Friday, April 20, 2012

13 bait stations

We have finally got all 13 of our rat bait stations installed. The map shows the approximate location of each.
Some are really remote but numbers 8 and 5 are just off the track. Ditrac is the name of the pellets we are using. They do not pose a danger to anything that may eat a poisoned mouse or rat. We record the number of pellets we add to each station. It is quite apparent that bait stations in some locations are being frequented by rats a lot more than other locations.

The bait stations have all been painted dark green so they are less likely to be seen and tampered with by the public.

Autumn planting has started

We have planted 48 kahikatea and 40 Astelia grandis under the willow canopy just north of the foot bridge. These plants have been raised by us with this location in mind. The aim is to return the gully floor back to a wetland kahikatea forest. The trees were planted approximately 5 metres apart with a 2-year slow release fertiliser tablet under each one.

The Astelia grandis were planted around existing adult plants to form groves.

We still have about 90 kahikatea and about 40 Astelia that we will grow on until next autumn before we plant them further up the gully.

Mahoenui Giant Wetas

While this is not directly connected to Mangaiti Restoration, I thought I would share with you some photos I took while I was on assignment to collect 100 Mahoenui Giant Wetas to be released into the southern enclosure of the Maungataurtari Ecological Island. These wetas are remarkable insects.
A summary of some facts that may be of interest:
· The Giant Weta can weigh as much as 25g and the body can measure up to 65mm.
· They have a three-year life cycle
· They do not sting or bite.
· They were first discovered in 1962
· Their only known natural location in New Zealand is a few hundred hectares of gorse in the King Country south east of Piopio.
· They have survived in the gorse because of the difficulty rats have in predating them in that environment.
· Their natural habitat is in the canopy of tawa trees.
· Only two of eight translocation attempts have been successful to date.
· This is the first attempt to release them into Maungataurtari.
In the photos the only reason we are wearing gloves is because of the gorse.
Photo 1. The gorse reserve
Photo 2. Female weta
Photo 3. Male weta
Photo 4. Wetas mating!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Preparation for autumn planting

The Wednesday working bees have been preparing the ground for the autumn planting. The four main target areas are;
1/ South of the walk bridge where the Glyceria has been sprayed off and the Willows trimmed back.
2/ Mass planting of Kahikatea and Astelia that we have raised ourselves are to go under the canopy from the board walk north.
3/ The gully side at the back of Sexton Road where the three Kauri are (behind No. 43).
4/ Under-canopy planting on the drier gully sides of 148 Kawakawa Macropiper excelsum that we have grown from seed. These are frost tender so we will be picking sheltered sites.

Giant Sedge Gahnia xanthocarpa one year on

Like Mainland Cheese, “good things take time”. These twenty three seedlings have just been transplanted from their seed raising tray. Wayne Bennett said at the time we collected the seed from Pukemokemoke last year that it takes about twelve months to grow. It was sown on the 6th March 2011 and these are the seedlings twelve months later. The photo with the pack shows the fully grown sedge that the seed was gathered from.

Native Weta

During one of our storms last month a Kanuka, down from the walk bridge, was blown over. When cutting it up for removal (firewood) it was noticed that there was a large Weta hole in the trunk. That section was kept aside and made into a Weta hotel. The Weta was coaxed out with a piece of apple as a lure, stored among forest litter in a shoe box while the trunk was converted, then reintroduced and installed back onto a tree in the gully.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Weta had had enough by then and has not been seen since. It is hoped that another Weta will discover a really cosy home and take up residence. There are signs of a good Weta population in the area.

Fish Hotels

Yes it has been a month of building accommodation for our fauna. On advice from Waikato Regional Council Fish Scientist we have started installing accommodation to attract more native fish to our stream. Four concrete block hotels were installed in ponds in the gully behind Sexton Road. The target fish are Giant and Banded Kokopu.

To complement this we are planting the stream banks with Carex to provide shade and possible egg-laying sites.