Saturday, August 3, 2019

Planting for native pigeon – Kereru

Photo taken in Hamilton by Kemble Pudney 

This long-term programme is underway. It is based around the Miro tree because of its berries being so palatable to the Kereru.  First we identified existing Miro in the gully and GPS plotted them onto a map. Now we are following up by selectively planting Miro so that we fill in the gaps. This is being done over the entire thirty hectares of Mangaiti Gully. With the sum of what is already in the ground and what plants we have to go in will total more than forty.

In addition, around each Miro we are planting Tawa, Pigeon Wood and Nikau. The theory is that we will develop forty attractive feeding stations for Kereru within Mangaiti Gully. We do stress that this is a long-term project in that these trees take a considerable number of years to mature. 

Long tail bats in Mangaiti Gully

Tim Newton from Green Footprint Tree Care
 installing a bat home

The bat home programme is well under way with twelve homes made and four installed to date. We are waiting for funding (an application has been made) to complete the installation of the other eight. The cost is in the purchase of the aluminium sheeting that goes around the trunk of the tree above and below the bat home to prevent the bats being predated on by rats and the hiring of an arborist. It requires serious tree climbing!  
If you wish to view a bat home that’s been installed go to the end of Odering Place (a new street off Sexton Road). It can be seen from the roadside up in a pine tree.
The good news is that the 2018 city-wide bat census recorded one bat in Mangaiti Gully and in the 2019 census two were recorded. The twelve homes are being installed along 1.6km of gully from Thomas road in the north down to Wairere Drive in the south. This gives a good spread and plenty of options for bats to occupy. 
This You Tube clip is a great bit of footage of bats exiting a bat home in Sanford Park, Melville, Hamilton:  https://youtu.be/ScIITzi1cDY

More about eels

Long finned eel in Mangaiti Stream need protection
The Long Finned eel is really heading towards extinction. It is just a pity that bureaucracy could not move a little faster to prevent this from happening.
To quote a letter to the editor “The Sunday Star Times July 14, 2019”
What a fascinating and eye opening article by Charlie Mitchell on the sad state of the New Zealand long finned eel (Focus July 7). Why has the moratorium on commercially fishing these as recommended by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright in 2013 not happened? And, as highlighted in the piece, why does killing a kereru merit a $100,000 fine or a year in prison, yet the much more endangered eel is allowed to be minced in dam turbines or caught and exported live?
It’s madness.
Fiona McAllister, Mt Maunganui

Here is the link to Charlie Mitchell’s article: www.stuff.co.nz/environment/113450351/managed-to-extinction-are-we-at-risk-of-losing-our-creature-of-mystery It is a really good read.

Giant Kokopu caught out in flood waters

A giant kokopu picked up off the ground dead,
 metres from the stream edge

Hamilton gullies over the years have been utilised as part of the storm water infrastructure for the city.  The result is that, during a rain event the water rises quickly flooding the gully flats adjacent to the stream but equally, when rain ceases the water level drops rapidly. This giant kokopu was caught out by the receding water a couple of metres from the stream bank after such a recent weather event. 


The purchase of a digital game camera

A very military looking camera 


Trying to get a handle on what the rat activity is at any one time of the season has been a guessing game up to now. So that we can better manage our rat eradication programme, we have purchased a motion detect camera. This records night and day, only switches on when motion is detected and can be set to video or time lapsed photos. It will be moved around to different bait stations from time to time to try and accumulate an overall picture of what is happening. The things we are looking for are; how frequently a rat visits a station, the number of rats (is it one or many?), the size (are they young or older?), the mouse activity (can mice clear out three baits in a two-week period?). The camera will help us to build a better picture over time of what is actually happening in the field. 

Monarch being eaten by Praying Mantis

South African praying mantis eating a monarch butterfly

Although the monarch butterfly is not an endemic species in New Zealand they do give a lot of pleasure to many of us and it is an excellent way of introducing children to nature. We hear a lot about the paper wasp praying on the eggs and caterpillars but did you know that the South African praying mantis is also a major threat.  It was observed this last season feeding on the caterpillars and even sitting on the swan plant flowers and catching the butterflies when they landed to feed on the nectar. So if you are growing swan plants this coming summer, search and destroy any praying mantis you see. If you are in Hamilton it is a good bet it will be of the South African species. The New Zealand native praying mantis is surviving in some areas of New Zealand so it may pay to know the difference (google it).

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Tui well established in Mangaiti Gully

Parent feeding a young Tui. Mangaiti Gully.
 Photo by Owen Cole

We have spent a lot of time down in the gully over the last eight years. Over this time we get a very good feeling on what the fauna is up to. There has always been some winter sighting of Tui but gradually an odd one was seen during the spring / summer months. Then, in the spring of 2017, a sighting of a juvenile Tui up the Gordonton Road end was reported and one was thought to have been seen around our depot off Coleraine Drive.
The winter of 2018 saw a spike in Tui numbers. In August twelve were seen gathering among the bare branches of a black locust tree late one afternoon.  A couple of weeks later at least 18 (it was hard to count exactly) were seen feeding in the Taiwanese cherry trees in Sovereign Isles. As spring approached and Tui paired up and created territories, many remained in the gully. Sightings were now common.
In December 2018 juvenile Tui was either seen and / or heard in three locations: in the gully just off Wairere Drive; at the stream junction where the stream leads up to Gordonton Road and up the Sexton Road end. For every one seen, we are confident that there are many others. Tui are well and truly established as a thriving part of the Mangaiti Gully fauna.
We believe this is the result of the Halo programme that was responsible for getting Tui back into Hamilton.  Then in Mangaiti Gully this was followed by a rat eradication programme and possum control which has enabled the Tui that came to successfully breed.
This has taken a number of years to get to where we are now and has  involved the help and support of a lot of volunteers, for which the Mangaiti Gully Restoration Trust are truly grateful.  This has enabled our trust to work successfully towards achieving our vision which is, “to restore the native flora of Mangaiti gully back to, as near as is practical, pre European status and to manage the gully in such a way that native fauna (birds, fish, bats, reptiles & insects) will re-establish, either naturally or by introduction and for this to be sustainable.”