Keith Paine and Chris Wadsworth spent 22 volunteer hours working in the valley on Monday 19 July and Tuesday 20 July. As can be seen from the before and after photographs, they cleared a number of weeds streamside. The first day was spent at the top of the catchment area on the Aiken’s property. The next day they carried out follow-up weeding on the Harvey’s property.
On Sunday 25 July, Jan Sinclair and a group of LHVS volunteers helped to split sedges and plant them in the cleared areas. Errol Albon cleared a number of fallen trees using his chainsaw. Unfortunately there was an absolute downpour the following night (over 60mm). The stream was raging and the harbour was chocolate brown. One of our traps was washed a considerable distance downstream and the force of the water damaged it beyond repair. At this stage we have not viewed the storm damage but hope not too many plants were lost.
Our second community working bee for the year was held on 2 May. 7 volunteers spent three hours clearing weeds along the bottom of Tenetahi Rd. This area was cleared by contractors and a team of volunteers in 2013 but no major follow-up weeding has taken place since then.
Jasmine, ivy, blue morning glory, moth plant and passionfruit vine are just some of the weeds strangling this area of native bush. Clearing these weeds is a massive undertaking.
The Society has been employing Stefan Spreitzenbarth to work on the foreshore and he has been doing a fabulous job. Jo Evans and Sue Gibbings have spent many volunteer hours in this area of bush, including carrying out regular trapping.
Thanks to our volunteers including Liz Jones, Neil Sutherland, Jo Evans, Richard Taylor, Niklas Erikson and Chris Erikson. A big thank you also to Jo Evans taking away a load of weeds in his ute.
Thanks to Chris Wadsworth and Keith Paine, secondary school mathematics teachers with a passion for New Zealand’s native flora and fauna, further headway has been made in the valley. Together they spent 20 volunteer hours clearing and bagging Tradescantia and other weeds. They also spent another 1 1/2 hours checking and clearing the traps, adding 10 rats and 2 mice to our total on the Mt Pleasant side of the valley.
Four years ago John and Nola Harvey offered to propagate some Panakenake and this plant completely took over their vegetable garden. We met on 24 April to replant it by the stream edges. John sliced the plant into pieces, including a decent amount of soil. It was then rolled, transferred into bags and driven to the bottom of Mt Pleasant Drive where it was transported to the valley in shopping bags and backpacks – rather back breaking work! It is hoped this plant will become established in the cleared areas of the stream.
On Sunday, 28 March, our first community working bee for 2021 was spent clearing weeds at the bottom of Tenetahi Rd and along the foreshore, including kikuyu which has been smothering our earlier planting efforts. 7 volunteers attended. A week earlier, we employed Stefan Spreitzenbarth, an Auckland University PhD marine biology student who cleared blue morning glory, convolvulus and other weeds, making our job a bit easier. A big thanks to Pete Watkinson for mowing the kikuyu closer to the edge of the planting. (Hopefully the Council contractors will follow suit). Thanks also to Jo Evans who removed some of the larger cuttings and elephant ear rhizomes in his ute.
Two uninvited visitors have been found in the valley by Richard Aickin and his wife Jan. An Australian Water Dragon was seen but not caught a few weeks ago and has not been seen since. Recently they came across a turtle (refer photograph below). Richard said ‘Not sure what we’ll find next, will need to call in reinforcements if it’s a crocodile!’. Both the Australian water dragons and turtles are becoming a real problem in the Auckland area and we have been advised by a representative from MPI that it will soon be illegal to keep the water dragons as pets. It is hard to know if these were abandoned pets or escapees.
We are continuing to have success catching pest animals which confirms our efforts need to be ongoing, even when the traps are empty. When we checked the traps on our property and up Mt Pleasant Drive on 7 February, the tally was 1 weasel, 1 stoat, 6 rats and 2 mice. This excludes the self-setting traps which are positioned in the less accessible areas. A week later we met with Errol Albon who has kindly offered to assist us with checking our traps and, within the week, 6 more rats, 1 mouse and a freshly caught weasel, snared by a snap trap, were added to the total. We don’t recall catching a weasel in a snap trap before and the lure was peanut butter and Oreo cookies, rather than rabbit meat, so this victim must have had a sweet tooth! There doesn’t appear to be much possum activity. Nik will check the self-setting traps within the next few weeks and reposition them
We have been communicating with the Leigh Coastal Care group regarding a more co-ordinated approach to clearing weeds in the surrounding area. A priority is the wilding pines along the coastal walkway, some of which are getting quite large, and climbing asparagus which is getting established in the valley.
Our pest plant control efforts have got off to a good start for 2021. We have been busy clearing various invasive weeds including tradescantia, African Clubmoss, climbing asparagus and mothplant.
The pratia angulata (panakenake) planted in 2017 (lovingly propagated by John Harvey) which was washed downstream after a heavy rainfall, is showing up in various parts of the valley and appears to be thriving.
There has been a noticeable increase in native bird life. We will continue to keep up the momentum with our trapping efforts.
We have set up a Trigene station at the beginning of the valley walkway. Please ensure you spray and brush your boots before entering or leaving the valley.
Our last working bee for 2020 was held on Monday 14 December. 5 members of Auckland Council’s Central/South Auckland biosecurity – environmental services unit held an end of year team building exercise and spent 20 hours carrying out pest and weed control in the valley.
On Saturday, 14th of November 2020, eight volunteers spent a glorious spring morning clearing weeds on the Harvey’s Wetland area. We have been very keen to get stuck into this area since March, but had to cancel due to Covid-19 lockdown. We made huge progress, as can be seen from the following before-and-after photos. There was great excitement when a large frog was discovered in the undergrowth. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop for a photo. A big welcome to new members; Richard Aickin and his wife Jan. They proved to be very hard-working volunteers and it is great to have them on board. Many thanks to Norma Harvey who served a delicious lunch.
The Pest Free Leigh Launch held on Saturday, 17 October was a huge success and it was great to hear about their vision for the area. The hall was full of local Leigh and Mathesons Bay residents and holiday homeowners, all eager to do their part. Cam Rathe provided an excellent presentation on pest control and it was exciting to hear plans are underway to release Kiwi onto Mt Tamahanga withinin the next 12-18 months.
Leigh residents will be trapping rats with free traps provided by Pest Free Leigh and, in time, the plan is to progress to the outlying rural areas. The efforts of the various volunteer community groups should help to make the Pest Free Leigh dream a reality.
A big thank you to Jo Evans who put together a wonderful display of the achievements of the LHVS over the past 12 years.
On Saturday, 17 October, Nik and Matt Deeling spent 4 hours positioning A24 Good Nature traps in the kauri block. The next plan is to intensify trapping on our well-established tracks and to add more traps to the kauri block. To date (from what we can gather from rotting carcasses) we have caught 24 possums and 42 rats with the self-setting traps.