Monday, June 4, 2018

Expanding the rat eradication programme

Due to popular demand we were approached to install bait stations in the Wairere section of the gully. This has been done over this winter. To make management a bit easier, and to allow for the varying floral types, we have divided Mangaiti Gully into three stages (sections). Mangaiti which runs from Sexton road to Gordonton Road. Wairere, a short gully section from the Hukanui Road entrance up to Wairere Drive (see map) and the Hukanui section which is everything in between these two.
We have acquired the services of two volunteers who are interested in servicing the bait stations one day every fortnight in the Mangaiti section and logging the service data in TrapNZ . This will greatly decrease the times between servicing the stations with the aim of suppressing the usual summer popular explosion of rats. 

Our Kauri Trees in the gully

 Kauri are not a species that are generally considered to have historically grown in Hamilton gullies. We therefore do not include kauri on our planting lists. However we do have several that have been planted some time prior to our Trust being involved with restoring the gully. Four of these are located at the top of the gully along Sexton Track. In 2014 when we were clearing the weeds in preparation for planting we discovered these four kauri covered and weighed down by vine. Four years later and look at them now. Four handsome specimens that actually have cones on!
With kauri die back devastating the northern kauri it may be time to rethink the policy of where we plant kauri. It’s been suggested to council that the southern gully slope below Sovereign Isles, that Wildlands have been contracted to clear and plant, be considered for a kauri grove of 40 to 50 trees. This site has several advantages; It will have a good vista from the existing board walk that runs from Hukanui road, it is a well-drained site that suits kauri, it is isolated from foot traffic therefore would have a very low possibility of contracting the disease at some future date (the disease is spread through soil movement) and being on the south side of Sovereign Isles they would not shade the houses at the top of the gully. There was a very positive response from council to this idea with a suggested planting date of 2020.

Willows on the way out

You may recall that we have been running a programme to poison all the willows. This programme was brought forward because of the willow aphid arriving from Australia causing a black sooty mould on all the understorey plants. All the poisoning is now complete. We then applied for and were successful in securing funding from the HCC community funding round to employ an arborist to remove all the willows that were at risk of falling across the tracks. This work has been started and will be continuing for a few more Wednesdays. The track network is being closed to the public on Wednesday mornings while this work is being done.

The willows that will not fall over tracks are being left to fall on their own and naturally rot down.
If there is not enough funding to complete the job this year we will apply for more funding to complete the job next year. 
Our worry now is, with all the sunlight coming in, the spring / summer weeds will be hard to control until the new canopy trees grow enough to shade them out.

A successful breeding year for Yellow Admiral butterflies

 Twenty Yellow Admiral butterflies hatched out of their chrysalis this autumn. A pleasing result for the first year. The butterfly nettle was grown in an urban garden. The netting was to protect them from the paper wasps that continually stalk the caterpillars. 
Our objective is to get the red admirals to breed. The reds are a lot rarer in our district although they have been seen.

Weed and goldfish released into pond

It very much looks as if a person who wanted to get rid of their gold fish emptied their aquarium, weed and all, into the pond in the gully. As a result this very invasive water weed multiplied to cover the pond within six months. It has been washed out the overflow into the stream and is now spreading downstream to the Waikato River. Gold fish themselves are a pest carp in the wild. We appreciate that the person who did this did it through ignorance not knowing what the ramifications are. However it is a good demonstration of the harm that can be done by transferring and releasing both fauna (animals) and flora (plants) into the wild of species that can be invasive.
It would only take one person to release a live rainbow skink (Australian pest skink) that their cat bought in, into our skink enclosure for it to be overrun by this invasive species. The rainbow is in parts of the city and might even be as close as Thomas Road.

What twenty years achieve in restoration

All too often we hear that “restoration takes so long to see a result” well this photo shows what plantings look like after a twenty year period. In the scheme of things twenty years is not really that long (I can imagine all the older folk adding twenty years onto their age. Yes, I do that too) but add it onto your children’s or grandchildren’s age and that make the effort well worthwhile. What a thing to leave for their generation to enjoy.
The other thing of course is that these trees are nowhere near their maturity.
You will note the swamp maire on the left side of the pond with its trunk in the water with bronze foliage. The totara has its head poking through the canopy at the back (dark green) and a rimu in front of it.
The person standing on the right gives it scale.

Citizen Science

On the 9th of April there was a citizen science symposium held at Te Papa Wellington. You may have heard the term but do you know what citizen science is all about?
Firstly the objective should have a meaningful scientific outcome. The ideal would be to have a paper published on the outcome so that the information collected could be shared.
The ideal citizen science project would have three participants;
An enabler. This person is usually attached to an organisation such as a city council or a government department such the department of conservation. They would coordinate the project and solicit funding.
The scientist. They would either develop, or review, the methodology to be used to ensure meaningful objectives were going to be met. Hopefully they would also write up and present a paper at its conclusion.
The community (group / volunteers). They would be the ones on the ground doing the collecting of data.

When designing the methodology there are two things to keep in mind.
The more people involved in collecting the data (the community group / volunteers) the simpler the methodology should be and it should require only minimal training.
If the collection of data is, by necessity complex, then it should only involve a very limited number of people who can be selected for suitability and training. 

This link is to a YouTube clip of Siobhan Leachman’s presentation at the symposium entitled “Developing a crowdsourcing project – Keeping volunteers on board (7:40).