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October – November update 2021

Education update

With winter, lockdown and school holidays it has been a quiet time for visitors up at the centre. However in the background things are simmering away and bookings are coming in steadily for term 4 (get in quick – December is filling up fast).

Projects under way

  • Developing the shade house for growing plants for the edible gardens
  • Looking into running an outdoor first aid course for locals and other users to be run at the centre – especially now we have a defibrillator
  • Developing educational units and resources especially focused on birds, adaptations, foodchains
  • Developing a mindfulness walk

What you can do

Book your school or interest group in (email educ.met@gmail.com) for a day of scavenger hunts, bird facts, weed busting (can also include learning about predator control, biodiversity, making weta houses)

Predator Control Update

MET is in the middle of carrying out our post-poisoning rat monitor and are hoping for a zero result. We have cameras spread through the block as part of the wallaby trial and the cameras have only detected one rat in over a month of recordings. We are currently doing two poisoning rounds a year and it seems that we will need to keep doing this for the foreseeable future. A Whakatane group tried dropping back to one round a year and the rat numbers quickly rose. It is likely that any bush areas not getting extensive pest control will be saturated with rats. The level of rats for bird breeding is 5% or less and currently our rat index hovers around zero.

The wallaby trial is comparing two different approaches, both using feratox (cyanide) capsules.

One method was to place cyanide laced striker baits along the existing bait station lines with no prefeeding. The second method was to set up ten feeding stations at 200m intervals. The feeding stations consist of a bait station filled with maize, karamu leaves and nontoxic refeed strikers. We planned to do two rounds of prefeeding followed by a round with toxic strikers. However, covid lock down and bad weather disrupted the trial and we ended up doing 4 lots of prefeeding before we used the toxins. Cameras revealed wallaby actively feeding at 8 of the stations and family groups were present at some sites. A number of dead wallaby were found and the number of photo records dropped off sharply after the toxin round. It seems that the same wallaby groups were visiting a number of stations and the cameras show that the remaining individuals are single individuals that seem cautious and shy of the baits.

The feeding station method killed a lot more wallaby but was more time consuming. The areas we are working in are dense bush and not very suitable for spotlighting.

We had a very successful baiting day in September with 36 volunteers plus our wonderful BBQ team achieved a good result with all 340 stations filled. I took a small team out the day before and did some of the remote lines and finished off bits and pieces on the Monday. A huge thank you to everyone.

Planting

We have diminished this year’s planting in the area adjacent to the old school and have planted around 800 trees thus far. Thanks to the keen volunteers who turned out that Saturday morning.

On a negative note, 6 traps have been stolen from Braemar rd. This has to be a planned activity as they needed to have a square drive screw driver to open the boxes as well as hexagonal driver for Bugle screws holding the traps to the posts. I have now replaced all but one of these traps and I have put a large tec screw through the base of the trap into the posts. So if the trap is set off you can’t access the fixing screws. We would love to have any information about who is stealing these from the community.