Don Newman, Peter Simpson, Colin Miskelly and Dale Shirtliff travelled to Mana Island around 8am Friday morning.

Travelling so early meant we had an extra day. Don focussed on unearthing the 26 spotted skink pitfall traps Lynn Adams had installed some time ago. Dale assisted Don in the morning and Peter with his light welling work in the afternoon. It’s 2 years since Peter did his last round of the 3 areas of lowland bush not far from the Lockwood. A number of species have benefitted from this process. Rewarewa have excelled and reached the canopy. Kohekohe and some kahititea showed significant growth. All target trees had their height and trunk diameter measured at 1.35 m above the ground.

Colin continued his seabird monitoring. Sunday 26th’s heavy rainfall caused flooding in the fluttering shearwater burrows and 7 chicks were found to have died. It turns out all species are around 3 weeks behind their normal breeding cycles. This means that a number of chicks will not have matured sufficiently to be banded until late January. Colin and Don visited the seabird breeding area Friday night with Colin focussing on diving petrel monitoring.

Saturday morning Don, Colin and Dale visited the flax weevil research area and set the 160 pitfall traps. The focus plants have all been destroyed completely by flax weevils. The trapping at this stage is to measure the effects of the flax destruction on the lizard, spider, slug and insect life when compared with data collected pre devastation of the flax plants.  

Peter continued with his light welling. Don returned to his spotted skink pitfall work. Colin and Dale searched for beach driftwood which would make ideal cover for lizards. Some of these logs were delivered to Weta Valley and some gathered between the workshop and the Hole in the Rock placed in the undergrowth adjacent to the beach. Dale and Colin searched for flax weevils wearing bee markers at flax weevil MIQ, after dark. The 2 marked weevils were recorded and released. The 1 unmarked weevil was taken back to the Lockwood, had a bee marker attached and was released the following morning at MIQ.

Don, Colin and Dale returned to the flax weevil area to monitor the pitfall trap catches Sunday  morning. Plenty of lizards, slugs and spiders were found – a positive sign considering the devastation of the flax. After lunch Peter completed the last of the light welling.

Don and Dale found the last of the spotted skink pitfall traps. Don closed the traps he had set and Dale set out to clear the overhanging branches on the Weta Valley track.

Colin returned to the seabird colony area to do further checking of individual birds.

A great team and so was much achieved.