News

News

Beech Mast Update

2015 saw an unprecedented amount of seed generated by native trees. Seed fall in areas like St Arnaud and Lake Rotoroa is around 3000 to 6000 seeds per square meter, so this provides 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 seem to have been able to keep numbers under control. However our catches of Rats 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 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. This year the mast didn’t really happen and at St Arnaud the poison drop was cancelled. (Maybe DOC use the money saved to go towards a better solution than dumping 1080??)

Pest Capture

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

Although we were getting a lot of Rats last year, it does seem that there are less about this year – 168 this year so far. Hopefully we have put a dent in the breeding Rat numbers. There’s a few more Mice about though and that’s not good – 38 since January. Possums are being trap shy and there’rs been 63 caught this year so far. Few Stoats or Weasels to report, but there’s always a few about.

Catches since 2009

Rats

Possums

Mice

Hedgehogs

Stoats

Weasels

1830

798

475

95

25

26

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 clim so well, Possum traps must be set a minimum of 1.5m off the ground to (try to) deter them

Great White Butterfly

The battle with the “Great White Butterfly” continues and DOC staff are on the go for new sightings from early September. A competition will be held for School Children to find Butterfly eggs for money. A small parasitic wasp is being employed to help in the fight. The wasp lays eggs in the butterfly lava and stops it from going to its chrysalis stage. When the wasps go to their chrysalis stage the Butterfly grub does the same but when its spins its cover, instead of wrapping itself up, it puts it over the wasp grubs to protect them from harm. How cool is that?? If you have a crop of cabbage or have nasturtiums growing check them for eggs of this pest. We will only get this chance to stop it getting established in NZ. Sat this stage the great work done by dedicated DOC Staff seem to have the this pest under control and no Great whites have been seen now for 12 months.

Banded Rail

On the start of the Marahau track (in pouring rain) I saw a Banded Rail. It seemed quite relaxed with getting his photo taken and walked right under the boardwalk beneath me. In early September I saw 2 Banded Rail standing on the open mudflat between Pearl Creek and the Bridge to Rabbit Island. A sure testimony to the great trapping of predators in that area. Well done. Related to the Weka they will fly but not for any great distance.

Bittern

If on the cycle trail on the way to Rabbit Island, at Pearl Creek watch out for Bittern in the estuary. There are brush screens erected at the stream crossing now so you can Birdwatch without the subjects feeling threatened. If you see the rather solid Bird looking straight upwards, chances are its a Bittern. They are usually a shy Bird. Their prime defence is to look straight up and make like a bunch of reeds. (no wonder they are rare!)