Te Henga Pāteke Update
As of yesterday there are still 16 signals that our monitor Heidrun picked up at the wetland. There had been 15 for a while but one bird returned after an absence of 7 weeks. Another early departee has not returned but with some birds returning after long intervals who knows what will happen. At the recent pateke release on Motutapu Island it seems some of their pateke have gone beyond reception area and Motutapu has only large swimming pool sized ponds to hide in!
But yes we have had some losses. There have been 2 dead birds found and one presumed dead although its transmitter was pinging away under 1.5 metre of dark swamp water. Sometimes a harness holding the transmitter breaks prematurely and this might be so in this case but unless we get scuba gear to search we’ll not know. One retrieved pateke was sent to DOC and the report indicated no predation by cat, stoat or ferret but there was a broken tarsus bone so a possibility here is that the bird was hit by a car while attempting to cross the road and managed to fly back to the swamp before finally dying there. If that is so then as our DOC advisor said, the pest control is holding up. Losses are expected in translocations and success will be having 40% or more living after 12 months and we are currently still at 80%.
On our recent hunt for the pateke mentioned above, the signal emanated from across the big pond that was recently part of the Salvinia spraying. This posed a dilemma as we need to find any dead pateke to try and determine the cause of death that in turn, might guide our pest control efforts. MPI realized our need for information though and thankfully gave permission to kayak across after which we trudged and waded through 70m of raupo finally finding the body. Afterwards we washed the kayaks with algicidal solution to avoid any possible spread.
While we get reports of trap catches from 2 or 3 people who tend smaller numbers of traps, Matt who services 95 traps in his two long circuits, reports fortnightly after his rounds and to date this year he has trapped 24 stoats; 26 weasels, 1 ferret and 86 rats. For the mustelids [stoats, ferrets, weasels] this is almost the same as the total for last year and we are only 6 months down!
Anyone who has been looking after just a few traps on their place please let me know if you catch pests; if you need help or if the effort is too much to sustain. Particularly over these next lean months the pests will be more in need of prey and out hunting so continued efforts to catch them are necessary.
You may have seen Heidrun with her antenna scanning for the signals from a few sites along Bethell’s or te Aute Ridge Roads and recently we purchased a very expensive receiver that is far more accurate and sensitive so we get a better idea of where the transmitter signals are coming from. She is now gaining an idea of which drakes are constantly near which ducks so it seems that pairs are forming – might we see ducklings in spring?