Volunteer News 29th November

Hi all,

This email contains:

1. Latest sessions and forthcoming events

2. Project manager’s patch – whitehead programme and SER award for the Ark

3. Ark session calendar

Happy reading!


ARK IN THE PARK Volunteer Co-Ordinator

Physical address: Cascades Ranger Station

Falls Road, Waitākere

PO Box 95194, Swanson, Auckland 0653

09 810 7014

Web site Facebook Flickr

1. Latest sessions and forthcoming events

Last Thursday, the Ark hosted a group from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for a sunny day in the park. The group divided into those who wanted to try baiting and those who preferred weeding. We baited 11 lines and the rest of us went across the road to pull out some montbretia and blackberry along the little stream. Baiters and weeders regrouped for lunch around the BBQ. It was an eye opening experience for the PwC crew. Thank you to the Ark volunteers for guiding our visitors!

We completed the weeding of a section of the stream on Saturday and planted some flax in the afternoon, which had been trimmed in the morning during the volunteer session. There is more to do along the stream, so we'll be back in the future.

This week, we will have a volunteer session on Thursday only, when we will bait in the difficult T block. Meeting time is 8:30am at the ranger station. Please let me know if you are coming to this session. Also please note that if you make a last minute decision 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.

Final reminder: there won't be a volunteer session on Saturday, but we look forward to seeing lots of you on Saturday for the trapping refresher at 11am, followed by the end of year BBQ. A chance to relax and reflect on your hard work!

Welcome to Andy Barnett, Ariana Gordon-Glassford , Trevor Henry, Connor Mathias, Daniel Te Whata, Judy Zhu who joined the Ark in October.

Also thank you to our sausage cooks: Ken Harrop, Rosemary Downard, Marilyn Burgess, Helen and Patrick Doherty for taking care of the BBQ after the weekend sessions.

2. Project manager’s patch – whitehead programme and SER award for the Ark

Whitehead/pōpokotea reintroduction programme

We have now completed 8 translocations of whitehead/pōpokotea, the first in 2004 and the most recent in May this year. A total of 653 whitehead have been caught on Tiritiri Matangi and released at the Ark.

Post release monitoring is an essential part of any translocation and was undertaken at the Ark via four methods: Volunteer survey of 5 -10 set loops, contractor survey of bait lines and known hotspots, opportunistic sightings from volunteers working at the Ark and automatic acoustic recorders.

Jacqui Geux completed a survey of known hotspots and in 2015 and 2016 five banded birds and two unbanded fledglings were seen on a number of occasions around Arataki Visitors Centre. Although this site is outside the Ark the Gateway Sanctuary volunteer programme based at Arataki will be offering the birds protection from predators.

Three banded birds were recorded within the Ark in the Tramline track area and one banded bird on the Ark’s western border at Long Rd.

No birds were detected this year on the survey day in mid October encompassing 5 loops (3 inside and 2 outside the Ark).

As we have completed all the translocations agreed under our DOC permit a Technical Advisory Group meeting was held last week at the DOC office at North Head.

The meeting was attended by myself, Ark volunteers, DOC staff, representatives of Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi and an independent translocation contractor.

Iwi representatives and an Auckland Council representative were invited but were unable to attend on the day.

Key points from the meeting:

The outcome of the reintroduction programme is currently uncertain. It may turn out to be a success, but we can’t say for sure either way yet. This means we will not carry out any more translocations for the next 5 years, instead monitoring will be the main focus.

It is not known whether the main factor in the lack of establishment is dispersal or predation, or a combination of both.

The number of recorded whitehead sightings in the Ark and surrounds is low, especially when compared to the North Island robin reintroduction in which release of only 83 birds has resulted in a high number of sightings of adults and 170 known chicks, with the total number likely to be significantly higher.

Whitehead translocations have been successful to a number of island sites, as well as mainland sites that are not linked to other forest areas.

Whiteheads are vulnerable to ship rat predation, and therefore do better on predator free islands and in colder parts of the North Island where very low numbers of ship rats survive through winter.

Whiteheads have established a population at Maungatuari Ecological Island in the Waikato. This is a mainland site but is a predator-free fenced sanctuary surrounded by farmland (meaning dispersal outside of the site is very low).

Only one other translocation of whitehead to a mainland sanctuary within a continuous area of forest has been attempted, and this was not successful.

Learnings and observations from the Ark’s experience is useful to the national knowledge base regarding both pōpokotea as a species and translocations to mainland sites.

Next steps

We will continue carrying out annual monitoring on the 5 loops. This will be supplemented by surveys at least annually over known hotspots and baitlines similar to what Jacqui completed this year. Automatic acoustic recorders will continue to be used too.

In 2021 the Technical Advisory Group will meet again to review the survey and sightings data from now until then.

If the number of sightings increases over the next 5 years more translocations will be considered, although if the number dramatically increases then further releases may not be required!

If it is decided to do another translocation(s) then another source site will be considered. This would likely be a mainland site where whitehead would be familiar with predators and possibly more resilient.

How you can help

Please keep your eyes and ears open for pōpokotea while you are at the Ark and report any sightings or hearings either on our online form here (which allows you to see previous sightings), by completing the section on the back of your bait card or by sending us an email.

You can learn more about whiteheads and hear their call here http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/whitehead

Thank you very much to the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi for their invaluable support and assistance with all aspects of the programme, including their expertise in catching the birds.

Thank you also to the Ark volunteers who have helped with catching trips, monitoring and reporting sightings.

The Ark is awarded a Highly Commended certificate

Last week in Hamilton the joint conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA) & the New Zealand Ecological Society (NZES) was held.

Part of the conference was an awards scheme and I’m pleased to be able to tell you that the Ark was Highly Commended in the category of Excellence in Restoration Practice, for large projects (over 50ha).

From the conference website: “This award acknowledges projects that have made a significant, enduring or internationally recognized contribution to the science and/or practice of ecological restoration through achieving high standards of practice at a site or the development of innovative new approaches, methods and/or strategies for involving the public in restoration efforts”.

For your interest the 3 deserving winners of this category were:

Motuora Island – New Zealand

Motutapu Island – New Zealand

Big Scrub Landcare – NSW Australia

Thanks to John Sumich for submitting the Ark application and well done to all involved with the Ark currently and in the past!

5. Ark session calendar

Thursday 1st December, volunteer session, 8:30am - baiting T block

Saturday 3rd December, trapping refresher and end of year BBQ (no field work)

Thursday 8th December, volunteer session, 8:30am - baiting

Saturday 10th December, volunteer session, 8:45am - baiting

Thursday 15th December, volunteer session, 8:30am - choice between baiting (8:30am) and seed collection with a group from Southern Cross (9am), all followed by scone party (Doro's departure)

Saturday 17th December, volunteer session, 8:45am - baiting, last session of 20

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