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”.
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!
Latest Kokako Release
We are very glad to have received 10 new kōkako from Mapara Wildlife Reserve!
Photo Grant Capill
A big thank you to the teams who have been braving cold and dark mornings to catch these birds. Catching teams have been made up of a contractor, Dave Bryden, to lead the work and volunteers from Ark in the Park, Auckland Council and Maungatautari Ecological Island.
As we are working in a partnership with these two other groups, catching will included birds sent to the Hunua Ranges or Maungatautari.
The Ark kōkako census is now underway and the team are off to a great start!
Walk through surveys have been completed in D, W and IW blocks.
Three founder pairs have been confirmed - Maurice and Kowhai, Sophie and Pierre and Totara and Puke.
Six territorial unbanded birds have also been recorded, these are kōkako fledged at the Ark.
Perhaps the best news is that an unbanded pair with a juvenile have been found. This is probably the first known Ark kōkako grandchild!
The team will continue their work at dawn over coming weeks.
Thursday 5th May saw the release of a further 100 whiteheads/pōpokotea at the Waitākere Dam. A group of students and volunteers were there to welcome the birds to their new home. When the boxes were opened the birds flew out with a loud chorus of chirping and remained in the canopy feeding and calling. We wish them well for their first night here in their new habitat!
Tiritiri Matangi pōpokotea - Photo Laurie Ross
Stoat research in the Ark:
An Auckland University PhD student has recently completed some research at the Ark, to test whether more stoats can be caught in traps using the usual bait plus the addition of a ferret pheromone.
To trial the lure he asked for help from the 14 Ark trap lines that catch the highest number of stoats.
His report on this preliminary trial is as follows:
"In traps used for the trial 1 stoat was caught in a regular trap and 4 stoats were caught in traps with the addition of the scent lure. These captures rates are too low to draw firm conclusions, but results are promising.
Additionally, 19 rats were caught in both the lure traps and the regular traps, so they were not deterred by the scent.
I hope to repeat the trial in summer, when stoats are at their peak and any improvement in captures rates will be magnified. I will be including the results from this trial at a conference in Australia this November and I'm also adding details to my PhD.”
Rat Population Trends:
Thank you to trappers for sending through your catch reports, and to Maurice Colgan for compiling all the data. There is no sign of an undue build up of numbers at the edges of the Ark, and internal catches are tracking normally, with a steady drop since baiting was resumed in Spring.
Right now in the Ark...
The second round of Spring baiting is now nearly completed. Trap catches, and monitoring results, suggested another season of high rat numbers was developing, but bait uptake is generally low. Perhaps this is because, unlike 2014, there is not a heavy rimu fruiting to supercharge the general effect of the warm winter. Also cause for optimism that predator control will be maintained is that we now have a more dense grid of bait stations.
The walk through surveys are now complete. The team will do some follow up work at certain sites and there is also still some acoustic recorder analysis to do.
As you will read below there has been some partner reshuffling with the arrival of the newly translocated birds and the chicks fledged at the Ark reaching maturity.
We are now mid way through Spring and the kōkako are starting to quieten down in preparation for the breeding season. Its important that we keep a watch on our pairs to be alerted of nesting behaviour. Lets hope it’s a bumper season!
At the time of writing the previous chapter no Mangatutu birds had been found so it is pleasing that two Mangatutu kōkako have now been found. Gordon (YM-YB) was the first Mangatutu bird sighted this census. He was found outside the Ark on the new KOK access line. Gordon arrived as a translocated single and still appears to be single.
Kiwitea (YM-GB), the second Mangatutu bird, has paired up with unbanded bird and together they are holding a territory at the eastern end of the KOK block, with this territory extending across Remus Roe stream and out of the Ark. Last census this territory was held by an unbanded pair, perhaps Kiwitea pushed out one of the previous unbanded territory holders.
Grace (M/GW) was also sighted in the eastern end of the KOK block with a mature unbanded bird. Totara and Puke were located outside of the Ark along the Ian Wells track.
A banded pair sighted in the mid-eastern end of KOK block are presumably Pierre and Sophie, as they are in an area of territory previously held by Pierre and Sophie. Pierre was positively identified at a later date and the team will follow up to hopefully confirm the sightings of Sophie.
Areas outside the Ark that were surveyed are: 789a Scenic Drive, Browne track, Cutty Grass track from Ridge Road track to Anawhata Rd (and along Anawhata Rd), the southern part of Ian Wells track outside of Ark and the new KOK access line.
Manuka (Marty’s previous partner), Kiekie (Grace’s previous partner), Hinau and Andy (Maurice and Kowhai’s banded chicks) were not found this census. Marty and Grace were found with unbanded birds as new partners instead.
Tally so far:
9 of the 21 birds that arrived in 2015 and 2016 have been found, it was expected that not all the new arrivals would be found in the first 1 or 2 censuses. This is why the NZ Kōkako Specialist Group (formerly the Recovery group) advised that we next receive kōkako in 2019, because we need to allow at least 3 censuses to gain a thorough picture of birds and territories.
As we know from experience with Grace and Kiekie and Maurice and Kowhai’s chicks Andy and Hinau, kōkako can disappear for 2 or 3 years at a time and then reappear.
Founders to date: 19
Marty (+ unbanded bird)
YM/RY female in AWN
YM-RG female in CGN
Unbanded Birds: 13
4 single birds at various locations
2 pairs, one with a juvenile
Juvenile with Rata and Thurley/Aumangea
Grace's possible partner
Also great news is that Hinau, an Ark chick banded in November 2013 (see below) was recently sighted again, for the first time.
The team will now follow up, aiming to verify the identities of the birds seen with Karen and Pierre, as well as covering areas where Rata and Dylan were found last year.
We are also hoping to confirm the presence of our 11 newly released kōkako.
Additionally many hours of recordings are being analysed to check for the presence of birds which the survey team then follow up on foot.
Thanks to all involved so far!
Every year since the first release of 53 robins in 2005 Ark volunteers (with overseas students a key element) have sought out nest sites and monitored the breeding success of the pairs - typically three clutches of 2-3 chicks per season. In the 2010 breeding season we located the nests of 11 pairs (and of course there will be a lot more we didn't discover), and new nesting territories, thanks to the efforts of volunteers who have spread out and found where the birds have settled. Anyone who is interested in helping should contact our Volunteer Coordinator. Volunteers need to have time available Monday to Friday, and to be fit enough to move off-track through our steep and slippery bush.
These birds are some of the most charming to be found in the New Zealand bush, with their quiet inquisitive nature making them easy to study and enjoy. Above is a picture taken recently by one of our star robin-finders, Grant Capill, who is shown to the right, hard at work or, just possibly, asleep.
Heidrun and Keryn have been doing a magnificent job on the Auckland City walk finding and protecting robin nests from stoats with John Stewart helping to band fledglings. On one day Heidrun saw 15 birds and one chick!
Thanks to those of you who helped with rat monitoring. The April results are now in!
Overall: 5.8% (compared to 60% in lines outside the Ark)
These levels are excellent for a time of the year when rat populations are climbing to their peak, and when there has been three to four months since the last baiting.
Meanwhile, the Stoaters continue to tramp around their circuits, with 83 mustelids, and 354 rats caught in the year ending 30 June 2016.
Then there's the teams attacking weeds, navigators extending lines to fill in gaps..