Volunteer News 19th February

Hi all,

This email contains:

1. Latest and forthcoming sessions

2. Post baiting rat monitoring results

3. Kōkako nesting update

4. Rimu fruiting counts

5. Plastic bags for baiting rubbish

6. Ark session calendar

Happy reading!


ARK IN THE PARK volunteer coordinator

Physical address: Cascades Ranger Station

Falls Road, Waitākere

PO Box 95194, Swanson, Auckland 0653

09 810 7014

1. Latest events and forthcoming sessions

We have been very lucky with the weather last week and as a result, we managed to check all the rat monitoring lines within the week! (minus Gleeson which is closed because it is in the middle of a highly valuable kauri area). This rate of completion is a record since the Ark began counting so many monitoring lines (200 tunnels, including Pig Wallow block and the control line)! Thank you to all of you who could help.

We will now have to wait until the return of the rainy season so that wasp nests die and we can start our autumn baiting round. This should happen sometime in April.

There will be a volunteer session on Thursday 21st and on Saturday 23rd of February. Both sessions will start at 8:30am at the ranger station. We will carry on our access lines maintenance. Please note that there is a risk of the Saturday session being cancelled because of bad weather. If it does happen, we will communicate the information via email at least the day before.

Please let me know if you are coming to any of these sessions. Also please note that if you make a last minute decision (after 5pm) or have an unexpected change of plans it's best that you leave a message on our phone 09 810 7014 rather than email me.

2. Post baiting rat monitoring results

Overall rat monitoring: 13.3%

Control line (Wainamu): 50%

Northern Ark (from northern Ark to W and K blocks included): 9%

Southern Ark (from AWS and CG blocks to southern Ark): 19%

Pig Wallow (block with 60 A24s on a grid of 50m x 100m): 90% rats and a possum

D block was baited with Diphacinone but there are no monitoring lines in this block

Other blocks baited with Diphacinone (AWN and some of AWS lines): these areas have their own monitoring lines. These results are not part of the overall rat monitoring:

Pre baiting 22%

Post baiting 1.6%

3. Kōkako nesting update

Maurice the kokako in flight (Photo: Grant Capill

The kōkako nesting season is coming to an end, although we have one nest still active: Maurice and his unbanded partner are attending to their second nest of the season, after successfully fledgling two chicks late last year. There is also a potential nest just south of the Ark area near Ian Wells track although this pair are so elusive we haven’t been able to confirm the nesting. Overall it has been a mixed season, with some highs and lows.

Nesting efforts of 7 pairs have been tracked by the team of contractors and Ark volunteers. These 7 pairs produced 9 nests. Of these 4 failed, probably due to predation by any of rats, possums, stoats, harriers or ruru. Six fledglings have been banded from the other 4 nests. Lets hope Maurice and Unbanded’s second clutch get away successfully to add to that tally.

Of the well known pairs - Francis and Zelah nested again on private property on Scenic Drive, enabling some great photo opportunities of them and their fledgling. Last week one of Maurice and Unbanded’s chicks that fledged in December was seen up in the Gleeson block, already a long way from its nest site near Cutty Grass track! An unbanded juvenile was also seen. Seeing unbanded juveniles helps to balance the sad news of losing chicks, as it tells us that there is also successful breeding occurring in nests we don’t find.

4. Rimu fruiting count

The Department of Conservation uses the production of rimu fruits to predict kākāpō breeding years. Kākāpō only breed when rimu trees put out exceptional quantitites of fruit, which happens about every two to four years.

Rimu follows a complex four-year pattern. If the summer of year 1 is warmer than average, followed by a cooler than average summer in year 2, then the rimu will produce pollen during the summer of year 3 and finally fruit during the summer of year 4. A rimu mast year is defined as one in which at least 20% of branch tips produce fruit that survives through winter. Ripe seed begins falling during summer/autumn and can continue through winter and into spring.



A group of enthusiastic volunteers (Jacqui Geux, Grant Capill, led by Karen Colgan) have been monitoring rimu trees in the Ark and nearby since January 2017, and their results are summarised in the graph below (click on the picture to see its enlarged version):

Overall the fruiting average for the trees sampled in the Ark was 15.5% considered a moderate masting, but over 20% in the Cutty Grass area where there was unrecorded ripe fruit already on the ground.

All of this fruit is an important food source for our native species, but also fills the bellies of rats!

5. Plastic bags for baiting rubbish

The Ark is now using washable bags made of fabric to carry the fresh bait. We encourage regular volunteers to look after their own reusable bags in which they can carry the old bait and other rubbish we bring out from the bush and empty them in our bin at the volunteer base before they wash them at home (we keep plenty at the Ark base if you need one).

However we still need disposable bags for all the other volunteers who do not have their own bags. So if you have any plastic bags in good condition, we'd like to have them!

6. Ark session calendar

Wednesday 20th February: Auckland Pest Liaison Group meeting, 10am - 12:30pm, Fickling Centre, Three Kings

Thursday 21st February, 8:30am volunteer session: line maintenance

Saturday 23rd February, 8:30am volunteer session: line maintenance

Thursday 28th February, 8:30am volunteer session

Saturday 2nd March: no volunteer session

Thursday 7th march, 8:30am volunteer session

Saturday 9th March, 8:30am volunteer session and induction session

Sunday 10th March, 10am-11:30am, Kauri Science Series, Arataki Center

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. Ark in the Park Project Website. All rights reserved.