On Friday, 17 July Jo Evans and Susan Gibbings assisted Cam Rathe setting up the new stoat line. With the 5 traps that Cam had brought they had 9 to set up in the valley. They placed the first on the Erikson’s main track down to the wetland, on a corner beside the large old pine tree. The rest (8) were spaced at roughly 100-150 pace intervals up the valley near the stream.
#1 Start of the Valley Track on the edge of Erikson’s wetland
#2 Watkinson’s stream crossing by rope swing
#3 Old pump stand
#4 Harvey’s stream crossing
#5 Near side waterfall
#6 Across stream (W side)
#7 Above rapids (E side of stream)
#8 Just before bottom of Gundy’s track (E side of stream)
All traps were set with fresh rabbit meat (from Cam’s first shooting session).
The traps set up on the baitline along the BNZ track were checked and contained the following:
No.4 tripped but no catch
Since then, another two stoats have been caught and 2 large rats.
We headed off at 9.00am on Sunday, 12 July to plant some of the plants, funded by Auckland Council’s Environmental Initiatives fund. A scheduled planting day was postponed due to lack of numbers, however, with the help of family members (James and Margaret Young, our daughter Anita and her friend Charlotte Nankerville), we spent 3 hours transporting the sedges down to the valley, clearing tradescantia, kikuya and African Club Moss and planting 120 plants. It was a frosty morning but we soon warmed up and before long had removed our jackets and woollen hats.
Delivering plants to the valley
Stream bank prior to weeding and planting
Stream bank after planting of sedges
In the afternoon, Chris and I worked on clearing one of the tracks along the coastal walkway in order that the pest line can be established by Cam Rathe.
All the plants obtained via the Environmental Education Fund are now in thanks to a small but enthusiastic team of volunteers. Michelle Gordon, the Canadian Biodiversity exchange student travelled up to Leigh with me for the day on Sunday, 28 June. We commenced planting at 9.30am and after an hour of digging very hard and dry soil were starting to feel rather disillusioned as we had only planted about 20 plants. We were soon joined by Rick Carlyon and his son-in-law Lachie who dug the holes with a pick while we planted. It was a great system and by 1.30pm we had completed the job.
Richard Taylor, Sue Gibbings, John Harvey and Emily Harvey kindly gave up their Sunday morning on 14 June to split the flaxes transferred from the Carlyon’s property and plant them on Julie Turner’s wetland area. This proved to be a time consuming task due to the length of the roots and the height of the kikuyu.
After spending 1.5 hours working on this task, Sue Gibbings joined me on the Carlyons where we spent another hour planting the area cleared at the previous working bee.
Lower bank prior to spraying 8/2/15
Lower bank after planting 14/6/15
Upper bank prior to planting 8/2/15
Upper bank after planting 14/6/15
The follow-up Environmental Education Fund planting days were held on 30 and 31 May. Michelle Gordon, a Canadian biodiversity exchange student studying for a semester at Unitec, volunteered to assist for the weekend and proved to be our most enthusiastic and hard working volunteer to date. She was up at 6.30am and keen to commence work.
The first 2.5 hours were spent preparing the Carlyon’s property for planting. Unfortunately we were unable to kill the periwinkle despite four previous attempts with a variety of sprays, so we cleared some areas by hand. Later in the morning we cleared weeds on the wetland area behind the Brown cottage with Linda and Alan Lee, as well as transplanting several cabbage trees and splitting/transplanting sedges. Two other Unitec biodiversity student volunteers who were going to join us were unable to make it. Michelle soon rallied around and on Saturday night we were joined by four of her flatmates, also Unitec students studying architecture, graphic students and IT; Vaishai from Dehli, Monik from Mumbai, Emily from the USA and Vaidik from Rajisthan. We woke to heavy rainfall on Sunday morning. However, this did not deter our enthusiastic volunteers who got to work clearing, splitting and planting flaxes. With the help of Richard Taylor, Chris Erikson and Rick Carlyon, several large flaxes were replanted. Only some of the funded native plants were planted and we hope to complete the planting within the next four weeks.
Many thanks to all our volunteers including Jo Evans who transported the plants from Te Hana Nurseries.
Stoat in trap
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.
Chris dealing with dead stoat
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.
Sunday’s weeding and planting day at the top of the valley was a huge success. It was a gorgeous day and thanks to 18 volunteers (including members of the Leigh Coastal Care group) we made considerable progress clearing weeds, eco-sourcing and replanting alongside the stream. Many thanks to Trish and Arthur Gundy for a delicious BBQ lunch. Thanks also to Nola and John Harvey for the bottles of ‘Black Stilt’ Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from their vineyard in North Otago. These excellent wines went down a treat with all the volunteers.
Nik dug up a small fish from the soil (over a metre from the stream). For a moment with thought he had unearthed the threatened Mudfish but it turned out to be a Banded Kokopu, which probably made its way into the soil after being dragged out of the stream with some tradescantia. Nik had initially mistaken it for a slug so it was lucky to survive. Cheryl also located a kauri snail.
The next planting day will be held on Sunday, 21 September on Mike and Fiona Francis’s property, Cape Rodney Rd (previously Mrs Wainwright’s). Unfortunately we have lost a number of plants which failed the ‘Pukeko test’ and a few more were lost due to the drought so we need to fill in the gaps and continue planting further downstream.
Muddy Banded Kokopu just after being dug out of soil
Banded Kokopu after a wash in the stream