Every month the islandranger, Darren Gash, provides an update on what has been happening on the island, below is the current report.
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Matakohe-Limestone Island Rangers' Report - April - May 2020
Well, what a strange time since the last Report with six weeks of being in lockdown. I am sure everyone will be happier now we have come down to to level 2.
During lockdown I left the island and stayed at my parents' place to wait out the quarantine, only returning to undertake essential tasks on the island, such as the trapping and kiwi monitoring. While nothing too eventful occured during that time - aside from the odd couple who visited while their yacht was moored nearby - we did have a group actually run away when we tried to approach them, as all visitors were politely asked to leave.
I then returned to the island to continue my ordinary work schedule and have been catching up on lots of the jobs that could not be done during the lockdown. Some people have also been making the most of the last of the nice weather and have kayaked over for a walk or to go fishing.
Visitors and Volunteers
- Obviously since the lockdown there have not been too many visitors or volunteers, but on the weekend just before the lockdown Dwane was island sitting while also working with a chirpy group of volunteers from Refining NZ who generously dedicated their Saturday to work on the island. They undertook some pest plant control on the North West side and also cleared out the drain that runs beside the driveway to the Ranger's cabin which had become full of large limestone chunks.
- Todd and his sons, Bill and Jack, came over to the island to help catch five kiwi that were to be released just before the lockdown. Four of the birds were relatively easy to capture, but the last one required all four of us as it was running away as soon as anyone was near it. However, it was eventually captured by Bill as it was about to make another run for it. Most of the birds were in moderately good condition except for one, but they were likely to put on more weight when they were released on to the mainland. Fred Tito performed a short Whakawaatea for the kiwi before Todd took the birds to their release sites.
- During lockdown my dad helped me with some of the work around the island. We did a bit of work on the trailer for the dinghy which had worn out its wheel bearings and worked on the wheel axle which had become incredibly rusted. We also buried some of the waterpipes that cross along some of the vehicle tracks and intalled new clearlite sheets on the Ranger's cabin deck.
Flora and fauna
- Unfortunately, Glen, one of the first kiwi to be released on to the island, was found deceased at the cement works ruins. The cause of death is unkown at this stage, but from the data we gathered from his chick timer, death ocurred during the weekend just before the lockdown. Once the DOC office has re-opened we will take his body for necropsy.
- On the lighter side, the oi/grey-faced petrel are starting to return to their burrows. So far we have seen three birds, two of which are the same couple that raised Ahi Kaa Toa. Here's hoping we see another chick this year.
- The Royal Spoonbills have begun to migrate back up north to wait out the colder months. Large groups have been spotted hanging around the north side of the island during low tides and over on the Rat Island foreshore. Lots of dotterels and variable oystercatchers have been seen on the edge of the sandspit on the island around low tide.
- The leopard seal Owha was seen resting on the island jetty duting the lockdown - she was able to be identified by some of her scars and spots. If you do see any seals in/near the harbour make sure to report it to http/www.leopardseals.org or call 0800 LEOPARD (0800 5367273).
The trap catches on the island still remained very low with only one mouse being caught in a rat trap. During lockdown we did put out a few more poison baits as the buffer zone traps were unable to be checked and rebaited during that time.
- We managed to fix up the wooden gate by the jetty once we reached level 3 of the lockdown and were able to purchase new bolts for it and replace some of the timber with spare planks that were lying around. Now it is back by the jetty and looking almost brand new.
- I have also been using the spray tank on the tractor to spray around the baitstation on the North face. As mentioned previously, the spray tank does have quite a low pressure and at times cuts out. I'll make sure the service team has a look at it when they come to do the annual service for the tractor.
Volunteer Wednesdays will be resuming in June so feel free to come along and get you muscles moving again. We'll meet at the Onerahi jetty at 9.00am on 3 June. Measures appropriate to level 2 will be in place.
All the best and keep safe