Under COVID Level 2 our numbers were restricted to 10 volunteers. High winds and unfavourable tides on the Friday brought our trip forward to midday. Only 1 person had to drop out, leaving a party of 9.
DOC ranger Nick told us about successful takahe transfers onto and off of Mana in preceding days. He also spoke of the sad demise of the shore plover programme on Mana.
Arriving earlier than planned in overcast and windy conditions some removal of tree lucerne and weeding was carried out. The fluttering shearwater site was checked and 2 birds were found in burrows – birds returning to lay eggs and begin incubation. This is 4 days earlier than previously recorded.
The Friday night critter search at the flax weevil site produced plenty of flax weevils (just 3 marked ones), an assortment of flies, slugs, weta and lizards. Everyone participated. Conditions were overcast, cold and windy.
Similar conditions applied Saturday morning. Will, Philippa and Allan set up the flax weevil pitfalls and Peter and Adrian carried the light-welling in Weta Valley. It is interesting to note that some areas they covered were ‘toxic’ with the droppings left by starling droppings. Some smaller trees were obviously damaged and some appeared to have died as a result of the birds’ presence.
Annemieke and newbie Amber checked out the Ngahere gecko site covers and the speckled skink pitfalls. Lots of Raukawa geckos, tree and giant weta were found but no target species.
Richard and early finishers made new plantings in the wetland. Dale completed planting of mostly taupata at the fairy prion site.
Saturday, although windy and cold and occasionally producing fine drizzle made working conditions okay.
We checked the forecast around Saturday dinner – winds gusting up to 45 knots were predicted for Sunday afternoon. Overnight rain was quite heavy. On Sunday morning we agreed on a pick-up time of midday – winds were still predicted to be building then and it would be close to full tide.
Pitfall traps needed to be closed and critters ID’d and counted at the flax weevil and speckled skink sites. Photos from our 20th anniversary exhibition in 2018 pictures (fauna and panorama only) were set up in the bio-security room. Some will be displayed in the Lockwood and some in the office.
It was quite a rough trip back but evidently nowhere near as bad as the trip out.
We had just a small crew on this work trip but achieved almost everything we set out to do.
Postscript: Annemieke adapted a pictorial version of scrabble which she called Hex-ono. It has small tiles with coloured pictures of NZ native fauna, including some found on Mana + tiny maps of Mana. She has donated this to the Lockwood for our future enjoyment. Very professionally made, including the set of rules. Thanks Annemieke.
Dale Shirtliff, FOMI Executive