Our team of dedicated volunteers continues to make strides in restoring the native bush and bird life. Along with managing phase 1 of our pulse baiting programme, we have been continuing to focus heavily on moth plant control. This weed is a master of disguise but much easier to detect when it is flowering. The aim has been to target the larger vines before the flowers form into pods and disperse their seeds. We have established bait and trap lines in some of the worst affected areas which means we can regularly monitor and control this evil climbing weed, along with some of the other nasty strangling vines. Large groves of tobacco plant and Queensland poplar are also on our radar. Landowners have previously employed contractors to manage this weed infestation in one area and the landowners themselves have also been carrying out regular control.
On Saturday, 17 February we set off at 7.45am, joined by Maria Sinclair, a secondary school Biology teacher from Whangaparoa College who has had lots of weeding experience and is a member of STAMP (Society Totally Against Moth Plant.) Maria, Richard Taylor, and Troy Taylor scaled the steep slopes like mountain goats finding previously missed vines, including an extremely large one which had reached halfway up a large macrocarpa tree. Lots of pods had already formed and, where possible, these were collected. This will be an ongoing battle but one we are all determined to win!
25 volunteer hours of moth plant control have been carried out over the first 2 weeks of January. The aim is to remove the vines before the flowers turn into pods. This weed is a massive problem in the Leigh area and we are working in conjunction with Coastal Care group and STAMP to control as many large infestations as possible. Conservation Auckland – Moth Plant status
We would like to welcome new participants to our trapping and baiting programme including Phillip Jones who has gone on a recruitment drive and spread the word about our restoration efforts. Thanks to Phillip’s input, our bait lines have been extended onto neighbouring properties on Cape Rodney point, with more possible recruits on the horizon.
Our final working bee for 2023 was held on Sunday, 10 December when, along with members of the Leigh community, we distributed mulch around the native plants which were planted in June this year on the foreshore near the bottom of Tenetahi Rd.
Thanks again to Kate McConnell and James Ross for selecting the plants and deciding on the planting layout. There has been an excellent survival rate due to Kate and James’s invaluable input and because we have had such a wet spring.
The area is going to look fabulous in a few years’ time, particularly with Kate’s plans to add further native shrubs.
A few small, impromptu community working bees have been held in recent weeks, during the brief periods of fine weather. On Monday, 9 October James Ross planted over 50 native plants at the bottom of the cliff near the Leigh wharf. Some weeding was also carried out including cutting down a few of the larger bone seed plants.
On Sunday, 22 October, Richard Henty from STAMP revisited the slopes above the harbour and carried out follow-up mothplant control. Richard’s and Chris Wadsworth’s efforts have made a huge difference to this area, and we expect to see less mothplant flowering during the summer months. We plan to employ an abseiler within the next few weeks to get rid of the pest plants from the higher slopes including a huge number of mothplant seedlings.
While carrying out weeding on the Leigh foreshore later that morning, I came across Cayan Streatfield from Cornwall who arrived on a bike carrying a pick fork and said ‘Hi, I’m Cayan and I’m here to help you!’ Little did he know what he was letting himself in for! Cayan is in New Zealand for the next year and plans to work as a WWOOFer around the country. He has proved to be very hard working and reliable and we have already lined up some other jobs for him.
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.