While the wet weather might have hampered our pest plant control efforts, our trapping and baiting programme is in full swing. In the past year we have caught over 300 pest animals. Our pulse baiting programme is well underway and our dream of creating a pest-free peninsula is looking more achievable.
We are hopeful for some more fine weather so we can get stuck into climbing asparagus control along with managing other nasty weeds which have proliferated in the wet weather. A contractor is being employed to carry out some of this work.
The Leigh Harbour Valley Society joined forces with members of the Leigh Community on Sunday, 18 June to plant over 600 plants provided by Auckland Council. A big thanks to Rose Crooks and Auckland Council for organising this event and to Kate McConnell and James Ross for selecting the plants and organising the planting plan. Thanks also to the enthusiastic volunteers (many of them members of Kate’s swimming group).
We also continued our weeding efforts at the bottom of Tenetahi Rd.
There is much more work to be done. The plants will need to be maintained to prevent kikuyu from strangling them and weeds in the surrounding area will have to be controlled; an ongoing battle!
Many thanks to Jo Evans and Sue Gibbings who represented the Leigh Harbour Valley Society at the Forest Bridge Trust Volunteer Open Day on Saturday, 24 June. Jo put together a fabulous poster promoting the efforts of the LHVS. He said it was well worthwhile being there and he received some very positive feedback but mainly from other stall holders because the weather was so lousy they didn’t get a large number of general public visitors. However, he had some interesting chats with groups he didn’t know were working in the area. It is always good to network.
While the wet weather has not exactly been conducive to outdoor activities, we have not let it thwart our restoration efforts. There has been a real focus on pest animal activity and the tally since we started recording our catches more accurately in August 2022 is as follows:-
186 rats 11 possums 9 weasels 14 hedgehogs Many mice
Along with trapping, we have been carrying out baiting and are now entering phase 4 of our pulse baiting programme.
A big thank you to Chris Wadsworth who scaled the cliff above Leigh Harbour and collected 432 moth plant pods over two visits and removed many more vines. It was amazing how many passers-by stopped to ask if they were edible. While they do look a lot like choko, efforts were made to educate them about this nasty weed which is aptly named ‘ugly vine’.
On Sunday 4 June we had the pleasure of meeting Richard Henty, a science teacher and founder of STAMP (Society Totally Against Moth Plant). Many thanks to Kate McConnell for organizing this introduction. Richard spent 3 hours collecting another 450 – 500 pods (we gave up counting) and killing many more vines. This environmental warrior established STAMP after he first encountered moth plant on Motuihe Island 16 years ago. Along with help from his supporters, 18,000 moth plant locations are monitored around Auckland.
This nasty creeper is a real threat to our precious bush remnants and has taken off in some areas; probably helped by the wet weather. It tends to creep in from the edges of the bush blocks so is not always visible on formed tracks. Once again, we have been focusing on hand control. While this method is much slower, it does reduce the risk of collateral damage.
Three volunteers spent several hours on the 3rd of April and 10th of April clearing an infestation of moth plant bordering the bush on Tenetahi Rd. The vines were massive and had obviously been there for a while but had somehow been missed by our team of volunteers. There are large patches of moth plant around Leigh and we are keen to control the various seed sources.
Our first official working bee for 2023 was held on 2 April when 8 enthusiastic volunteers worked for two hours on clearing weeds along the coastal end of Tenetahi Rd. While the plan was to continue attacking Jasmine which is strangling the bush, most of the time was spent on clearing a large area of blue morning glory. A contractor has sprayed the area twice and we plan to hold several follow-up working bees within the next few months.
We are midway through phase 3 of the pulse baiting programme. There has been a recent spike in rat numbers, apparently due to the wet summer which delayed the breeding season. Our trapping efforts were somewhat thwarted by the rain and slippery conditions, along with the slips caused by Cyclone Gabrielle which blocked a number of the tracks. All rather soul destroying but, on a positive note, one of the large slips above the Harbour took down a massive infestation of moth plant and other weeds which we had been unable to access.
Thanks to our volunteers Neil and Cheryl Sutherland, Kate McConnell, Martin Turner, Jan Sinclair and Margaret and James Young.
Our last working bee for 2022 was held on Ashleigh Lee’s property at the bottom of Tenetahi Rd. 6 volunteers spent 3 hours clearing and bagging weeds stream-side. We identified two new weeds which aren’t so evident in other areas we have been restoring, including Hanging Sedge (Carex Pendula) and Indian Shot (Canna Indica). There is much more work to be done in this area and this will be one of the main projects for 2023.
On Saturday, 12 November, Jan Sinclair was joined by friends, family and members of the LHVS to target climbing asparagus. A big dent was made in this problem weed on the border of the kauri forest. The next day Chris and Keith spent another 3 hours targeting this weed. We have a battle ahead but we are gradually getting there.