
We have added one more stoat to our tally (rather hard to identify in this photograph).
The wetland area behind the Brown Cottage had been sprayed in preparation for planting earlier on in the year. Due to limited rain, planting was postponed and then our attentions were focused on other pr0jects. Nik and I set to work clearing the area by hand/spade, splitting sedges and flaxes and eco-sourcing plants from our property.
The main established weeds were Deadly Nightshade and Queen of the Night and follow-up work will be needed. Jasmine is also starting to re-sprout along the concrete driveway.
Nik met with Dave Wilson from DoC and took him on a walk through the valley. Dave was able to provide some helpful information regarding pest plants.
Despite a stormy start to the day, 8 volunteers braved the elements and ventured down the muddy paddocks towards the border of the TFS planting site on Mike and Fiona Francis’ property. The first hour was spent digging and splitting flaxes; not an easy task with such well established plants. Anita spotted a large number of cabbage tree seedlings under one of the apple trees in the orchard and some of them were dug up and transplanted. By 1.00pm we had filled most of the gaps. Mike will be keeping a close eye on the local pukeko population in the hope they won’t pull up any more plants. It was a most enjoyable morning with lots of laughter and very changeable weather – including sunshine and a brief hail storm! Mike’s special hamburgers went down a treat after the morning’s efforts.
Thanks to our volunteers Neil and Cheryl Sutherland, Richard Taylor, Niklas, Anita and to Mike and Fiona for a most enjoyable working bee.
That afternoon, Nik and I planned to plant an area at the bottom of Mt Pleasant Drive but unfortunately our spraying efforts three weeks earlier had been unsuccessful and the area will need to be resprayed. We met with members of the Auckland Council to discuss the best plan of action. 6 large cabbage trees and 8 flaxes were transplanted.