On 28 August, 3 volunteers worked on clearing jasmine which is strangling native plants along Tenetahi Rd. This is a massive job and we are investigating employing contractors to continue with this particular project. We also hope to work in conjunction with Auckland Council as most of the affected area is on Council land.
3 volunteers have been making weekly (Saturday or Sunday) visits to Leigh since January, attacking weeds in the valley and surrounding bush remnants. The main target plants have been tradescantia, African Club Moss, climbing asparagus and banana passionfruit vine.
On Saturday 17 September, we had a successful weeding session at the top of the valley. A team of 7 volunteers cleared climbing asparagus which was waist deep in places. We also removed large clumps of stinking iris and huge passionfruit vines – some 4 metres tall. Large areas of Lantana and Jasmine were sprayed. Clearly the wet winter has provided ideal growing conditions for these weeds. We will need to revisit these areas and spot spay the climbing asparagus.
Phase one of our pulse baiting programme has been completed and we will commence phase 2 in early November.
We are already seeing the positive effects of our pest control baiting and trapping programme.
Had a very interesting and entertaining afternoon, on Sunday 26 June, with Kerryn and the stoat detection trainee, Zip. It was hilarious watching him follow his nose and indicate several areas where stoats might be located.
There was great excitement when Zip located the scat (stoat poo) planted by Kerryn at the top of the valley the day before. He also followed the scent to the stoats in traps along Cape Rodney Road as he had done previously.
The scat was obtained from stoats in captivity at Landcare Research and Kerryn said the next challenge is to get Zip to locate wild stoat scat, as the scent will be different.
Kerryn demonstrated how easy it is to open the DoC200’s using the safety straps. We will aim to have these attached to all the DoC200’s.
We are continuing to make good progress following Chris Wadsworth’s environmentally friendly weeding programme. Chris and Keith have travelled to Leigh every weekend over the past 16 weeks. Approximately 250 hours of volunteer labour has been carried out during this period and 30 x 3 cubic metre weed bags have been filled.
Nik, Kerryn and Darren have been working on the track so we can commence our halo of control. This work was started several years ago but postponed due to Covid.
Here are some of Chris’s observations at our working bee on Saturday 23 April when we worked from the top of the valley downwards.
- Lovely spot but loads of crasula, some tradescantia and moth vine. Also, some household rubbish!
- Spider orchids abundant on a tree brought down by a slip
- Discovered a White Maire (Nestegis Lanceolata).
- Lunch was delicious. Sandwiches with avocado, tomato, ham, egg followed by date scones ! (best ever?)
- Saw fresh water crayfish (koura) while clearing tradescantia at the very top of the creek. This area looked better afterwards.
I discovered 75 black sacks of garden waste (probably bagged tradescantia). They had clearly been there a long time as the bags had partly disintegrated.
Brought back several unidentified weeds. Identified ladder fern, AKA Boston Fern (Japanese variety with bulbs which aren’t present in the native variety.)
During the Easter break I saw a Miro Miro (Tomtit) while weeding and it returned the following day. John Harvey, managed to capture the attached photos on his cellphone a week later.
While this sighting and the bellbird sighting were only of individual birds, residents near the valley have heard bellbirds and seen Miro Miro previously. Kakariki have also been observed. Piwakakwaka numbers have noticeably increased and, rather than just seeing 3 or 4, we are being followed by up to 10.
Invertebrate numbers also appear to be increasing and we are seeing many more native seedlings popping up all over the valley.
We are very excited to advise that a juvenile Korimako (Bellbird) was spotted in the valley by Chris Wadsworth during our last working bee on Sunday, 6 March. The fact it was a juvenile suggests they might be breeding in the area. The efforts of our volunteer trappers are clearly paying off as indicated by a marked increase in native birdlife and we are thrilled to bits with this recent discovery. The cheeky, bossy juvenile was captured on the attached video. If you zoom in, you will be able to see its fluffy feathers. Thanks to Errol Albon, Nik Erikson and Jo Evans for their ongoing pest control support.
Thanks to John Harvey for the video
We have held 5 working bees during February, amounting to approximately 190 volunteer hours. The primary focus has been clearing Tradescantia from the borders of the stream and climbing asparagus at the top of the valley. Chris Wadsworth and Keith Paine have contributed approximately 60 more hours to the project on top of the many hours they have already volunteered. Chris, who has a wealth of experience in bush restoration has summarised some of his observations:-
- Cleared tradescantia areas showing excellent signs of revegetation with Fuchsia exorticata among many other species
- Evidence that pratia angulata is self-propagating (vegetative)
- Found and photographed centella uniflora; a good compliment for stream bank plant communities. Grows well with Oplismenus Hirtellus
- Observed bright white fungus fruiting up to a metre high on the trunk of a dead Mamaku (Cyathea medularis). This seems a rare event.
- Found a male juvenile tree weta on my neck
- Observed fruiting Dianella Nigra on the coastal walkway
- Karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus) seedlings transplant well if the tap root doesn’t break.
- ‘Bastard Grass’ (Hook sedge, Carex uncinata) seeds attach readily to hair limbs and digits
- Observed Parataniwha (Elatostema rugosum) seedling on cleared stream bank
- Observed Toatoa (Haloragis erecta) at several sites. Along with many other species, Toatpoa will help suppress Tradescantia.
- Removed Evergreen Buckthorn (Rhamnus Alaternus) from stream bank.
- The entrance to the stream has an exotic grass growing around where the Saltmarsh Ribbonwood (Plagianthus divaricatus) is planted
- Great year for cicadas (approximately 40 native species spend 17 years underground)
While we have not been able to hold any working bees for over 6 months due to lockdown and the wet weather, Jo Evans, Errol Albon and Nik Erikson have continued to carry out predator control in and around the valley. Individual landowners have also been targeting pest animals and pest plants. We planned to hold a working bee before the end of the year focussing on climbing asparagus at the top of the valley however this did not take place and will be a priority in 2022. Over Christmas a few other pest plants were discovered including Moreton Bay Fig, Japanese Spindle Tree and Snap dragon vine and a lot of ginger and large tobacco plants near the harbour.
We employed two students to carry out 20 hours of pest plant control along the Leigh Harbour foreshore and at the bottom of Tenetahi Rd. More work is required in this area.
The application to Auckland Council to remove the larger wilding pines from the Leigh Scenic Reserve (DoC) land has been a lengthy process and we are currently investigating the various reports required with the hope of progressing with this application and submitting it early this year.
Thanks to generous donations by members of the Leigh Harbour Valley Society, we were able to engage the services of a team of abseiler/contractors to remove wilding pines from the Leigh Scenic Reserve coastal walkway. This area is Department of Conservation land and they provided us with consent to remove the wilding pines that were less than 3M tall.
Unfortunately our joint application with the Leigh Community Club for funding to remove the larger wilding pines was unsuccessful. These pines pose a health and safety issue, particularly those on the unstable cliff edges. The larger trees will also continue to disperse seeds onto the coastal walkway, creating an ongoing battle. The two main species present are Pinus Pinaster and Pinus Radiata.
We will continue to investigate funding avenues to get rid of these pines.
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.