September 2018

What’s been happening in the RNRP July and August 2018

It seems like July and August have been very wet months, with fine breaks in the weather utilised for field work and reporting and workshop jobs done during the cold wet periods. The first draft of the 2017/18 RNRP annual report has been completed for editing and should be up on the website (along with the 2016/17 report) in September. Here are some of the things we have been up to over the winter months:
Stoat catches are very low, we have scaled back to 2 monthly trap checks and in August only seven stoats were caught.
Th main body of work for the last few months has been working to upgrade our mustelid trap network. All trap boxes in the project will be replaced with larger trap boxes that can be fitted with two DOC200 traps. These will then be used to run a trial comparing double set DOC200s in a best practise box design to those in a run-through style box. This trial builds on work being done by the Friends in the Rainbow valley comparing run-through traps to standard. The boxes have arrived and are currently being fitted out with baffles and traps to eventually go into the field.
Possum captures have remained at a low level with only two caught in August. We are continuing our clay-based lure trial in Big Bush, and it appears that the dough clips might be more attractive than the clay.
Kea Nest Protection
The kea nest protection work for the breeding season has started with traps around known kea nesting sites opened. Kea nest on the ground in cavities so eggs and chicks are vulnerable to predation. Kea will reuse nest cavities each year so in an effort to protect them during this time mustelid and possum traps have been installed around nests. This is difficult work as kea seem to like nesting in the steepest areas, with bluffs making it difficult to set out good networks around all nests. Trail cameras have been installed in nest cavities to monitor for kea. If you see any keas it would be great if you could enter them directly into the national kea database website
Great Spotted Kiwi Monitoring
The acoustic monitoring done in March has now all being finished with all recordings analysed with a separate report produced. Thank you to everyone involved and looking forward to carrying out this monitoring again in March. We now have several of the Friends trained up in triangulation of kiwi with practises being carried out in Teetotal.
Tracking Tunnels
Despite the poor weather we eventually managed to get our tracking tunnels done, with Rotoiti been done early in the month we had to wait until the 30th and 31st of August before we were able to do our Rotoroa monitoring. Once we have been through the cards we will know what our rat tracking rates are.
Windfall Clearing
Contractor Chip Clarke spent time getting through the worst windfalls left from storm damage in 2014on traplines. Chip and his staff with the assistance of Emma made quick work of some gnarly windfalls in the Big Bush area which will make working in these areas much more pleasant. The Dome trapline was the worst with the windfall pictured below creating a real problem for trappers, but it is now a pleasant stroll with a nice track cut through it (picture below right).
Lakehead Cat Trapping
Cat traps were run on the grass flats at Lakehead for a week. Very few cats were sighted on trail cameras and no cats were caught, but one possum was caught. We will try and revisit this area again next Autumn.
What’s coming up in September and October?
Most effort will be focused on the upgrade of the mustelid trap network, with boxes starting to be deployed in late September. The kea nest protection will continue with nest cavities monitored for activity.

News supplied by DOC, Nelson Lakes 

Julie Robilliard