September 2017 Spring time thoughts

September 2017 Spring time thoughts

 Spring is here.

There has been a change in the behaviour of some of the weka pairs; not appreaing as often and not being seen together. Tipene and Sheila have been one pair like this. This weekend Sheila was seen taking small pieces of cheese up into the bush rather than scoffing them on the spot. This is what we call ‘carrying’ and it means that she and her mate have small chicks to feed. Cheese is an energy dense food so is a prized find.

An update on the Good Nature automatic resetting traps.

Last month when we wrote about our trial of these traps we said: It is early days and at time of writing we have not had any success though we have photos of possums taking a keen interest in them. Our trial possum trap has now been installed and operational for 6 weeks but don’t hold your breaths! The camera that takes a photo of whatever approaches the trap has yeilded some interesting data. 43 photos in total, and 17 of them are of passing possums. But none of these 17 possums was caught by the Good Nature trap. In the meantime the Timms trap set on a neighbouring tree has caught 2 possums one of them a whopper weighing over 3 kg! (And 6 male possums have been caught in that Timms trap since the begining of June.) To test the new trap further we have to eliminate some variables. We should fix the two different possum traps side by side on the same tree and use the same lure/bait in each and see what happens. An even more interesting result is that of the 43 photos 23 (more than 50%) are of domestic cats and the other 3 are of goats. No weka have been ‘caught’ by the camera in this time.

Remember WekaWatch has a Timms trap to lend to residents bothered by possums. We will help you to set it up to ensure it is weka safe. Contact us by email wekawatchkbc@gmail.com

Why are we Weka Watchers?

If you asked any of us why we volunteered to be weka watchers, each of us could give you a different answer. Is it because we are enchanted by these rare and fascinating birds that have walked into our gardens and our lives? Or is it to meet new people, to feel useful, to get fit by walking the trap lines? To help reverse the damage people have done to the land and its native fauna, to take part in the Predator Free New Zealand project in a small way, to make a difference to the world, to do something! WekaWatch has plenty of tasks for volunteers other than trapping and counting and there could be one for you. We have jobs for people with computer skills, cooking skills to feed the counters, marketing and writing skills and even artistic skills as we try to fill more blank walls with weka art.

Want to be involved? We can find a role for you! Just get in touch!

Traps and more traps!

Traps and more traps!

We have to accept that, if we are to save endangered native fauna, we have to get rid of the animals that can harm them. WekaWatch targets the worst weka predators, stoats, ferrets and weasels and also rats and hedgehogs.    Safe baits became very expensive so we now use only traps.

Timms traps.

Most people are familiar with the bright yellow trap in the photo below. Timms traps are the most effective traps for possums but they are labour intensive as they must to be cleared after each capture.
In the weka area they need to be set well off the ground to ensure weka do not poke their heads inside them.

Victor Professional rat traps.

The best snap rat trap we have found. The bait goes on a bright yellowtreadle so there is a visual lure as well as the smell. Extra strong springs make these sure killers.

DOC traps.

These are the most humane traps available;

we have about 170 of them on our long trap lines
encased in wooden boxes. The only traps in our arsenal that will take stoats and ferrets, they need to be checked
monthly at least.

Good Nature automatic resetting traps.

This possum still has to climb the tree!

There is a lot of publicity about these recently
developed traps and we are often asked why
we are not using them.
We’ve had mixed reports on their effectiveness
and do not want to invest in them until they are
proven as they cost 5 times as much as a
Timms trap! They have a gas driven pin that
instantly kills the predator and then retracts
automatically so the trap is ready for the next
victim.
We have been loaned two of these and have set them up with a trail camera to spy on them. It is early days and at time of writing we have not had any success though we have photos of possums taking a keen interest in them.

New trappers always welcome!

If you would like to be part of the WekaWatch trapping team do let us know! There is plenty of work for all!

Rats and possums are everywhere!

Want to launch a predator war on your own property?
Talk to us if you would like help with traps or poisons.

WekaWatch encourages the use of Racumin, a rat bait that has no secondary kill for pets or wildlife. Contact us for Racumin – $11 a box.

 

Remember WekaWatch has a Timms trap to lend to residents bothered by a possum. We will help with
setting it up to ensure it is weka safe.
Either phone 2922 512 or email wekawatch@paradise.net.nz

Newsletter July 2017

Newsletter July 2017

Weather
Four major weather events between mid-February and late April have influenced our work more than
anything else over recent months.
Rain, rain and more rain in March and April caused severe slips on the Coast Road closing access
to our two longest trap lines and also to five of our 11 count sites. The road is still closed to all but
residential traffic and it seems it will be for another 6 to 9 months. There were also numerous slips
on the back country after the March storm; this was compounded by the severe rain event in April so
that before the counters went out all routes to the count sites had to be checked for safe access.

Franklin Local Board grant.
We heard in January that our local board had awarded WekaWatch almost $900. This covered half the cost of three Moultrie motion sensitive infra red trail cameras and also our highly visible safety vests. The vests are not only for safety but also mean farmers and land owners know exactly where our volunteers
are.   

2017 weka counts.
The counts which in normal years are completed in just 3 nights dragged out over 6 because of difficult access to the sites. Our counters were wonderful; some of them walked more than an hour to reach a remote site and then an hour in the dark to return. After all the effort it was encouraging to find that weka numbers had increased somewhat from last year. In 2016 the numbers had plunged to an all time low of 20, but this year the total was 29 including 9 pairs. This is still far short of our peak totals a few years ago of more than 130 weka calling over the count period.
Our counters looked magnificent in their vests and they made it easy for them to locate one another
by torch light.

The cameras

Jonah at Water Corner

A possum at Five Crossroads

With our three new cameras and two privately owned ones we now have 5 locations in the weka habitat behind Te Papa Road being monitored 24/7. We have a wealth of data already. We are able to identify many weka by their colour bands by day and can often see if a bird is banded and if we know which leg has the metal band which sex it is by night. We have identified up to 9 different well fed domestic cats roaming the bush. Cats are never vegetarian but it is unlikely that any of these are a threat to the weka. We have recorded a huge number of different bird species both native and introduced and plenty of possums, rats, hedgehogs and mice. We have seen a mob of goats walk by and a small wild pig; this is a sign there is work to do on the boundary fencing.

The most disturbing photo was one in March of a ferret. We upped our trapping efforts putting lots of
fresh rabbit out in the closest DOC traps but were unsuccessful.

Trapping
As well as the usual reports of predators and by-catch, in 2017 the trappers’ sheets have come back
this year with comments like ‘mud’ and ‘washed away’ (this trap was found on the beach) and ‘lost in
flood’ (still not found – under a slip?). But the catches so far in 2017 have been impressive even
when some lines were walked less often, that weather again.
185 rats, 29 hedgehogs, 3 stoats and 4 weasels.
We have been reluctant to invest in the much talked about but expensive Good Nature traps without
proof that they are truly reliable in our situation. Some users have had great success, others very
little. We have been loaned two of these traps, one for rats/stoats and one for possums. We have
one of our cameras focused on the two traps and we wait impatiently for some definitive results.

Andrew and John check a DOC200

A visit from our local member of parliament 
In February Andrew Bayly, National MP for Hunua visited us and spent a morning on a trap line with John. He is one of the greener blue MPs and took a keen interest in our work.
His visit brought us wider publicity through the local paper and also on Andrew’s Facebook page.

 

 

 

Banded weka
RIP Cheeky Charlie

Sadly on the morning of Mothers’ Day we lost Charlie, one of our oldest male weka. His still warm body was found beside the road, with a compound fracture of a leg and some severe internal injuries. This was clearly road kill and illustrates how important it is always to take care when driving along the Coast Road or in Te Papa Road where there are often weka near the road. Charlie was one of our longest lived breeding weka. Banded in June 2014 as a sub-adultweighing 960 grams he was frequently seen around the Te Papa Road area. The day before his death he was seen carrying nesting material; he was a very important breeding bird. His unbanded female partner may take some time to find a new mate. At autopsy Charlie weighed 1280 grams; he was not shy so was well fed.
Tony Beauchamp has managed only one visit this year but in terms of weka banding it was a great
success. A pair of birds in Te Papa Road – Kermit (he has 2 green bands) and Roxy – and a pair
round at 103 Coast Road plus an extra female. We will watch these new recruits to the group of
identifiable weka with interest.

2017 subscriptions
Thank you to so many of you who sent in a subscription and in a number of cases a generous
donation as well. We do appreciate the fantastic support we get from so many of you.

Committee news
Huge thanks are due to Ian Southey who has managed our counts every year since the first one in
2005. He has now handed this important task over to the committee.
Treasurer Phil and Nova Coory also retired from the committee at the AGM. They no longer live in
the Bay and it was difficult for Phil to continue as treasurer.
So we are delighted to welcome Nadine Burgess, an enthusiastic new Te Papa Road resident, as
treasurer, and Lindsey Britton, a committed conservation advocate from Ness Valley, to join us on
the committee.

Your committee hopes you have enjoyed this short update on the happenings at Kawakawa Bay!

Conservation land belongs to all of us. Now and in the future.

Conservation land belongs to all of us. Now and in the future.

But the Government has publicly stated that it may now change the law to get around the Supreme Court ruling and won’t listen to New Zealander’s like you.   It intends to make changes to the Conservation Act that could well and truly sell nature down the river. With your help we will fight this every step of the way – nature is not for sale and never will be.

Look what we can do when we work together. Thanks to your support we took the fight for nature to the highest court in the land.  And we won.

But with the Government’s proposed disregard for the Supreme Court’s ruling I need to urgently ask for your help as we continue the fight. Because our rivers and forests are still in serious trouble.

We need an army of people like you to tell the Government this stops now. Help us get this video on national television on Sunday and for the next two weeks so we can reach a wider audience to ensure nature’s voice is heard.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f41NPkEJNTw

We demand the Government respects the Supreme Court’s decision, the wishes of New Zealander’s and the integrity of our specially protected conservation lands.  Any attempt they make to change the law will be met with the same determination from Forest & Bird as the Minister of Conservation’s illegal land-swap.

We are putting our first ever ad on national television because what is at stake is so important.  Please donate today and help us get this live so nature’s voice is heard far and wide www.forestandbird.org.nz/defendnature.

Thank you for your time and assistance,

Kevin Hague
Chief Executive, Forest & Bird

PS.  Nature is not for sale. Please donate and share this message today.

June – a great month for trappers (but a bad month if you were a rat!)J

June – a great month for trappers (but a bad month if you were a rat!)J

Our enthusiastic trappers had a productive month in June.

The two long trap lines on the Tawhitokino farm were walked and 92 traps were cleared, some of them twice.

And the results? 70 rats, 9 hedgehogs, and one stoat.

Only 2 possums have been taken in the Te Papa Road area this month, quite a low number for 30 days.

But the possum total for 2017 is now 34! 

A fresh stoat – very dead though.

We are really targeting stoats and ferrets.

The greatest predator threat to adult weka are the larger mustelids – stoats and ferrets.

Ship rats have very long tails.

Rats, hedgehogs and weasels are a by-catch but we are still glad to get them out of the ecosystem.

Rats and hedgehogs do take weka eggs – their nests are on the ground of course as weka cannot fly! They also compete with weka for the limited food supply.

Possums, as well as predating weka eggs and chicks, also damage the weka habitat. More possums feeding up above mean fewer leaves from the canopy will fall later as leaf litter. It is the invertebrates in the litter on the forest floor that supply most of a weka’s food. The leaf litter acts as a mulch – the drier the soil, the harder it gets meaning fewer worms etc which are a great protein source for all birds.

2017 weka counts

Finally after struggling with abominable weather and severe damage to the routes into our count

sites, the 2017 weka count was completed in mid-May. This is much later than usual so the final

numbers are probably not directly comparable to earlier years.

In 2016 the weka population was at an all time low and we are encouraged that the numbers this

year show a slight increase.

We cannot relax our protection measures. We must all take care on the roads, keep dogs under

control and use safe pest control measures, and our volunteers need to keep checking our predator

traps.

RIP Cheeky Charlie

RIP Cheeky Charlie

Sadly we lost Charlie, one of our oldest male weka, on the morning of Mothers’ Day. His still warm body was found beside the road, with a compound fracture of a leg and some severe internal injuries.

This was clearly road kill and illustrates how important it is for us all always to take care when driving along the Coast Road or in Te Papa Road where there are often weka near the road.

Charlie was one of our longest lived breeding weka. Banded in June 2014 as a sub-adult weighing 960 grams, he has been seen around the Te Papa Road area in the years since. The day before his death he was seen carrying nesting material; he was a very important breeding bird. His unbanded female partner may take some time to find a new mate. At autopsy Charlie weighed 1280 grams; he was well fed and popular.

 

Possums and weka

Possums and weka

Is this possum heading for a trap?

Bad news for the possums but good news for the weka in the Te Papa Road area! Possums frequently trip our motion sensitive cameras so we know they are always there in our valley. In April John trapped 14 of them!

Thank you Barbara and Alan for the free feijoas – the possums loved them! This gives us a grand total of 352 of these pests trapped since 2005.

 

We all know that possums are a ‘bad thing’. President Trump might even call them ‘horrible’! But are they a ‘bad thing’ for our weka? Yes, they are! Possums compete with weka for food; they both love native fruits and invertebrates like worms, insects and slugs. Possums will take eggs from a weka nest. Possums cause degradation of the forest habitat, not just the canopy but also the leaf litter layer where weka love to forage for food. This damage is detrimental to all our native wildlife not just weka.

It is clear that we need to try to control possum numbers but we have to take great care how we do this to keep our endangered weka safe. Most people set a Timms trap on the ground right where a curious omnivorous weka will find it and put its sticky beak right into it! WekaWatch puts all their Timms traps at least a metre up a tree, preferably higher. It works!

WekaWatch has a couple of Timms traps to lend to Kawakawa Bay residents who might have a pesky possum living in their garden. We can deliver one and assist you with correct placement and baiting of the trap. Contact us! If using possum poisons we also need to be weka aware. Anticoagulant poisons (like the rat baits you can find in any supermarket) or toxins like cyanide are lethal for weka and other birds.

 

WekaWatch encourages the use of Racumin, a rat bait that has no secondary kill.

Possums and weka

Possums and weka

Bad news for the possums but good news for the weka in the Te Papa Road area! Possums frequently trip our motion sensitive cameras so we know they are always there in our valley. In April John trapped 14 of them!

Is this possum heading for a trap?

Thank you Barbara and Alan for the free feijoas – the possums loved them! This gives us a grand total of 352 of these pests trapped since 2005. We all know that possums are a ‘bad thing’. President Trump might even call them ‘horrible’! But are they a ‘bad thing’ for our weka? Yes, they are! Possums compete with weka for food; they both love native fruits and invertebrates like worms, insects and slugs. Possums will take eggs from a weka nest. Possums cause degradation of the forest habitat, not just the canopy but also the leaf litter layer where weka love to forage for food. This damage is detrimental to all our native wildlife not just weka.

It is clear that we need to try to control possum numbers but we have to take great care how we do this to keep our endangered weka safe. Most people set a Timms trap on the ground right where a curious omnivorous weka will find it and put its sticky beak right into it! WekaWatch puts all their Timms traps at least a metre up a tree, preferably higher. It works!

If using possum poisons we also need to be weka aware. Anticoagulant poisons (like the rat baits you can find in any supermarket) or toxins like cyanide are lethal for weka and other birds.

WekaWatch encourages the use of Racumin, a rat bait that has no secondary kill.

2017 counts

2017 counts

The count for the night 8th April was cancelled.
5 count sites are totally inaccessible as the Coast Road is closed to pedestrians as well as vehicles from about 700 metres beyond Te Papa Road.  Here is what the roading team are trying to deal with. 
The fact that residents along there have been told their power is likely to be off for another 2 days tells us that Vector are not expecting to get through any time soon.
The AGM will still go ahead on April 22nd.  2.00 in the Kawakawa Bay Hall.  The next count is scheduled to take place after that – meeting at 4.00 at the mural at Whitford Point.  If you are a WekaWatch member please try to attend the meeting – we need a quorum to run it of course.
By then we will know whether we can access the count sites at the end of Coast Road and the state of the farm land we cross to get to the other sites.  We will advise you all before that date whether conditions are OK for a partial count or whether we will set a series of dates later in the year when things are a bit more normal.
We wish things were not this way.  Thank you for your interest, patience and understanding!
Slips and slides!

Slips and slides!

Once again the Clevedon Kawakawa Bay area is in the weather news.  From the 2nd – 4th April 2017 we had about 150 mm – 6” or half a school ruler.  Anyway you look at it that is a lot of rain and it is still raining!
We are watching the situation closely.
As of now the Coast Road from Te Papa Road to the end is closed by slips down onto the road, and by the road slipping down into the sea.   This road gives us access to half our sites – one of these we have already written off as inaccessible after the storm a month ago.  We do not know what the road through the Tawhitokino farm will be like.  There was significant damage a month ago, now cleared.
Access to the high sites across the Deery & Couldrey farms may also be in doubt if further slipping occurs.  We need to check this when the rain ceases.
Volunteer safety is important to us – and to you too!
April 2017

April 2017

WekaWatch is on ferret alert!

To our dismay and concern in the middle of March one of our trail cameras caught a ferret in the heart of weka territory. 

Ferrets along with unleashed dogs are the greatest threat to the endangered weka.

They are highly mobile predators with a large home range of about 100 hectares.

A male’s range is often greater than this.

Traps in the immediate area have been baited with fresh rabbit, the recommended lure and are being checked frequently.

Ferrets were introduced to New Zealand in the late 1870s to control rabbits. They are opportunistic scavengers and will prey on anything that looks like a meal especially if rabbit numbers are low. The anti-fur movement led to the closure of fitch farms. Some fitch farmers when they closed their operation just opened the cages and released the ferrets into the wild! Our native wild life is still paying the price.

If you see a ferret anywhere anytime please let WekaWatch know.

Email wekawatch@paradise.net.nz or phone 2922 512 or 2922 221. Please!

2017 weka counts severely curtailed!

 The recent adverse weather has meant a huge rethink of our annual counts. They were scheduled to take place on three Saturdays in April. We have 11 core count sites that have been checked 3 times a year for 7 or more years and we really want the data from these same sites in 2017. However access to 5 of the sites is from the farm at the end of Kawakawa Bay Coast Road and 4 others are high on the hills at the back of the Couldrey and Deery farms. Access across the farms to all the count sites had been checked after the March rain and now someone has to do it all again. Whether those sites at the end of Coast Road can be done at all this year is debatable.

Trail camera photo of the month – a magnificent peacock walks by.

9th Annual General Meeting

The AGM is on 22nd April at 2.00 in the hall supper room. All welcome!

Afternoon tea provided!

We still have a vacancy on our committee.

We would love to have you join us.

March Newsletter

March Newsletter

February has been a busy month for WekaWatch and for the weka.

The highlight was welcoming Andrew Bayly, MP for our electorate Hunua, to the Bay. He spent a morning on a trap line with John and Steve and was truly impressed by the work we are doing.

You can see more photos of his visit on his Facebook page.

 

Tipene

While having coffee before he headed off for his next appointment Tipene came out to greet him.

 

 

 

The weka also seem to be doing well. We still have at least 4 active pairs in the Te Papa Road valley, perhaps 5. The next valley to the east is Whitey and Tui’s patch and over this breeding season they have raised 7 young. There are reports of breeding further to the east too so while we humans complain that this has been a lousy summer it seems to have suited the birds.

 

Situation vacant.

We are coming up to autumn and that means not only our annual weka count but also our AGM. We have a couple of vacancies on the committee, not for trappers or counters but for people who might have a couple of hours a month to help with some admin tasks. Our meetings are short and infrequent! And you do not have to know anything about weka! If you feel you could help us in this way please get in touch.

 

Thank you!

We want to acknowledge the significant support for our work from local businesses and Auckland Council. Thank you to Hunting and Fishing Botany for sourcing and supplying our trail cameras; Safeworx Papakura for supplying our hi viz vests and organising the printing; Resene Takanini for supplying our test pots of paint for the weka flock; JB Hi Fi Botany for the discount on the SD cards for the cameras. Then there is the support we receive from Auckland Council – Franklin Local Board for the generous grant that partly paid for the cameras and the vests, Auckland Council Biodiversity for baits and traps, Auckland Council Biosecurity for advice and support, Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust for so much help with the weka flock.

That is quite a list and we are so grateful to them all. Without them and their help our job would be so much harder.

 

If you want to have a weka on your own fence or gate please let us know. You can paint your own ($5) but we also have some ready painted or we will even try to paint one in a colour scheme of your choice! Those ones cost a little more. All funds go to help us save our weka.

Contact us at www.wekawatch.co.nz or phone 2922 512 or 2922 221

For more photos of our weka and lots of other things go to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/wekawatch.co.nz

Albino West Coast Weka

Albino West Coast Weka

Annemaree in Karamea contacted us at WekaWatch with photos of a friendly weka that is turning white.  Here is her story…

Here on the West Coast of the south island we are lucky to have plenty of these cheeky birds around – not a day goes by without seeing at least several!  With the exceptionally mild winter we had – we even had families of young ones during June and July.    But one in particular has been of interest.  It was one of this year’s chicks, and started off ‘normal’ with brown and black  feathers and dark beak and legs, then one day it looked like it might have had something on its head – on closer inspection it appeared to have a few white feathers on its head – well the photos say the rest .

 Its original tail feathers are all gone, and new tail appears to be growing back completely white – “Google” tells me it’s a lack of melanin and not uncommon in birds – but it’s not every day you see an almost white weka and I thought  you might be interested.  Guessing from the way it’s changing – I wouldn’t be surprised if he/she ends up totally white. 

We sent the photos to our DOC advisor Tony Beauchamp whose response is…

White feathers are seen on weka associated with injury of the follicles (after the feathers and underlying structures are damaged?) The white feathers appears to be appearing on head which is moulted at about 120 days and the tail (which should not be replacing unless the feathers have been pulled out in scraps). They may revert to normal colour in a following moult.

[In this bird] the soft parts (bill and legs) are all lacking colour as well.

Weka on the South Island west coast appear to throw white weka every 5 years of so.  The genetics behind that has not been investigated       

Tony Beauchamp DOC

New Vests for Volunteers

New Vests for Volunteers

WekaWatch volunteers will be highly visible as they go about their work from now on. Thanks to our grant from the Franklin Local Board and amazing help from Safeworx Papakura we now have these amazing vests for our trappers, counters and others.

Here they are being used for the very first time as two volunteers head off for trap line work.

Newsletter January 2017

Newsletter January 2017

Welcome to another edition of the WekaWatch newsletter.

screenshot-2017-01-07-20-31-13

Sheila and her chick

We want to bring you up to date on some of the things that have happened since the middle of last year. Weka numbers seem to be growing – cautious optimism is called for In mid-2015 the number of weka in Te Papa Road and the neighbouring valley dropped dramatically over just a few short weeks. The only reason that we could come up with was a predator event – stoats? Ferrets? A stray dog? Our trap lines did not show any increase in mustelid catches; these have never been high and continue to be low. This drop in numbers was still evident in the very low autumn count results in 2016. Only 20 birds were heard over the whole monitored area (11 count sites). Now for reasons which we wish we could understand, the number of weka in the area most closely watched – the first two valleys east of the boat ramp (including Te Papa Road) has moved slowly and steadily upwards. Because of their bands we can identify 5 pairs in the area, at least three of which have successfully raised chicks in the past few months. As of early January, we have Fred and Edna, Charlie and Charlotte, Whitey and Tui, Tipene (Whitey’s son from last year) and Sheila, and Scruffy with his elusive unbanded partner. Tipene’s brother, Jonah is also in Te Papa Road looking as though he has been in some male on male fighting, perhaps trying to move in on Charlotte as Charlie also bears the signs of some fighting. And one of Whitey and Tui’s recent juveniles, The Colonel (so called as his bands are MYY and he looks like a player in Cluedo) seems to be pairing off with a female. Tony Beauchamp has made several visits and despite some banding success there is always one weka that hides while he is here and reappears the next day flaunting its unbanded status!

This increase in numbers is no reason to relax our concern for the birds and their interaction with the residents and visitors to Kawakawa Bay, nor our trapping programme. We will see if this increase is evident throughout the core area only after the 2017 autumn counts – which this year will be on Saturdays April 8th, 22nd and 29th. A good turnout of fit, experienced counters will help us find an answer.  Community relations One of the objects of WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay as stated in our rules is – To engage in . . .  programmes that promote . . .  public awareness of the need to protect endangered . .  . WEKA and . . . their habitats For almost 10 years we have put a weka story in the Bay Whispers every month with information about the birds and our work, but this of course only reaches those who read the publication. We have our notice board near the Kawakawa Bay Dairy but not everyone stops to read that either.

After attending the Community Association meeting mid 2016, we brainstormed ways in which we could make our weka more visible to everyone in the village, both residents and visitors, and some of our ideas are bearing fruit. Have you seen our magnificent mural on the toilet block at Whitford Point between the two main bays? p1080888Thanks to local artist Louis Rawnsley who carried out the project, to those who helped prepare the wall, to the Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust (MBCT) for the paint and brushes, and to Greg Lowe from Auckland Parks for putting the project to the Franklin Local Board to gain their approval. Once we had the go-ahead the work was completed within a week!

We have uplifted the idea of establishing a ‘flock’ of birds from Pukorokoro Miranda Naturalists’ Trust. Whereas they have a variety of shorebirds around their centre and appearing in unlikely spots all over the country, the WekaWatch flock is mono-species. We have an ever-growing flock of brightly painted cut-out weka that are appearing in gardens and on fences and letter box posts all around the bay. Thanks to MBCT again for the paint and for arranging for Robb from their Boomer Boys Men’s Shed to cut the shapes for us. So far most of the weka have been painted by the children in the Bay but we hope that grownups will paint their own or purchase one already painted.

We are asking for donations for these to cover the costs of the ply and even raise some funds for our other work.

kindergarten-weka-on-fence

The kindergarten children are very proud of their work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last 6 months there has been a steady capture of rats (90) and hedgehogs (14). 4 stoats, 1 possum (a highly unlikely capture in a DOC trap) and 1 mouse make up the total.

We have two trail cameras at strategic points in the bush in the Te Papa Road area. We are keen to know what is wandering around out there, especially if there predators that we are failing to catch. One camera has been operating non-stop since mid July and in all that time not one mustelid has been seen and only two rats. As well, we are gathering interesting data about where and when the weka wander (all night at times). screenshot-2017-01-07-20-54-15We also see neighbours’ cats (and grandchildren) and can watch kereru, tui, fantails and other birds making good use of the water that is in the camera’s view. One camera has a Timms trap within range. Seeing a possum screenshot-2017-01-07-20-57-55approach to within a metre of the trap then turning around and leaving it made us change to a half orange to trap the beast eventually. We would like to cover more areas with these cameras and have applied to the Franklin Local Board for funding to help us do this. It appears we have been successful and we hope to have three more cameras out before long.

Denise keeps our Facebook page up to date and we recommend that you visit us and please like and share us! We welcome your comments and posts. It is interesting to see how much further our message is reaching with comments and contributions from people from all around New Zealand and overseas who love weka as we do. Find us at https://www.facebook.com/wekawatch.co.nz  

In our last letter we asked for a new minutes secretary; and even better, we have an ‘old’ one. Welcome back to Barbara Strong who was our minutes secretary in the past and now finds she is able to take up the reins again. Thank you Barbara.

We really appreciate support from many of you who pay us a $20 subscription to keep our work going. Our financial year is a calendar year so 2017 subscriptions are now due. You can renew your membership on line; our bank account at the ASB Papakura is 12 3031 0137652 00 Please include your name so we know who is paying and the word ‘sub’ or ‘membership’. Alternatively you could post a cheque to WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay Inc C/- Kawakawa Bay Postal Centre Kawakawa Bay 2138.

Your committee hopes you have enjoyed this short update on the happenings at Kawakawa Bay! Rosemary Cotman – Chair, Phil Coory – Treasurer, Barbara Strong – Minutes Secretary, Trish Simmonds – publicity, Nova Coory – publicity, Ian Southey – count planning, Michelle Hollings – Orere liaison, Denise Moyle – Website, Facebook, John Cotman – trap line manager, Steve Huggard – notice board, photographer extraordinaire.

WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay Inc C/- Kawakawa Bay Postal Centre Kawakawa Bay 2138 wekawatch@paradise.net.nz www.wekawatch.co.nz Phone 09 2922 512

 

The things we see on a trail camera!

We were a bit disappointed that we were not getting all the information we hoped for with the Simmonds’ trail camera at ‘water corner’ on still photos, so yesterday John switched it to video mode.  Look what is on the card today – just 24 hours of action!
There were 31 x 10 second shots and among them these two.

Here we have two parents and then at the end a juvenile following them down to the water.

Unfortunately the latter is in infra red so we do not know which birds exactly but you can tell that the first bird in shot is the male with a metal band on the left leg and then the female.

weka family Jan 2017

 

One could say that 0994 might be soft porn – but it is weka not humans. In the next one, though in colour it has such a flurry of feathers that we do not know which birds those are either!  Certainly the female has a white band but what else?

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Resolving pesky weka behaviour

Resolving pesky weka behaviour

Brooke lives in the upper North Island where there is a very good population of our favourite bird. Up there though, the very nature of weka that endears itself so much to us, causes some irritating, pesky behaviours.

Brooke wrote… “Hiya I’m from Russell and, like you, love our environment and native wildlife but we have a weka issue where we live. They eat our growing tomatoes, pull out all our lettuces (and everything else in the garden) eat all our chicken food, kill our baby chicks, pull all our washing off the line and poo all over our deck. Anything I can do to deter them without harming them? Thanks.” images

Brooke’s issues are common where weka and humans live in close proximity. Similar issues arise with pukeko’s. There are some things you can do, if not to eliminate the issues entirely, at least to reduce them a bit. Here is what our Chairwoman has to say.

“I am not sure that after living with weka for 12 years I can answer all your queries but I will try. What follows is my personal opinion.

There is a real problem with weka. They are by nature curious and omnivorous so that interactions between weka and humans can sometimes be a problem. It is the things they do because it is in their nature that makes them the bad boys in the bush in some people’s eyes. You are so lucky in in Russell that your weka population seems to do so well. Here in Kawakawa Bay we have had some downs in numbers and work hard to keep predator numbers down and get the people living in the area aware of weka and their endangered status.

In your garden, you may need to have some sort of barrier fence – chicken wire or that orange mesh around the plot or put a mesh tunnel over the small plants. We do have one weka here at our place that tries to predate a small cactus we have in a pot but we are not planning to eat that! One solution to the pulling up the plants is to give up gardening altogether but clearly you do not want to do that!

Neighbours here with chickens do not let the chickens free range until after they have been fed. Once the cage is open the weka are allowed the leftovers. At least that way you do not have left over food attracting rats!images-1

As to your baby chickens – not sure what the answer is there. We have a good number of Californian quail in our valley and we have seen weka occasionally take a tiny baby. But if they did not take the babies probably local cats would do it. We never feed our weka close to the house so they rarely come on the deck. But a bucket of water over fresh poo seems to work for us. We always provide plenty of water, again as far from the house as possible, in containers big enough for one or more weka to bathe in it together. Would you like to continue this discussion with me through our email wekawatch@paradise.net.nz ? Good weka watching! Rosemary”

“Here is a bird full of good qualities and whose vices lean to virtue’s side.  Personal valour of a high order.  An undying thirst for knowledge…..An affection for its young that would face the Prince of Darkness in their defence. And above all, an intelligence apart from what we call instinct, far higher than I ever saw in a bird.”

Charlie Douglas, Explorer, c.1899

 

The first Weka Mural is finished

The first Weka Mural is finished

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In June 2016 the idea of a mural of weka painted on a wall of the main toilet block in Kawakawa Bay was tabled at the Kawakawa Bay Community Association meeting. It was met with approval.

With the blessing of the KBCA the idea was then put forward at the next Franklin County Board meeting. The Board members were keen on the idea and we were told to fill out an application for funding under the Manukau Beautification Trust.

p1080887A local artist, Louis Rawnsley (https://www.facebook.com/louisrawnsleyartist/) was asked if he would like to be involved. He was enthusiastic about the project.

Once WekaWatch was given the go ahead and the wall was scrubbed down, Louis finished the job in under a week, already for the summer holiday makers to see and enjoy! It looks stunning.