Update on Kauri Dieback prevention and Ark operations:

The following message was recently posted by the Ark Volunteer Reps:

Dear fellow volunteers

As your elected representatives (both as contact people and on the Ark in the Park management committee), we would like to give you some background on the events of this tumultuous year, especially as they have affected volunteers.

Most importantly you should know that all the major players in the management of the Waitākere Ranges and the response to the kauri dieback crisis are united in supporting the on-going activities of Ark in the Park, and the work it is doing in restoring both the bird life and plant life of the region.

As most of you know, ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ have been developed so that we can continue with our conservation activities while minimising any additional burden on the kauri forest. These procedures have been hammered out at many top-level meetings over this past year between various Council people, kauri dieback advisors and, on behalf of the Ark, our advocates Gillian Wadams and Laurence Bechet.

Through all this time Gillian and Laurence have continued to run the Ark whilst communicating and including these extra protocols for kauri dieback, but the closure of the Ark during a baiting round and the continuing changes working towards a better SOP have impacted on baiting and it is a testament to everyone’s perseverance and belief, that support continues for what remains the largest and most important conservation area in the Waitākere Ranges.

The result of the discussions to date has been changes to the ‘SOP’s that match the growing understanding of the scope of the problem and the best ways to respond.

In addition to the human and pig impact of foot traffic, there is growing recognition that terrain and hydrological influences are significant for the spread of the pathogen. The Ark area is to be split up into zones of operation, based on the particular environmental conditions in that zone. Conservation work within any of these areas will involve the same protocols as were proactively established years ago by the Ark: scrubbing and spraying boots at the beginning and end of bait or trap lines, at the junction of tracks, and at stream crossings. We are not to work off track in more than one zone per day and at boundary junctions on tracks boots and gear must be thoroughly cleaned.

At the conclusion of volunteer activities all gear and footwear is removed, contained and transported back to the Ark volunteer base for final complete cleaning. This ensures Ark ‘border control’ prevents any soil movement away from site.

We all hope that the boosts to funding for dieback research announced recently bear results soon. In the meanwhile, the best chance for continued regeneration of the forest via the tiny kauri seedlings and saplings, as well as the kiekie flowers and parataniwha shoots and all the verdancy of the forest you will see throughout the Ark, is that you will continue to protect them from the rats and possums that love them too.

If you have any questions, don’t forget that you elected us to represent you. Get in touch and we will get you answers.

Karen Colgan

Ken Harrop

Oliver Glampe

Kokako Census:

The kōkako count has now concluded for the year and in the final week the team's persistence in the N block paid off with another 2 translocated birds and another Ark chick from a previous year being identified. Overall there were 13 pairs and 7 singles found this year.

It will soon be time for the great nest searching to begin!

Tally:Confirmed translocated birds: 16

Frances & Zelah, Aumangea & Thurley, Karen, Pierre, Ataahua, Maurice, Totara, Puke, Gordon, Ranginui, Kiwitea, Tahi Kaha. New this week: Manuka and Papari.

AiP Progeny: 6Putahi, Indigo, Kapua, Nina, WM-GY, Cloud.

Unbanded Birds (Adults/Sub-adults/Unknown):

• Adults: 17 to 19

• Sub-adults: 2

Kōkako nesting begins!

Kōkako Zelah watches on while her chick was banded on the 16th November

Photo Jacqui Geux

The great nest search continues!

We now have five active nests and another pair looking like they are preparing to nest. The nesting pairs are:

Francis and Zelah

Ataahua and Kapua: a bit of mystery surrounds this nest... a chick was banded but hasn’t been seen recently.

Gordon and Kiwitea

Many of you will remember the long standing kōkako couple Maurice and Kowhai who have fledged many chicks together over the years. This year there has been no sign of Karen but Maurice has a nest with his new unbanded partner.

Lastly, Thurley and Aumangea are brooding three eggs!

Thanks to the the team of nest watchers and trap checkers who are giving these nests extra protection and keeping an eye on the chicks so we know when the right time to band them is.

Kōkako feasting on rewarewa

Photo Jacqui Geux

Also, Jacqui has made another great video of the kōkako pair Francis & Zelah feeding and preening, which you can find on YouTube here:

Right now in the Ark...

Rodent baiting:

Autumn baiting is now well underway, and at this point it has been decided to switch from smart baiting to full replacement. The reason for this is that a mast season is very likely, and full baiting increases the chance of effective/attractive bait persisting through the winter.

Robin Monitoring:


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!

Rodent Monitoring:

Thanks to those of you who helped with rat monitoring. The April results are now in!

Rat monitoring inside the Ark: 19% (last monitoring in February gave a result of 6.4%)

Rat monitoring outside the Ark: 90% (last monitoring in February gave a result of 65%)

The rat presence outside the Ark is very high at the moment and we can hope that the double bagging at the periphery is helping to limit the rat re-invasion.

Meanwhile, the Stoaters continue to tramp around their circuits, with 86 stoats, 17 weasels, 1 ferret, 37 hedgehogs, and 359 ratscaught in the year ending 30 June 2018.

Then there's the teams attacking weeds, navigators extending lines to fill in gaps..

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