Beech Mast Update

It seems quite obvious now that during 2019 and 2020 Beech Forests were headed towards another Mast season. The beginning of 2019 saw an unprecedented amount of seed generated by native trees. Seed fall in areas like St Arnaud and Lake Rotoroa was around 3,000 to 6,000 seeds per square meter, so this provided a lot of free food to get Rats and Mice breeding. Grampians doesn’t have a large number of Beech trees to produce the seeds, but there was a lot of other seed about. As we anticipated we had an influx of mice and rats but we seemed to have been able to keep numbers under control. However our catches of Rats on Grampians were up over 300% over previous years just for January and February alone. While a cold and wet spell may increase the attrition rate of these pests, we can usually anticipate increased catches for the next year or two. In “mast years” when huge amounts of seed are produced elsewhere, we can expect an overflow of Rats from others areas. More Rats & Mice means more food for Stoats and Weasels. We expect to see an increase of these killers.

Pest Capture

Rats are a prime predator on Grampians. If we can control them Birdlife will be much safer.

In the previous year we had less Rats and we hoped to have put a dent in breeding numbers, but here they come again. There’s a few more Mice about though and that’s not good.  Mice are a Trigger species for more Weasels and we certainly do not want them. We are having good success with a new lure to attract Possums. While they can be quite selective in approaching a trap with a lure they don’t like  the new lure is working well and our success rate has increased from around 5 per month we now get closer to 30.

Catches since October 2009             (To July 2022)


Rats in tree traps













Weka are back

Lots of Weka are being reported in Nelson city and even out as far as the Port. These little Guys are really bold and nosey. Please don’t be tempted to feed them. Yes I know they give you that pleading hungry look. But it’s just for show. Please keep your Dog under full control to help protect Weka. Dogs are a serious threat to Weka and while People often say their Dog wouldn’t harm one, they don’t really know and even DOC fully trained Dogs must wear a muzzle when Weka and Kiwi are present. Hearing an evening and morning chorus of Weka is something not experienced in Nelson City for over 80 years. Where I live its common to hear a chorus of around 10 birds all calling at once.

Did you know that Weka climb really well? They come in my garden, see Birds on the feeder and climb up the Ibiza or Magnolia trees and peer down to see what happening. Because they climb so well, Possum traps must be set a minimum of 1.5m off the ground to deter them.

Bryce Buckland