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At the time of writing this report New Zealand will go into lockdown to minimise the spread of coronavirus, at midnight tonight. This trip is likely to be our last for some time. Nine people participated in a very productive weekend with all tasks completed. Fewer numbers allowed greater distance between volunteers in the bedrooms. Our first task was to monitor critter activity in 40 of the trial mature flax plants, on Friday night i.e. the flax weevils. This activity was repeated with the remaining 40 plants Saturday night. Many of the marked weevils were found. We are yet to hear if there has been any movement between plants. Will continued the pitfall trapping of the trial area with Robin C and Richard, Saturday and Sunday. Jason and Adrian used old wharf materials to construct a replacement picnic table for the one removed from near the Tirohanga/Southern Track (northern one). Jason used the tractor to transport it to the site. Jason, Allan and Dale celebrated its arrival with port, cider and cheese and crackers. Seating for the hide was also made and installed Sunday. Allan and David placed small wooden blocks at the entrance of the white-faced storm petrel burrows (to restrict the size of birds entering) – Cathy’s idea to prevent flutterers and fairy prions using the burrows. David managed to also do some fernbird tracking. Surveying the flax planting around the island was carried out by David and Robin C – an important element of Will’s research programme. The Central Track was also pruned back. Those who finished early were able to remove weeds encroaching on/restricting movement along the wetland track. Dale cleared the caravan ready for removal and the office garage and FOMI storeroom tided up/stored materials. This was an enjoyable, smaller scale volunteer weekend. A number mentioned how smaller meant a better chance to get to interact with others. Everyone had a chance on Saturday night to introduce and brag about themselves and their connection with the island. Dale Shirtliff  ...

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This weekend our group focused on Will Brockelsby’s flax weevil research project. There were 12 of us though Annemieke and Andrea doubled as part of the white-faced storm petrel feeding (WFSP) team. The feeding team were also at the Lockwood. We shared a meal with them. Colin Miskelly outlined the flax weevil project so all present could appreciate the issues involved with the success/plague the weevils had created. Will outlined the night’s work. The usual Friday survey of the 80 trial flax plants was to be carried out with the weevils seen to be collected. To follow, a total of around 800 weevils on adjacent areas was needed. These were found with little difficulty and transported to a table set up in the office building. Will, Andrea, Jenny (from Lincoln) processed around a quarter of these – attaching numbered and coloured tiny tags (used on queen bees). Containers with the tagged weevils were labelled with plant numbers and had unmarked weevils added. These were transported back up the hill and released. Colin, Richard G, Christine, Peter, Annemieke, Jaz, Adrian and Dale carried this out. This was pretty much completed by 2am. A few showers Saturday morning delayed the setting up of the pitfall traps at the base of the trial flaxes. The group walked to the WFSP site to check out the burrows and site and take a look at the feeding process before proceeding to begin monitoring and opening up the pitfalls at the flax weevil site. Night two began with a shared meal with the new WFSP feeders. The group we had eaten with on Friday night returned home on the back sailing. The round the group intros were done again. Cathy M told us about her background and the WFSP project so far. As usual there were lots of questions and huge interest in the discussion. No plant survey was required Saturday evening so it was straight into collecting another 800 weevils for processing/packaging at the office. The whole weevil group was involved. Weevils were sourced this time from flax bushes near the top of Central Track. Another batch of weevils had tags attached, had non-tagged weevil added and were returned to and released onto their assigned flax bushes. The plentiful supply of weevils meant that all was finished around midnight. On Sunday the beauveria fungus solution to be sprayed on selected flax plants was prepared at the Lockwood by Jenny. The pitfall traps at the base of the trial flaxes were monitored and closed by Peter, Christine and Colin – catches were recorded. This team was followed up by a team (Adrian, Richard, Jaz and Dale)...

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The weather relented and allowed us easy passage on Friday. Nick and Gen, Theo and baby Georgia were at the boat to meet us after their 2 month stint on parental leave. Nice to see them back. Will led a large group to monitor fauna on the 80 flax bushes in his research project. Helen took Lucy up to the fluttering shearwater site checking out a few remaining burrows she suspected may have eggs or chicks. Saturday was a beautiful sunny day. John, Ben, Riana and Richard M left early to begin the beach litter survey south of McGregor’s Rock. Litter collection at their other two sites + the audits of materials found were completed by the end of the day. Helen and Andrea did maintenance at the fluttering shearwater site and carried out further prep work with the white-faced storm petrel burrows including pruning back spiky vegetation. Shannan, Joy and Richard G assisted Will setting up the pitfall traps at flax weevil project site. Later Will and Richard checked the flow of the irrigation system in preparation for the summer release of adult weevils where some plants will be watered. Annemieke, Cherie, Heather and Lucy made the most of the sunny morning trying to spot green geckos – no luck. They had set up the speckled skink pitfalls Friday night. Later the group installed 10 new traps at a site Richard G had spotted a possible ‘speckled’ last trip. Allan, Kate, Shannon and Joy continued the clearance of the upper Weta Valley track. Very overgrown. There was lots of pollen about and a few cases of hay fever. The group was not so active Saturday evening although Helen went back to the flutterers site to do further checks.  News came through that Sunday afternoon was not looking good for a safe trip home. Big winds and seas were forecast. Sunday dawned cloudy and windy. Everyone set off on their tasks but with a warning that they may need to cut short and come back early. Trevor (skipper) was contactable around 9am. He agreed that predicted gusts of 45 knots was not safe and that he would pick up the group at midday. All leaders were phoned and everyone was back by 11.30. Will and a small group managed to complete the flax weevil monitoring. Annemieke and the lizard group did a shortened ngahere gecko monitor and shut down their pitfall traps. Unfortunately no target lizards were found though a likely skink was spotted on the track near the new pitfalls.   The weather was pretty rough as the afternoon progressed. Just as well, we got back on the midday...

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Shore plover banding combos 2020


Posted on Apr 24, 2020

This is the message from the DOC ranger, 22/4/20 on how to ID the shore plovers…. Kia ora keen tūturuatu/shore plover spotters, First off, thanks to you all for being the eyes on the mainland for these special birds. Your sightings have been invaluable in tracking the movements of birds from Mana Island since the first release this year on February 13th. Since then there have been three transfers with a total of 31 birds arriving to Mana. Attached are the band combinations of all 31 birds (note, four birds only have one colour band). In an attempt to streamline the info coming in could we please ask from now on: Record date, time, location and colour band info for each sighting as best you can Send pictures only if all colour bands are clear and identifiable Include other useful info i.e. feeding behaviour, other birds close by, any sign of predators etc Collate your sightings and please send through weekly, on a Friday Please email all info and images to manaisland@doc.govt.nz, rcollen@doc.govt.nz and Cc btandy@doc.govt.nz. Thanks again and hopefully we see some of the more exploratory birds back on Mana soon…  Cheers Nick             Mana Island shore plover band combos 2020                 Band colours Sex Transfer date Release date Comments (incl. recent locations seen) 1 RO-BG F 5/02/20 13/02/20   2 RO-BR M 5/02/20 13/02/20   3 RO-BW M 5/02/20 13/02/20 Mana Island 4 RO-BY F 5/02/20 13/02/20 Mana Island 5 RO-GO M 5/02/20 13/02/20   6 RO-GR M 5/02/20 13/02/20   7 RO-GW F 5/02/20 13/02/20 Hutt River mouth 8 RO-OB F 5/02/20 13/02/20   9 RO-OG F 5/02/20 13/02/20   10 RO-OR F 5/02/20 13/02/20   11 RO-OY F 5/02/20 13/02/20   12 RO-RB F 5/02/20 13/02/20   13 RO-RG M 5/02/20 13/02/20   14 RO-RO M 5/02/20 13/02/20   15 RO-RW M 5/02/20 13/02/20 22/2/20 – transferred to Wildbase 16 RO-RY F 5/02/20 13/02/20   17 RO-WB   5/02/20 13/02/20 Miramar Peninsular, Hutt River mouth 18  — B F 25/03/20 3/04/20   19  — O F 25/03/20 3/04/20 Plimmerton 20  — R F 25/03/20 3/04/20 Plimmerton 21  W — F 25/03/20 3/04/20 Plimmerton 22 YO-RB M 25/03/20 3/04/20 Mana Island 23 YO-RY M 25/03/20 3/04/20 Mana Island 24 YO-WB F 25/03/20 3/04/20 Plimmerton 25 YO-WG F 25/03/20 3/04/20   26 YO-WO F 25/03/20 3/04/20 Titahi Bay 27 RO-BO M 11/04/20 20/04/20 Mana Island 28 RO-WO F 12/04/20 20/04/20 Mana Island 29 RO-WR   13/04/20 20/04/20 Mana Island 30 RO-YR M 14/04/20 20/04/20 Mana Island 31 RO-GY F 15/04/20 20/04/20 Mana Island...

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Mice vs Mana – a tale of success


Posted on Apr 11, 2020

Mouse eradication programme on Mana Island – 1989-91 Between 1989 and 1991 there was a major mouse eradication programme on Mana Island. At the time, Mana was the largest island in the world to be cleared of mice. Estimates ranged from 5 to 15 million mice!  This fascinating article in Forest & Bird magazine, published in May 1990, tells the story of the ambitious project to eliminate the plague of mice. It also recounts the early days of tree planting by volunteers.  The mice vs Mana story even featured in Time Magazine.  The efforts to eradicate the mice led to a question being asked in the NZ Parliament. A story about ‘marauding mice’ was in the Dominion newspaper in August 1989 with the headline Mickey taken out of mouse reports.  The Conservation Minister was asked by local Porirua MP Graham Kelly if they could be a problem for his electorate. The answer was no, and a local mousetrap industry was not required! Just 18 months after the last mouse was caught, the island was declared rodent free.  Before the eradication programme began, 204 mice were caught in one night using a simple bucket trap at the back door of one of the houses on Mana Island, as shown in this photo.   ...

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Friday was breezy and the trip to Mana was bumpy. Leon met us at the boat and assisted with the transfer of gear to the Lockwood. Nick and Gen are on parental leave, Gen recently having given birth to baby Georgia. Our group of 17 shared space at the Lockwood. Rose, Jana, Christina, Debbie and James were all first timers to Mana. Conditions were fine for flax weevil site monitoring after 8pm.  The forecast for Saturday rain was accurate. A cloudy morning eventually brought rain of increasing intensity which then ebbed away early evening as the front passed. Annemieke, Brittany and James monitored the ngahere covers. Just one spotted this time. Green geckos are sun bathers. The team didn’t bother checking Saturday because of the overcast conditions. Miguel, Xavier and Jana assisted Will monitoring the flax weevil site and setting the pitfall traps. This was finished before the rain began. Peter and Cathye worked on clearing the upper reaches of the overgrown Weta Valley Track. Richard led a group weeding the wetland pathway – a mass of thistles, ink weed and similar pest plants infested this area. He was assisted by Rose, Debbie, Christina and Chris. Brittany and Jana joined this group which persevered until steady rain made stopping a sensible option. Helen spent the day checking fluttering shearwater burrows – (lots of birds incubating eggs) and doing trimming of the guano fuelled grass growth; and checking out the readiness of the white-faced storm petrel (WFSP) burrows. David was determined to track down the remaining fernbirds and spent the day doing this. After the rain stopped on Saturday evening a group of mostly young people walked to Forest Valley in a vain search for Duvaucel’s geckos. A sunny Sunday for painting birds The front having passed through Sunday dawned sunny and with few clouds. A great day to paint gannets! Annemieke, Cathye, Christina and Debbie made a great team in ideal conditions with Annemieke doing the fine detail work. Lots more to do next trip. Will, Jana, Brittany and Xavier monitored and closed down the flax weevil site pitfalls. Later, Brittany, Annemieke and James checked out the green gecko site and closed down the speckled skink pitfalls – without seeing any speckled skinks. However, Richard photographed what we suspect is a speckled skink about 200m further up the Weta Valley track. Lynn Adams and Rod Hitchmough at DOC (they were sent a copy) are not 100% sure it’s speckled but are pretty excited and want us to investigate the new area. Peter and James spent the morning light-welling – the area will need to be completed next trip. One day on this...

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