What has WekaWatch been doing in the last month

What has WekaWatch been doing in the last month

Watching and listening

There are two pairs of weka in Te Papa Road and almost certainly a chick, one fleeting sighting. The continuing rain means the birds do not need to come to gardens for water as often and the natural food supply is abundant in the damp leaf litter. We get news from the rest of the coast road, and residents give us reliable reports of weka at Waiti Bay and behind Tawhitokino Beach. Then weka seem to be back at Orere Point (3 reports) and one sighting of a weka crossing the road well south of Orere.  So please do keep all reports coming; we like to know what is going on! Post on our Facebook page or contact us through our website.
Our committee were very interested to note that in contrast to the many weka, there are now no Californian quail in Te Papa Road – where have they gone?

Trapping

Our assault on the predators continues. As well as rats galore – 72 in the last month – we have also caught 2 weasels. Small, mean, and vicious, the weka
habitat is better off without them.

Painting

Further weka for our weka flock are available. Undercoated weka are available at the garage for $10 each.
Beautifully and uniquely painted weka ready to install are $25. They can be viewed by texting 027 2925175 and arranging a time to select one (or more!).
They will also be available at a WekaWatch market stall once the Saturday morning weather improves.

Experimenting

Once a trap has caught and killed one predator how long has that trap not been ready to catch another pest?
And what do we know about the ages of the mustelids we catch?
We reluctantly carried out a test to see how long it took a dead rat to go from fresh to maggoty to dehydrated!!!
We now know that most rats have been in a trap for at least 3 weeks before they are cleared.
Even more reluctantly we are retrieving all mustelid heads (or whole bodies) to double
bag and seal tightly in a box in the freezer for further study (by Tony our weka man!).
This is real citizen science done with thick gloves and breathing on hold!

Meeting

Our keen committee meets regularly to share news and observations plus plan for the
future. We have a vacancy if there is someone out there who would like to support our
efforts to improve the natural environment for all wildlife in Kawakawa Bay.

Thanking

Thank you to OUR Community Association for their very generous grant to cover the
cost of 400 more baits for our traps. This is sufficient bait for another 3 months of
predator control in the weka area. Yippee!!
Thank you also to Auckland Transport for 2 more weka warning signs. It
took 15 months but they are now there for all to see.

Hedgehogs: recent evidence of their impacts on native fauna

Hedgehogs: recent evidence of their impacts on native fauna

It seems the more we look, the more we find when it comes to the impacts of invasive pests. European hedgehogs are no exception. Once thought to provide a service by preying on garden pests such as slugs and snails, hedgehogs are now known to also prey on a wide variety of native species, including invertebrates, lizards, and the eggs and chicks of a range of native birds. We have learnt this by sorting through the remains of prey in their droppings and stomachs.

For example, 21% of hedgehog guts (each reflecting a single night’s feeding) from Macraes Flat, north Otago, contained native skink remains; a single hedgehog dropping from near Alexandra contained 10 McCann’s skink feet; and two separate studies have shown that female hedgehogs are three times more likely than males to have eaten native lizards. Rare native invertebrates are also eaten widely, and a single hedgehog gut from the central South Island was found to contain 283 wētā legs!

To read the full article from Predator Free NZ click here

Hedgehogs: recent evidence of their impacts on native fauna

Hedgehogs: recent evidence of their impacts on native fauna

It seems the more we look, the more we find when it comes to the impacts of invasive pests. European hedgehogs are no exception. Once thought to provide a service by preying on garden pests such as slugs and snails, hedgehogs are now known to also prey on a wide variety of native species, including invertebrates, lizards, and the eggs and chicks of a range of native birds. We have learnt this by sorting through the remains of prey in their droppings and stomachs.

For example, 21% of hedgehog guts (each reflecting a single night’s feeding) from Macraes Flat, north Otago, contained native skink remains; a single hedgehog dropping from near Alexandra contained 10 McCann’s skink feet; and two separate studies have shown that female hedgehogs are three times more likely than males to have eaten native lizards. Rare native invertebrates are also eaten widely, and a single hedgehog gut from the central South Island was found to contain 283 wētā legs!

Diet composition is one thing, but the real impacts on native species are often more difficult to measure. Research over the past 15 years has begun to clarify the picture.

For more information read the full article from Predator Free NZ 

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

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.

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.

Working to keep Weka Safe

Working to keep Weka Safe

The weka and ratphoto shows a weka eating a dead rat. This shows how important it is to use the correct poison to eradicate rats and mice and may be a contributing factor in the decline in bird numbers .We also have evidence of a weka feeding its chicks from a dead rat .
To avoid “Secondary Kill” the bait to use is called RACUMIN (this contains the active agent COUMATETRALYL) which removes the possibility of secondary poisoning to pets and wildlife including weka. Follow the directions on the packet to fix the sachet to a tree with a nail, or clip to a heavy object so the rat cannot take it away.

Racumin is available at most hardware stores such as Mitre 10 or you can purchase it at cost from WekaWatch (phone 2922512)

Remember that dogs are a threat to the survival of weka and it would be appreciated if owners could keep this in mind when walking their dog .

Weka Counts 2016

Weka Counts 2016

Hi there weka counters

Weka

You will all be aware of our concerns for the sudden drop in weka numbers in the winter of 2015.

To get a good idea of where the weka population stands in autumn 2016 we need a really good turn out of counters this year.

 

The dates set for the 2016 annual weka count are the four Saturdays in April.  Please note the dates in your diaries and try to get to at least one.

It is really important to send us an email to let us know you want to take part so we can pair you with an experienced counter and also answer any queries you may have.

We meet at the Kawakawa Bay dairy for initial briefing and allocation of count sites.

 

Saturday 2nd April     Meet at 5.30            Sun set is at 7.12

Saturday 9th April     Meet at 4.15            Sun set is at 6.00

Saturday 16th April    Meet at 4.05            Sun set is at 5 50

Saturday 23rd April    Meet at 4.00            Sunset is at 5 45

 

The counts are for an hour and a half  finishing one hour after sunset.

 

Saturday 16th is the day of the 8th AGM of WekaWatch Kawakawa Bay (at 2.00)  This count will be followed by our annual pot luck dinner.

 

Remember a reasonable standard of fitness is required for all but one site.

 

What to bring   Bring warm clothes and a back pack, something to sit on, at least one torch, (the LED headlamps are popular) a charged cell phone if you have one, a watch/clock, a pencil, insect repellent (some sites are in bush and there are mosquitoes.  A few nets are available but repellent is still helpful), snacks and drinks if you need them.   You will be provided with a small safety kit on the day.

Weather check If the weather looks doubtful, watch for an email on the day, our Face book page perhaps or phone 2922 512 or 2922 221 on the afternoon for our decision.

 

Ian Southey

Count organiser

Aroma Towers

Aroma Towers

Bottle tops and more bottle tops!

We have had a wonderful response to our request for milk bottle tops from the residents of Kawakawa Bay and now have enough to last us at least 2 years!

We have our first Aroma Towers out in use.

After some research into importing 2xx6WBrUSYim550sTJpRDaj-x8mL9j6Diu8BAKK-Ru4stainless steel tubing from the UK at $50 a metre (very expensive!) and trying to drill holes in plastic waste pipe (very time consuming!), we discovered hair rollers at 5 or 6 for $2 (very cheap!)

These are effective and we now have Aroma towers out in about 25 of our traps.

More will go out in the traps as the time for checking other trap lines comes up.

Babies at the Bay!

Weka around Kawakawa Bay have been very, very quiet lately…

But THANK GOODNESS!

We have had this awesome news from Debbie & Steve who live further along Coast Rd. They have reported weka chicks and here is evidence.
“The first three photos are of Whitey and Suzy’s first chick (Tane) for this year, now in his adolescence.
The last two are of the three new chicks.
They have also seen Whitey and Suzy mating again already so maybe some more to come yet.”
Thanks guys. Awesome news.

Camera trap

Camera trap

Weka sightings have been way down of late and the WekaWatch committee decided to trial a camera to record what may be causing the problem. Recently  a new trap was set up at the junction of 5 tracks. Fresh rabbit was used as bait and the little cage was pegged down with wire to avoid it being knocked over by stock.  The camera was set on video. Volunteers will retrieve the recordings as often as possible.

trapcamera

Camera trap

Camera trap

Weka sightings have been way down of late and the WekaWatch committee decided to trial a camera to record what may be causing the problem. Recently  a new trap was set up at the junction of 5 tracks. Fresh rabbit was used as bait and the little cage was pegged down with wire to avoid it being knocked over by stock.  The camera was set on video. Volunteers will retrieve the recordings as often as possible.

trapcamera