Wednesday, February 29, 2012

HCC open day at Mangaiti Gully

Hamilton City Council in conjunction with Continuing Education Waikato University is running a number of Hamilton gully open days and lectures on gully restoration. They have scheduled a visit to Mangaiti Gully this Sunday 3rd March at 10am. If you would like to catch up on what is going on in your neighbourhood you would be most welcome to join us. We will be meeting at the concrete pad below the foot bridge which runs from 1 Grenache Place to 60 St James Drive.

Sexton Road track.

Work continued over the last month to upgrade the Sexton Road end of the track. A set of steps was built, retaining work was done on the downhill track and the track was extended over the soft mud area using heavy grade rubber tracking from an earth moving machine as a base. HCC supplied all the timber. Well worth a look if you are out walking.

Landcare Action Conference gully visit

Mangaiti had the honour of hosting fifty five conference attendees for a 45minute gully tour on Tuesday. A number of them were from Australia with one from as far away as Darwin. It would have been great to have more time to talk to them about their experiences as some of them sounded pretty interesting but time did not permit.

Lots of plants growing

We put a funding application in for potting mix and plant purchase from Trust Waikato and, in doing so, added up all the seedling plants that we have growing at some of our volunteers’ homes. There was a staggering 1530! Some will be planted out this winter but most will be grown on to the following winter.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fish survey

Waikato Regional Council scientists did a survey of 150metres of the stream north of the foot bridge and did spot checks in the ponds at the back of Sexton Road. The findings were really exciting. We will be getting the full report with all the numbers but I can tell you that mature breeding size, 125mm to 160mm, native Kokopu both Banded and Giant were found along with young ones 40 to 65mm. This indicates a good healthy breeding population exists. Most, but not all, were in the ponds at the back of Sexton Road.
Good numbers of Shortfinned Eels were present with lesser numbers of Longfinned. Also plentiful were Retropinna (Common Smelt).
Pest fish found were the odd Catfish and a number of Gambusia (Mosquitofish).
This is a very healthy fish population to build from as we restore to enhance their environment to further increase their population with particular focus on the Kokopu.

Photo: Giant Kokopu and the guys at work (double click on all photos to enlarge)

Possum trapping

We have caught three possums. All at the Sexton Road end. The live traps are a time consuming way of dealing with possums. Because they are trapped live a set trap has to be checked the following morning. We feel it is not humane to leaving them in the trap any longer than necessary. We find the best way to do this is to hook the door open (trap unset) and put apple in the unset trap over a number of days. This takes the pressure off trap inspections and if there are possums around it will train them to take the apple from the cage. When we see the apple being taken we can set the trap and catch it that night.

Dealing with Rats

It is proving very difficult to trap the rats. We are still doing trials. We are finding bait stations are much more effective than traps. After having one bait station as a trial we now have four in place with another eight on order. The bait we are using is Ditrac with an active ingredient of diphacinone. This has been selected because it has no after kill properties. That is if your moggy happens to eat a dead or dying rat it would not cause its death. The bait stations are secure and cats would not be able to get access to the bait blocks which are threaded onto a wire so the rats have to eat them inside the bait station.
The one trial station went through 45 bait blocks in two months.

Sexton Road track.

The first cut of the track is complete. We will now upgrade it as resources become available. The council workers have been down, at our request, to chainsaw through some large logs across the track.

Saturday working bees

It has been decided to suspend the Saturday working bees for the present and focus on the Wednesday morning ones. If there are people that work during the week but would like to participate please contact Rex, 854-0973 or email him, as there will be jobs coming up that may suit. Weekly or fortnightly servicing of the bait stations and traps is one job that comes to mind.