Thursday, February 18, 2016

A disappointing year for possum control

We finished the year with 18 possums caught in 2015 within our 2 hectare restoration block. To compare that with history we caught 22 the first year in 2012, followed by 10 in 2013, then 9 in 2014, then a jump up to 18. Last year also included a HCC contractor trapping through the whole Mangaiti gully system for a fortnight with Timms traps in July. Since Christmas we have caught another five.  The re-infestation is unacceptably high.

The third fresh water fish survey

Waikato Regional Council fresh water scientist completed a third fish survey of 50 metres of the Mangaiti stream within our restoration area. They are pleased with the consistent results. The highlight of this survey was the recording of a good sized Giant Kokopu and a good sized Long Finned Eel. The Long Finned Eel is the larger of the two eel species found in New Zealand.  The Short Finned Eel is the one that is commonly seen and is smaller. The Long Finned Eel is the one that leaves the New Zealand fresh water system when it is ready to breed and migrates up to the Pacific waters to spawn. The glass eels as they are known, presumably because of their transparent look, somehow find their way back to New Zealand and enter fresh water river and stream systems. These are getting endangered and should not be fished.

Last major clearing job

But this is a biggie with a mass of mainly Honey Suckle over the ground. It has dragged down any growing thing and covered over any old dead trees. It will be an interesting site to plant. It is not bog but it does not dry out in the heat of summer. Frost will be a problem in winter so the plants will have to be frost tolerant. We are working out a planting plan at the moment. This depends on what we have available, or access to, that suits the growing conditions. The main canopy tree will be Kahikatea with a few Pokaka. We are looking to plant a number of Hoheria sexstylosa which will suit the conditions and form a short-lived canopy which will enable us to plant an under-storey of less frost-tolerant natives at a later date. There is another advantage of planting Hoheria sexstylosa and that is it is favoured by the Puriri or Ghost Moth which, at present, uses the willows and privet in their grub stage. The gaps will be filled in with species like Manuka, Astelia and a variety of Coprosmas. The stream edge will no doubt be planted with Carex secta. The target planting date will be the autumn of 2017.

Preparing for autumn planting

There is an area below the main track as it rises up to the Sexton Road entrance where we have been clearing and spraying off the Glyceria maxima for an eighteen month period. If you refer to the photo, the area in the foreground was planted last winter and has recently be mulched. Across the stream will be planted this autumn in predominantly flaxes Phormium tenax. Kahikatea will be planted as a future canopy tree and Carex secta along the stream edge. A few miscellaneous species will be planted along the foot of the slope.

A road named after us!

While driving around the King Country I spotted this road off Highway 4. It looks as though it has suffered from a few shot gun pellets.