Juvenile Korimako (Bellbird) spotted in 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

Tradescantia and Climbing Asparagus Control

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)

Update: January 2022

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.

Wilding pines removal

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.

Kathryn Erikson

Volunteers working in the valley – July 2021

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.

A jungle of Garden Escapees

Our second community working bee for the year was held on 2 May. 7
volunteers spent three hours clearing weeds along the bottom of
Tenetahi Rd. This area was cleared by contractors and a team of
volunteers in 2013 but no major follow-up weeding has taken place
since then.

Jasmine, ivy, blue morning glory, moth plant and passionfruit vine are
just some of the weeds strangling this area of native bush. Clearing
these weeds is a massive undertaking.

The Society has been employing Stefan Spreitzenbarth to work on the
foreshore and he has been doing a fabulous job. Jo Evans and Sue
Gibbings have spent many volunteer hours in this area of bush,
including carrying out regular trapping.

Thanks to our volunteers including Liz Jones, Neil Sutherland, Jo
Evans, Richard Taylor, Niklas Erikson and Chris Erikson. A big thank
you also to Jo Evans taking away a load of weeds in his ute.

Panakenake Transplantation

Thanks to Chris Wadsworth and Keith Paine, secondary school
mathematics teachers with a passion for New Zealand’s native flora and
fauna, further headway has been made in the valley. Together they
spent 20 volunteer hours clearing and bagging Tradescantia and other
weeds. They also spent another 1 1/2 hours checking and clearing the
traps, adding 10 rats and 2 mice to our total on the Mt Pleasant side
of the valley.

Four years ago John and Nola Harvey offered to propagate some
Panakenake and this plant completely took over their vegetable garden.
We met on 24 April to replant it by the stream edges. John sliced the
plant into pieces, including a decent amount of soil. It was then
rolled, transferred into bags and driven to the bottom of Mt Pleasant
Drive where it was transported to the valley in shopping bags and
backpacks – rather back breaking work! It is hoped this plant will
become established in the cleared areas of the stream.

Community Working Bee

On Sunday, 28 March, our first community working bee for 2021 was spent clearing weeds at the bottom of Tenetahi Rd and along the foreshore, including kikuyu which has been smothering our earlier planting efforts.  7 volunteers attended.  A week earlier, we employed Stefan Spreitzenbarth, an Auckland University PhD marine biology student who cleared blue morning glory, convolvulus and other weeds, making our job a bit easier.  A big thanks to Pete Watkinson for mowing the kikuyu closer to the edge of the planting.  (Hopefully the Council contractors will follow suit).  Thanks also to Jo Evans who removed some of the larger cuttings and elephant ear rhizomes in his ute.

Uninvited visitors…

Two uninvited visitors have been found in the valley by Richard Aickin and his wife Jan.
An Australian Water Dragon was seen but not caught a few weeks ago and has not been seen since.
Recently they came across a turtle (refer photograph below). Richard said ‘Not sure what we’ll find next, will need to call in reinforcements if it’s a crocodile!’. Both the Australian water dragons and turtles are becoming a real problem in the Auckland area and we have been advised by a representative from MPI that it will soon be illegal to keep the water dragons as pets. It is hard to know if these were abandoned pets or escapees.

Pest Control 2021

We are continuing to have success catching pest animals which confirms our efforts need to be ongoing, even when the traps are empty. When we checked the traps on our property and up Mt Pleasant Drive on 7 February, the tally was 1 weasel, 1 stoat, 6 rats and 2 mice. This excludes the self-setting traps which are positioned in the less accessible areas. A week later we met with Errol Albon who has kindly offered to assist us with checking our traps and, within the week, 6 more rats, 1 mouse and a freshly caught weasel, snared by a snap trap, were added to the total. We don’t recall catching a weasel in a snap trap before and the lure was peanut butter and Oreo cookies, rather than rabbit meat, so this victim must have had a sweet tooth! There doesn’t appear to be much possum activity. Nik will check the self-setting traps within the next few weeks and reposition them

We have been communicating with the Leigh Coastal Care group regarding a more co-ordinated approach to clearing weeds in the surrounding area. A priority is the wilding pines along the coastal walkway, some of which are getting quite large, and climbing asparagus which is getting established in the valley.