Every month the islandranger, Darren Gash, provides an update on what has been happening on the island, below is the current report.

If you would like to get the Ranger Report automatically emailed to you every month, just let us know.

Matakohe-Limestone Island Rangers' Report - October 2019

Warmer weather, strong winds and more fish coming into the harbour - Spring is truly here. Things have been relatively busy on the island with lots of groups coming over, kiwis being ready for upcoming transfers, sheep running rampant and plenty more.

Visitors and Volunteers

  • On Sunday 29 September while I was strolling around the island during the evening, I noticed a suspicious lack of sheep in the ruins. After a long search around said ruins I stumbled upon one of the spring gates which had been forcibly pulled back to a point where the spring had wrapped around the fence post and the gate wasn’t closing. At some point during Saturday/Sunday the sheep saw their opportunity to escape and took it. As it was getting too dark to search for the escapees, I had to return home and wait until Monday. Fortunately, Te Arai, the NorthTec practicum student was helping me out on the island the very next day and after a quick search for the sheep (who were hiding away in the flax field) we managed to herd them safely back into their proper grazing area.
  • Since the escape we have tightened our security by placing stopping posts and attaching chains to some of the problematic spring gates to prevent any further recurrences. If you or anyone you know is coming over to the island for a visit please remember to follow the rules and to respect the property: and if you do see anyone misbehaving on the island please call me on the island phone 09 4360923.
  • During the school holidays previous ranger Emma brought over a barge-load of kids each Wednesday and Thursday on both weeks as part of her Limestone Ranger’s school holiday programme They had a great time exploring the island and participated in lots of fun activities.
  • I wish to thank the volunteers who braved the strong winds on the Volunteer Wednesday. With their help we managed to dig out a new drain behind the Ranger's accommodation, clear debris from other established drains, control infestations of periwinkle and mothplant above the Six-pack dam and then clear out lots of the grass and weeds that had reclaimed the garden in front of the volunteer cabin. Also, a big thank you to Johnny from Beechscapes for donating material needed for the new drain and also a new tyre for the wheelbarrow.
  • Whitebait Connections, Drains to Harbour school holiday programme came over to the island during the 2nd week of the holidays to show kids where litter thrown on to the streets ends up. It was meant to be a perfect day with warm sunny weather and practically no wind but this was thwarted by a heavy fog and that didn’t dissipate until late morning, causing a bit of a late start. However, once the fog cleared it was a wonderful day.We started off with searching for rubbish around the berth for the barge followed by a search on the Northeast coast until we reached Shipwreck Bay. In total we collected a whopping total of over 800 individual pieces of rubbish! After the beach clean-up I did a brief tour for everyone where we learnt about weta and their hotels on the island, the old cement works including the old school that stood on the ridge, and we talked about the kiwi here on the island. After lunch the kids created some ‘rubbish art’ and took part in various activities such as scavenger hunts and games such as recycle relays.

Flora and Fauna

  • Fred Tito came over to the island to bless the chick and named it ‘Ahi Kaa Toa’, meaning the burning fires of occupation and strength/bravery. Ahi Kaa Toa is still doing well and has been growing quite quickly. Hopefully within the next couple of months we will start to see the chick leave the burrow to exercise its wings.
  • On the evening of Monday 30 September Todd, Jack and Rolf hitched a ride over to the island to catch kiwi for the upcoming Tutukaka release. It started off as a slow night with very little signs of kiwi around, but as we ventured up the ridge track we quickly caught a relatively large female. While Todd and I were busy attaching a transmitter to her, Jack and Rolf carried on searching up the ridge and managed to find another two female kiwi below the Pa site with one of the birds being island born. After attaching transmitters to them we released them back to where they were found. We continued back to the Manager's House/Ranger accommodation where Rolf caught another kiwi which was loitering around the garden and, after attaching another transmitter, we were done for the night finishing quite early at 12:00am.

Trapping

  • Hayley, the new island trapper, started her role in late September. At the moment she has been checking/servicing the traps on the buffer zone (Rabbit, Knight and Rat Island) and over time she will start doing the traps on the island as well.
  • The catch rate for the traps has been the usual story with the buffer zone traps catching some rats and mice and very few mice being caught in the island traps.
  • We have obtained some Contrac bait from the Northland Regional Council for an upcoming mouse bust which has become overdue.

Upcoming Events

  • As stated above, we will be having a mouse bust on Sunday, 3 November - meet at 2pm at the Onerahi Jetty. So, tag along if you want to help protect our native species here on the island.
  • We will also be releasing three kiwi into Tutukaka on 25 October. We will be holding a Whakawatea near the Onerahi Yacht Club at 10am to say farewell to the three birds. This will be a public event and everyone is welcome to join us.
  • Our next Volunteer Wednesday will be held on 6 November - 9am at the Onerahi Jetty.

 

All the best

Darren