Habitat Tuateawa

North Coromandel Aotearoa New Zealand ecological restoration

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Article from Cathy Leniston thanking the huge turnout for the Wetlands planting on 29/8/2020

A huge Thank You to all who helped out at the Wetland this Saturday, especially those who have also done baitlines in the same weekend. There must have been at least twenty volunteers there so I won’t name you individually.
There were a few more behind the scenes whom I will mention however;  Julia who provided the scones and husband, Tony, who, took it upon himself to whip up a couple of pizzas in his outdoor oven. 
About 140 plants (mainly courtesy of WRC), went in, including the flax fans, untold linetrimming and some Watsonia bulb weeding, all in the equivalent of a forty hour week. Many hands make light work. Cam helped Mum cover the saplings.
Now all we need is a bit of rain to wet the coconut fibre ‘weed mats’. I reckon we can be confident we’ll get that.   A few people are wondering why we are planting mingi mingi and other trees that they haven’t noticed growing locally. Good question. When I’ve asked the experts where a similar wetland is located, I’ll let you know more.

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Seeking Consent to Bait in Tuateawa August 2020

Dear Residents, Landowners and Holiday-Home owners! As we have done for over 20 years now, we are planning to do our annual baiting in August. We chose to bait at this time of the year to protect fledging birds, a successful strategy which is shown by our abundant birdlife.

This year the subdivision will be treated with Diphacinone, this is a rat specific poison. The bait will be put into the bait stations that are located around our subdivision.

The bait stations in our surrounding forest area will be filled with a new toxin called Double Tap, which is a combination of Cholicalcipherol and Diphacinone, a bait that targets both possums and rats.

There will be signs installed, informing the public which area is being treated and what kind of bait is being used.

Please do not leave children or pets unattended!

All baits will be removed by the end of November.

For more information visit our website www.tuateawa.com or contact me nickytuateawa@hotmail.co.nz ,Mobile ph. 021 2696660.

Thank you for your cooperation and help in keeping Tuateawa beautiful!!!

Kind regards,

Nicola Baumgaertner

(Pest Control Coordinator, Habitat Tuateawa Inc.)

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Birds bouncing back on Ahuahu

A contribution by Pete Corson of Quality Conservation Limited.

Pictured: Tūī feeding on flax on Ahuahu Island. Photo by Pete Corson.

Red-crowned kākāriki, kākā, bellbird, tūī, New Zealand dotterel and pāteke have thrived over the last few years on pest-free Ahuahu/Great Mercury Island. This is a great reminder of the value of pest-free islands and a thank you to everyone for helping New Zealand’s offshore islands stay pest-free.

In March 2010, a team of ecologists visited Ahuahu to check out the conservation values. This led to conversations, consultation and ultimately a joint project between the island’s owners and the Department of Conservation to eradicate ship rats, cats and kiore from the island in 2014. The project was declared successful in 2016. A first full round of bird monitoring occurred in early 2015. More recently, shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown and 10 years after the first ecological assessment, a team of volunteers, as well as DOC and Great Mercury Island staff remeasured the same survey areas to find out what has happened. The results have been really encouraging.

Pāteke (brown teal) have been a standout. Pāteke were not observed on Ahuahu between 2010 and 2016, but in early 2017 a relaxed flock of nine of the birds were seen on one of the farm ponds. These birds are now going ballistic. The census indicated a minimum of 163 pāteke on the island currently, with flocks of up to 30 birds.

Chattering red-crowned kākāriki, racing through the forest like small fighter jets with a seeming disregard for the bird observers’ safety, have shown the largest increase of any of the forest birds, now 13 times more abundant. Tūī and bellbird (korimako), which were clustered together for monitoring, and kākā have more than doubled in numbers. These birds are now producing a great cocophany on the island. Encounter rates of bellbird and tūī are at the moment about 35 per hour compared to 15 per hour in 2015.

High pitched New Zealand dotterel (tūturiwhatu) were also measured on the beaches, estuary and sand dune areas in 2018 as well as at the time of the eradication in 2014. The numbers vary seasonally, but were recorded as 38 adults and 16 chicks in late 2018, up from only nine birds in 2014. That is more than one per cent of the total New Zealand dotterel population. 

Introduced birds such as blackbirds, song thrush, chaffinch, dunnocks and magpies increased between 2015 and 2020. There was a strong response in the large pine forest area on Ahuahu for both native and introduced birds but interestingly, introduced birds decreased in the native forest areas between 2015 and 2020.

What is clear is that the response of birds on Ahuahu has been great over the last five years while the island has been free of cats and rats. The island is certainly getting louder. This survey has been a good check to make sure the work done continues to deliver on the pest eradication project’s objectives – to reduce the biosecurity threat to the other Mercury Islands, to allow Ahuahu’s ecosystems to function without cats and rats, to have a place for threatened species and to have a place where people can engage with conservation. The island has been accessible to the public since the owners, Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite, took ownership in the late 1970s.

Monitoring will continue on Ahuahu. Seabird monitoring is due to occur later this year and vegetation plots and lizard surveys are planned in the future.

There has been over half a million trap nights on Ahuahu over the last five years to check for pests, but the best defence is if pests never get there. Everyone going to, or near, any of the Mercury Islands is urged to check their boats and gear for pests.