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.
Many thanks to Richard Taylor and Jo Evans who spent approximately 10 hours on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September, positioning 7 leaning posts, re-stapling loose battens and adding 8 permanent strainers to the fenced catchment area on Julie Turner’s property. Richard spent another few hours back-filling the holes. The Leigh Harbour Valley Society funded the cost of materials.
We plan to organise a weeding day in this area before the end of the year.
Once again, we would like to acknowledge and thank Trees for Survival and Ponsonby Primary School who provided the trees for this project.
Our first official working bee for the year was held on Sunday, 2 August after having to postpone previous planned events due to Covid-19. It is over 9 years since weeds were cleared and replanting was carried out on council land in front of and behind the brown cottage and along the paper road. 13 volunteers spent 3 hours clearing jasmine, blue morning glory, ivy, tradescantia, moth plant and other weeds.
A big thank you to Ashleigh Lee for providing a delicious lunch and to Nik and Matt for assisting with clearing weeds and spraying. Everyone agreed it was great getting back into restoration mode.
Brush tail possums, Norwegian rats, ship rats and kiore beware!, the new AT220 traps have been installed in the valley. On Saturday 11 July, Nik and his colleague, Matt spent about 8 hours positioning the traps and attaching ramps to encourage the rodents to walk directly into them. One of the traps was checked the next day and in the space of one night had successfully caught a possum.
Funding for these traps was provided by DoC’s Community Fund.
With our efforts and pest control also being carried out by the organisers of the Little Blue Penguin/Korora project, Jenny and Tony Enderby and others who have been trapping consistently along the Leigh Coastal walkway, we are starting notice an influx of fantails (piwakawaka); a very encouraging sign.
With support from a successful DoC funding application, we plan to establish a trap line around the boundary of the Leigh Harbour Valley over the coming months. Matthew Deeley an experienced pest plant and animal control field operator, and Nik volunteered their time on Saturday 4 February and Sunday 5 February; establishing a track on the eastern boundary of the valley. It was extremely hot work but they managed to get through over 1/4 of the halo. The formation of this track is a continuation of work carried out several years ago on the other side of the valley but not completed.
Nik has caught 5 possums over a two week period. Chris is in the process of erecting a Kauri Die back cleaning station at the main entrance of the valley and has constructed 15 more rat boxes to add to our arsenal of traps.
My rat truffles are being eaten by something (or someone!) but I’ve only managed to catch one very large rat in the past two weeks. The truffles have disappeared completely from some of the traps without the traps going off so I can only assume they were eaten by mice or insects. In future, I’ll prepare the recommended mixture of rolled oats, peanut butter and cinnamon and ensure that it is extra sticky so the truffles cannot be rolled away!
We are looking forward to working closely with the Predator Free Leigh Community group in the months ahead.
Matt Deeley helping to establish the new track
Nik Erikson – hot work!
Marking the track
Before (2012) and after (2020) photographs of the catchment area at the top of Mt Pleasant Drive are a big source of encouragement.
It is easy to feel disillusioned when faced with the spring growth of an overwhelming number of weeds, and Tradescantia has proved to be a huge challenge for our project volunteers. Panakenake (pratia angulata) was recommended to replace this nasty weed and it was very upsetting when the 100 or so plants propagated by John Harvey, and planted in 2016, were washed downstream after a heavy rainful. However, at a weeding day held on 23 November 2019, we were given a real glimmer of hope to see that a number of these plants have survived. The panakenake photographed was a delight to behold, and it looked very much at home. We are hopeful that, over time, this plant will become more established in the valley and help to suppress the tradescantia.
Neil and Cheryl Sutherland and Richard Taylor worked hard at clearing tradescantia from the stream edges and from amongst the parataniwha (Elatostema rugosum). This was a laborious task which they took in their stride and we had an enjoyable few hours in the valley.
Another weed that is quite established is montbretia. Due to its underground corms and long creeping rhizomes, it will be an ongoing challenge to control but one we are determined to win!
The next day was spent cutting and pasting privet and deadly nightshade along Mt Pleasant Drive then, encouraged by a recent meeting with Jenny Enderby, I went on my first solo trap clearing mission. Armed with a mask, gloves and tongs, I checked and rebaited the traps. It didn’t take too long to learn that it is important to apply the bait to the snap traps before setting them so thank goodness I was wearing gloves! I have to admit it was a relief to discover that all the traps were empty but I’m sure this job will get easier over time and I’ll be able to deal with a dead rat or stoat without screaming at top note. Another impromptu weeding day was held on Sunday, 1 December when I met with Richard Taylor and we spent just over an hour and a half clearing tradescantia from the stream bed. There is still much work to do and we look forward to making further progress in the valley in 2020.