Beech Mast Update

It seems quite obvious now that 2018 and 2019 Beech Forests will be headed towards another Mast season. 2015 saw an unprecedented amount of seed generated by native trees. Seed fall in areas like St Arnaud and Lake Rotoroa was around 3000 to 6000 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 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.

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 they are steady – 467 between April 2017 and 2018. 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 – 86 since January (2018) .  Mice are a Trigger species for more Weasels and we certainly do not want them. Possums are being trap shy and there’s been 35 caught this year so far and there’s always a few about.

Catches since 2009 (To October 2018)


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 (try to) deter them.