DU member of Pohangina wetlands Gordon Pilone, sent in these shots of a recent catch.
He uses DOC 250 traps to eliminate stoats, rats and hedge hogs.
The kill traps are elevated on a plank on blocks to delay weed invasion and stoats seem to like “running the plank”.
Gordon said a hen egg as bait can be successful even at several weeks old. Also used successfully for stoat kill, is a Timms tunnel trap baited with a fish head.
Our intrepid group of AGM attendees visited the Pekapeka Swamp, squeezed in between the railway on the Eastern side, and State Highway 2 on the West. This area is well known to travellers who use SH2 south of Hastings. Older people who passed this way remember the swamp as being totally overgrown by grey willow. Steve Cave, Operations Environmental Manager for the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) explained the 98ha site is being restored to protect the cultural and historical value but also to help people understand the significance and important part wetlands play.
When Maori arrived in the area about 1530 this peat swamp, part of the limestone area, would have been very different. Its trip down hill started in 1873 with the dumping of rubble, fill and waste. The rail line was built in 1875. Between 1942 and 1970 channels were dug to drain the swamp, and in 1955 SH2 was straightened, cutting through the western side.
In 1970 Pekapeka was made a reserve. Willow control started in 1984 and finally a management plan to restore the wetland was approved by the HBRC. Helicopter and ground spraying targeted the willows. Community and school groups have put in many volunteer hours at the swamp. A clearing programme improved the flow of water through the wetland, and controlled animal and plant pests.
A plain to restore the wetland was approved by the HBRC in 1998. Work included a weir with a fish passage, to manage wetland flow, and funding allowed the site to be developed as a public reserve. Illegal dumping had continued at Pekapeka for many years and as a reminder of how wetlands had been treated it was decided to leave some rubble and reinforcing rods exposed as a reminder of the past.
Pekapeka opened to the public in 2010. Board walks, observation decks and even hides provide access and viewing points. Information boards give background and there is a picnic area. No toilets though. During duck shooting members of a local club use half the area and it is closed to the public. Club members are also involved in a predator control programme.
Steve said red tape, and resource consents often hold up restoration. So far it has cost them $60,000 for consents, eating into the small amount of funding they do receive. Thank goodness for volunteers.
Staff at Pukaha Mount Bruce were excited in late October last year with the arrival of the first whio (blue duck) to be hatched there in over 15 years.
The only one of four eggs to hatch, the duckling was raised with three other ‘exotic’ ducklings. The duckling’s mother was then put on another clutch of eggs and with hopes for a better hatch rate from the second clutch.
Staff are still unsure of the sex of this first whio. At approximately six months old a male whio will whistle when picked up and a female whio will grunt.
Nearly 700 hectares of wetlands at Banrock Station are being artificially flooded. This is the first time in five years the area near Kingston-onMurray, has seen flooding.
Banrock Station, in the South Australian Riverland, is on the Ramsar list of internationally significant wetlands.
A new regulator is pumping 2.4 gigalitres of water into the wetlands, a task which will take the next year.
Wetlands manager Christophe Tourenq said the process should mimic the natural wet-dry cycles of the flood plain, boosting the health of native plants and wildlife in the area.
Christophe said they had high water levels all spring and after that water levels would be reduced a little bit during summer.
“After that, again high levels next winter and then we start again to have a dry wetland in two years time.”
He said the process would recreate what happened before the construction of locks and weirs along the Murray River.
Story courtesy Wetland Care Australia.
The last few months since my appointment at the AGM in Napier, has gone quickly. Looking back we are making good progress on a number of fronts.
The 1200 metre low bund was constructed at Wairio to capture and hold extra water and it is performing exactly as it was designed. When I was on site there in October it was holding about 25 hectares of water with a maximum depth of 1.2 metres. Local DU members and volunteers had commenced planting along the bunds to provide cover for wildlife and protect the bund from wave lap erosion. Excellent habitat for a wide range of wetland birds including bittern, pied stilts, dabchick and waterfowl. Jim Law, Ross Cottle and team are now looking at replicating this for the block immediately to the south. This “think big” approach is certainly paying off.
I am also the DU nominee on the NZ Game Bird Habitat Trust which distributes about $100,000 each year to worthwhile wetland projects and $2 from each waterfowl hunter’s licence goes into a national fund for this purpose.
The Trust members met in November in Blenheim to inspect the Nelson – Malborough Fish and Game Para Wetland project located alongside SH1 between Picton and Blenheim. This large project has the same challenges as many wetlands: declining water levels and invading willows. There is a long term restoration plan in place currently being funded by the Trust at about $18,000 per year. The sight of large dead crack willows as you drive past looks like a grave yard but they are starting to win the battle. Native fish and wetland birds, including waterfowl are the beneficiaries.
On behalf of the Board, I hope you all had a very merry Xmas and will have a prosperous New Year. The AGM will be in the Wairarapa this year and planning is well underway to make this a success. Look forward to seeing you there.
Ecologists from around New Zealand visited the Wairio wetlands on 29 November with DU President Ross Cottle and Stephen Hartley, of Victoria University, as their tour guides.
The trip was part of the New Zealand Ecological Society’s annual conference in Wellington, and also included a visit to Pounui Lagoon and Onoke Spit, where Denise and Dougal Mackenzie were the guides.
Student Patrick Hipgrave and Dr Stephanie Tomscha spoke about their wetlands projects at the conference.
Stephen says Wairio have had good water levels for the past two years and the Raupo beds along the margins of stage 3 and 4 are maturing nicely.
During the tours, several royal spoonbill were spotted as well as the first signs of natural regeneration of Totara and Kahikatea in the drier sections of Stage 3 under restoration plantings of manuka and kohuhu. These were planted in 2011.
The manuka and kohuhu are now more than 3 metres tall and have shaded out the ground cover of tall fescue grass to provide the microsite conditions necessary for successful establishment of totara and kahikatea seedlings
▪ For more information on Dr Tomscha’s project, visit www.victoria.ac.nz