April 2018

Rotoiti Ramblings: Friends of Rotoiti Notes (St Arnaud)

Peter Hale reports:
Trapping results from March show an increase in rat and mouse captures and the usual decrease in stoat captures. The last 2 checks of the Speargrass line resulted in 35% and 38% of the traps with captures, mostly rats.
January and February are the usual months for peak stoat captures with RNRP traps catching 26 in January and 35 in February and FOR traps catching 28 and 10 respectively.
DOC mustelid tracking tunnel results from March were 0% at Rotoiti and 23% at Rotoroa (the control site with no predator control). The low number of stoats at Rotoiti may be the reason for the increase in rats and mice however nothing in nature is that straight forward.


Kiwi monitoring has confirmed at least one nest was successful this season with a chick being detected on a trail camera. It is suspected that another nest has been successful but the chick has not been picked up on a camera as yet. FOR volunteers have been enjoying their experiences working with the great spotted kiwi. You may have read the report of the death of a kiwi chick in the Tongariro forest as a result of a volunteer and supervisor returning the chick to the burrow without removing the insulation tape around the legs. As a result of this unfortunate error Tongariro DOC staff are no longer allowing volunteers to handle the birds. I hope this does not extend to Nelson Lakes as both working with, and handling the birds, is “the icing on the cake”, a reward for all the normal trapping work.

Bat monitoring at Nelson Lakes over January and February has detected long – tailed bats at both Rotoiti and Rotoroa using automatic bat detectors. These recorders pick up the echolocation sounds of the bats as they fly past. The work will be carried out annually as part of a long-term dataset and may give an indication of how pest control in the RNRP is impacting the population. Landscape scale predator control in the Eglington valley has had a positive impact on the short-tailed bat population there, see: http://www.doc.govt.nz/news/media-releases/2018/rare-bat-on-the-road-to-recovery/ .

DOC staff have received numerous reports of whio at Blue lake, the Travers and Sabine rivers and even one at the head of Lake Rotoiti hanging out with a family of scaup. These birds have probably dispersed from the Kahurangi National Park where landscape pest control has had a very positive impact. The newly established South Island captive breeding programme has also been very successful. 31 birds were released this season that were bred from 4 captive pairs. For more details on this programme see: http://www.doc.govt.nz/news/media-releases/2018/cracker-captive-season-for-west-coast-whio/ .

The recent cyclones have taken their toll on seabirds with thousands of dead and sick birds being washed up on NZ beaches. Little blue penguins have been particularly hard hit and featured in numerous news reports of which this is but one:
https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/northland/102248189/Blue-penguins-washing-up-sick-and-injured-on-Auckland-and-Northland-beaches .
Contacts: Peter Hale pajhale@gmail.com
FOR www.friendsofrotoiti.co.nz

Julie Robilliard