Below is the latest up-to-the minute (almost...) news from the island. You can also check out the latest monthly Ranger Report from Island Ranger Bernie Buhler by clicking here.
Bernie's Back, all right! Tidbits from February-March 2015
What a couple of months! Last month's Report failed to eventuate as I was hit by a virus that was finally diagnosed as probably glandular fever. This took me out for almost a month but thanks to mothering by my lovely parents, rest, great support from our Committee members and other friends I am now back to full strength and catching up on things that had to be put on the back burner.
Kiwi's fly the coop!
Two kiwi came off the island and went to Te Whara where the good folk of the Bream Head Trust are doing a great job of getting rid of pests, planting trees and restoring the whole area. The kiwi received blessing on the island from our Te Parawhau kaumatua, Fred Tito. Two days later they met their public at the Onerahi Yacht Club, visited the kids at Whangarei Heads School, and that evening were released at Bream Head. Hopefully the birds will live there for sixty years or so.
More Great Kiwi News!
Two beautiful new kiwi chicks hatched on the island! Sir Ed's (the happy kiwi father) transmitter showed his activity increase, he had finished incubating after over 80 days! Our happy DOC Kiwi Ranger, Rolf, came and put a transponder (TP) into one of the chicks. The other chick was too small but a week later Rolf came back and finished the job. If you remember, I caught Sir Ed just before he started incubating after he had been on the run for two years.
I also received a couple of chicks from Todd to add to the island population which should bring it to between 40 and 50 birds.
A worrying find on the beach in front of the house when I got back after being ill was a container of dog food? I hope this was used as bait for fishing and not somebody feeding a dog there. As the vulnerable kiwi are everywhere, there are "No Dog" signs all around the island as well as no less than 850 poisonous mammal baits every 25 metres! If you do see any predators - especially dogs - on the island please do not hesitate to ring me on (09) 436 0923 or 021 132 2261.
Thanks to all the volunteers and helpers for their great and greatly appreciated efforts!
Petrel points from Bernie's Ranger Report November 2014
Highlight of the month - petrel recce trip to Taranga (Hen) Island.
'The adventure started with the usual extensive DOC quarantine procedure on the Friday before the boat ride over. Once on the island no time was wasted, with Oi Petrel hunting taking place almost immediately.'
'Over the next three days the crack team located, measured and marked approximately 140 birds for the upcoming translocation. The weather whilst on the island was gorgeous and I cannot wait for the pick-up trip in a few weeks. The Oi Petrels were the focus, but my fellow 'petrel pesterers' were my highlight on this trip, the passion!'
Efforts of the lovely Petrel Volunteers!
Amongst the herculean efforts of French volunteer, Elsa, over her month on the Island were upgrades to the Oi petrel area!
On the first Wednesday of November 23 amazing volunteers got plenty of work done including fine tuning the petrel burrows!
Also the soon to be married committee member, John Ballinger, came over for a weekend visit and put some gravel up at the petrel station as it gets a bit slippery when wet.
Thanks to everyone for your wonderful efforts!
The French connection
Three keen and fun loving French volunteers have recently been working on the island. They attacked weeds, dug steps at the 'petrel-station', done a beach clean-up and spent a significant amount time in the hot sun removing sections of fenceline no longer needed.
Staying in the volunteer cabin and caravan, they cooked some lovely meals for the island babysitter, Dwane, while Ranger Bernie was across at Taranga (Hen) Island with a team checking out petrel chicks.
Thank you Elsa, Frank and Gwen for the good conversation had over a wine or two, and for the work you did on the island.
Tauraroa School helps out
Tauraroa Y13 students volunteered for the day, planting kohekohe seeds, clearing bait station lines of overhanging flax and branches. Holes were dug and concreting started for the shed lean-to. After lunch some students went for a tiki-tour of the cement mill ruins on the other side of the island.
All-in-all a great effort guys and a big thank you from Bernie, Dwane and Bernie's dad, John.
The students volunteered via Volunteering Whangarei - a great place to look if you want to do any sort of volunteer work in and around Whangarei.
Progress with the walking track upgrade
We are part way through the upgrade of the walking track from the oak tree by the Manager's house ruins up past the School Site and down the other side nearly to Shipwreck Bay. The track is closed at the moment and work is currently delayed due to wetness of the soil.
Side drains and culverts are in place and the woodwork for the stairs has been added, but infilling of the steps has not been completed. Once steps have been sorted, a helicopter will be used to directly apply aggregate to the final walking surface, much in the way it was done for some of the walking tracks on Mt Parihaka in Mair Park.
With recent rain, much of the loose dirt has been washed off the freshly machined banks into the drains and culverts. In the photos above, Stephen, Kurt, Keegan and Chris, students from Whangarei Boy's High School give the drains their very first bout of maintenance. Thanks guys, you did a great job.
Final Public Planting Day for 2013
Nine of us finished up the last public planting day on Sunday 14 July. An international affair with some from the UK, USA and Columbia. Trees were interplanted through the bush at the far end of the island.
It started out fine and calm but showers rolled through as the morning progressed and by departure around 2pm the wind was quite gusty, making the landing at the Onerahi pontoon that much more exciting!
A big thank you to all the people who came across on the three public planting days this year. See you all next year, or maybe on a Work-Wednesday (held the first Wednesday of each month).
People Potential Volunteers
Many hands make light work. Very true on this day when a dozen enthusiastic guys from People Potential came over to the island. Digging, planting and rock-breaking even.
Pictured are Brandon, Malachai, Juan and Ensign at the finish of clearing out trees and soil accumulated over the years in the corner of an old water reservoir just above the cement mill ruins. The small alcove will be fitted out with a picnic table, a super spot to linger and have lunch on a hot summer day.
A great day's work guys and the burgers were yum!
Work starts on track upgrage
On a calm bright sunny morning, the barge arrives with digger and motorised handcart. A start is made on upgrading the track from the old Manager's house, up over the hill and down to the Singlemen's quarters. Prone to being muddy and slippery in the winter, these tracks will be reshaped and topped with aggregate suitable for all-weather walking, along with the installation of steps in some of the steeper sections. Go guys!
The Badger family, GBC GM Michele Creagh, Bernie and Badger
I have just received some photos from committee member Theda Hall and as these outclass my humble attempts I will put one up here. The photo is of the Badger family of Chris Badger who as general manager (GM) at GBC in 1998 signed up to the first sponsorship deal for the island. Current GM of GBC was also present on the day and as you already know is carrying on the legacy of sponsorship and maintaining close ties between GBC and the island. The kiwi in the photo was named Badger in memory of this great man. His family (pictured) then came to the blessing on the Onerahi foreshore of the 100th kiwi which was released at Bream Head. We went for a tiki tour around the island afterwards and somehow managed to avoid the showers which were passing over that day!
Mouse-Busters get soaked
Bernie, the island Ranger had 18 enthusiastic volunteers across on the June Volunteer Wednesday (first Wed. of the month). In horrible drenching rain they managed to successfully change the baits for most of the grassed north face. Well done guys! The treats prepared by Bernie were well received at lunchtime (see insert in photo).
Golden Bay Cement maintains it's long time links with Matakohe - Limestone Island.
Since becoming the major sponsor of the Friends of Matakohe-Limestone Island Society (FOMLI) in 1998, Golden Bay Cement has been integral in turning the island from degraded pasture into a regenerating forest habitat. Check out this page on the Fletcher Building website.
A milestone is reached - the 100th kiwi chick leaves the island.
About 50 people gathered at Onerahi foreshore to celebrate the leaving of kiwis Badger and Huhana. Read more about it in this Northern Advocate article.
Don't forget to check out the Facebook page and "like" us.
Summer is coming to an end.
The trees are dripping with seeds and fruit, the dotterel and oystercatcher chicks have flown the coop, the royal spoonbills have moved in and the calling kiwi are keeping me up at night! Fortunately the rain has provided some relief to the flora and fauna at last with the giant cracks in the ground slowly disappearing. The three months that I have spent here have been a blur of action and learning and its been one hell of a ride. I seem to measure the time here by months as it goes so fast and with other exciting events such as the return of some of the petrels (monitoring) and new reliable all weather over island track and all tide northern landing area on the cards its only going to get more exciting! Must remember to update this site more regularly as well:) Now to figure out how to slow down time? I remember a story about Maui and the sun...
Christmas dotterels and oyster catchers.
Those foolish but determined oyster catchers have done it again. Despite selecting the most inconvenient of nesting sites right behind the picnic table and interpretation sign they have managed to hatch another clutch of 'Christmas chicks', who are now out and about roaming the beach. This is great news given the lovely weather, as we can unrope this area for our human friends to use. The dotterels have also contributed to a busy arrival area with another clutch of chicks also successfully hatched.
Congratulations to our competition winners.
The competition to name 25th kiwi chick hatched on Matakohe-Limestone Island is now closed and we are very pleased to announce the winners; Chris Leadbeater and Carla Rein! Chris and Carla won with their suggestion 'Hiriwa' which means silver in maori - silver in reference to the 25. Sir Ed's chick is reportedly delighted with his new name. Thanks to everyone who contributed a name - we had a great response. Some of our other favourite suggestions were 'Limey', 'Awhero' (hope) and 'Kumquat' - the latter mostly for the rather humurous explanation that went with it. For their winning suggestion Chris and Carla will be bringing three friends over to see a kiwi released on the island.
More Orca in the harbour.
Another big pod of orca were in the harbour today and they weren't just passing through. They seemed to be very busy doing something - we just aren't quite sure what, although it did look like they might be feeding and the gulls were certainly very interested in their activities. We were lucky enough to be on our way to town in the barge so we got a good look - a very good look - as they came up super close to the boat. There was quite a number of them including a big bull and a number of small calves. One of the calves had had a run in with a boat prop or something with sharp teeth and was missing most of it's dorsal fin. You can check out the photos on our Facebook page.
25th Island-born kiwi! Enter our naming comp.
We love milestones and this one is a goody. The 25th island-born kiwi chick has been hatched on Matakohe-Limestone Island. It was the reliable Sir Ed who took us over the mark - hatching two very perfect chicks. With only two adult pairs breeding on the island because of its creche status (the island is primarily used for growing on chicks from the mainland) this is an excellent achievement. (We are also approaching the even bigger milestone of 100 chicks being released back to the mainland - watch this space!). If you think you have a great name for this special kiwi you can enter our competition by clicking here (COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED). The winner can bring three friends to see a kiwi released on the island.
Mowgli & Co do it again
New Zealand dotterels Mowgli and her unbanded and still nameless mate are a predictable pair. They have once again set up shop for the season on the old sand barge and have successfully hatched three chicks, despite hassles from black-back gulls and the odd spur wing plover. With every chick successfully fledged being important for the national population these two are more than pulling their weight!
Dogs give island a pass mark
We have just been given a clean bill of health from predator dogs Occy and Cody who were on the island to survey for mice. These specially trained dogs (and their very fit handlers Miriam and Ange!)searched high and low and only found one possible hint of any rodent activity - around a baitstation. This is great news as it means our mousebust programme is doing what it should
Orca drive by
Heading to town today we got buzzed by a pack of orca! Dads, mums and babies. I hope the seals are somewhere dry!
The seal is still here! Check him out on Facebook
Our furry friend has made himself right at home and has been seen everyday over the last two weeks, sunning himself on the steps near the pontoon. You can check out more pictures of him on our new Facebook page. Just follow the Facebook link to the right.
We love visitors to the island and we have currently been enjoying the company of a delightful young fur seal. He (or she - very hard to tell as they dress fairly unisex) has been playing in the harbour for the last few days and today decided a bit of sunbathing on Matakohe-Limestone was just the ticket. For those of you not too sure what fur seal is, it is a marine mammal in the same family as the sea lion (sea lions are the ones you see balancing balls and clapping on TV....). It is in fact not technically a "true seal"; it has ear flaps you can see, large front flippers that it uses to swim (true seals have short front flippers and primarily use their tails to swim) and they can walk on all fours on land (true seals have to halumph along like an overweight caterpillar). Hopefully he will hang around for awhile so our school holiday visitors can also catch a glimpse for themselves.
A new look website!
If you are reading this than you already know the website has a new look, new layout and new features! Thanks to committee member and tech-phile Dwane Kokich we were able to create this new page ourselves (with a bit of design help from website designer Jess Lyding) and we are pretty happy with how it looks! It also has the ability for us to update it more easily so it will be a great resource for checking what is happening on the island and what is coming up. Dwane has dedicated hours to creating this website and we would love your feedback to make sure it is working like it should. Drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments.
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