Environment – Birdlife flourishing despite incursions

Despite a few recent incursions, reported in recent issues of Hibiscus Matters, what’s important is that overall the pest management works as it should, and so far it has.

This allows our native birds to thrive and breed, and this season they certainly have.  The dotterels were particularly successful, with a whopping 13 fledglings. They started laying their eggs on the beach and dunes earlier than usual, and we did not get any high tide/high wind combinations so most of the chicks managed to hatch and mature before the summer break brought all the beach-goers.

The robins are doing well, with 37 fledglings from 11 pairs. Those from the nests that volunteers could reach were all banded. The saddlebacks are not being monitored, but many juveniles have been spotted, so their first breeding season has been a good one.  At the moment they are easiest to find around the campground.

The little spotted kiwi also seem to be doing well. The very long run of dry weather we had over summer was potentially a problem for them as the ground becomes much harder to probe for insects and worms. However all those with transmitters are currently being caught for their regular health checks and so far they are all fine. We do not know how many chicks arrived as they are left alone as much as possible, but two chicks were seen on video.

Our seabird boxes on the clifftops yielded both a grey-faced petrel chick and a fluttering shearwater chick. A few days before they left, they started coming out of the burrow at night to stretch and flap their wings to get ready for launch. They were both banded so wherever they return to breed in a few years – most likely here –we’ll know it’s them.
Finally, although it has not yet been detected here, the sanctuary still faces the threat of kauri dieback. This is definitely spread by muddy shoes on humans, so Auckland Council and SOSSI volunteers are upgrading the main tracks so that they do not become muddy in wet weather. Waterfall Gully should soon also have a much improved ‘hygiene station’ for shoe cleaning.  

But you can help too. Visitors to Waterfall Gully may have encountered a nice person based there all summer to give advice on brushing and spraying your shoes on entering and leaving. You can also help by staying to the tracks, please. This might all seem just a nuisance but over time there are bound to be more and more threats from organisms like this (myrtle rust still hangs over us). So if you value your walks in the bush, please clean your shoes.

Top, The grey-faced petrel in the rather scruffy process of losing its down feathers. One of SOSSI’s little spotted kiwi.