November 2015 Workday Motuora

First pohutukawa flowers on MotuoraEarly pohutukawa flowers greeted the 27 people who ferried to Motuora for the last workday for 2015.

It was warm and overcast and a little light rain failed to dampen the spirits of the MRS members and volunteers who worked to help clear tracks, improve the fencing to protect shore skink and gecko areas, selective weeding and pricking out carex seedlings.

Ray Lowe, retiring MRS Chairperson, and Kit Brown retiring MRS Secretary, erected an information sign at the gannet viewing site. Some 20 gannets are nesting, one chick has hatched and there appears to be at least 3 birds sitting on eggs.

Ray on Motuora after his final committee meeting as Chair

Chris Green from DoC and the Auckland zoo team briefing MRS members about the translocation of Wetapunga.

Chris Green from DoC and the Auckland zoo team briefing MRS members about the translocation of Wetapunga.

 

Chris Green co:ordinated a team from the Auckland zoo in transporting and attaching 100 bamboo huts inhabited by half grown wetapunga to branches in established forest.

Labelled bamboo houses containing half grown wetapunga ready for attaching to trees on Motuora

Labelled bamboo houses containing half grown wetapunga ready for attaching to trees on Motuora

 

 

 

 

 

This is the fourth translocation of wetapunga to Motuora and tracking data provides evidence that previous populations have successfully bred a further generation of wetapunga so it appears that the zoo breeding programme and the lack of predators on Motuora are key factors in helping this species to survive.

Ben from Auckland Zoo and Liz, MRS Committee, attaching a wetapunga house

Ben from Auckland Zoo and Liz, MRS Committee, attaching a wetapunga house.

Nattu, MRS treasurer, attaching bamboo wetapunga house.

Nattu, MRS treasurer, attaching bamboo wetapunga house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first ever fluttering shearwater chicks have hatched on Motuora as a result of a sound attraction programme on Motuora. John Stewart, MRS Chairperson, and co:ordinator of the seabird translocation programme assisted by Kay Milton banded the month old chick. The other chick was only 10 – 16 days old so was too small to band.

The first fluttering shearwater to hatch on Motuora about to be banded by John Stewart current MRS chair.

The first fluttering shearwater to hatch on Motuora about to be banded by John Stewart current MRS chair.

John briefing volunteers and MRS members about establishing fluttering shearwaters on Motuora

John briefing volunteers and MRS members about establishing fluttering shearwaters on Motuora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first fluttering shearwater to hatch on Motuora about to be banded by John Stewart current MRS chair.

The first fluttering shearwater to hatch on Motuora about to be banded by John Stewart current MRS chair.

The second fluttering shearwater to hatch on Motuora.

The second fluttering shearwater to hatch on Motuora.

A gallery of photos from the November 2015 Motuora workday, click on image to see full size:

Workday Sunday August 30

Kowhai

Kowhai

Despite a threat of heavy morning showers 19 people assembled at Sandspit for a workday trip to Motuora. We skimmed over a calm sea as gannets arrowed from on high into the sea near a pod of dolphins. It was warm, heralding spring, an impression reinforced by the breeding plumage of the 2 pairs of New Zealand dotterels scampering on Home Bay as we landed and the abundant brilliance of kowhai and manuka blossom.

Manuka

A pod of between 6-8 dolphins spent the morning circling Motuora. They too seemed to notice that spring had arrived. (Click on images to view full size versions).

Dolphins off Home Bay, Motuora Dolphins off Home Bay, Motuora

Dolphins off beach at Motuora Dolphins off Home Bay, Motuora

In-fill planting was completed on two sites by many of the volunteers while Ray and Kevin planted posts to hold signs indicating the date when trees were planted on Motuora. The threatened heavy showers never eventuated.

In-fill planting

Planters taking a tea break from in-fill planting on steep bank

Ray and Kevin using post ram

Ray and Kevin using post ram

Signpost dating forest planting

Signpost dating forest planting

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Above Motuora

In March this year Simon Chamberlin arranged for Angie Cole to take some aerial photos of Motuora. Simon’s parents farmed Motuora prior to its purchase by the Government in the early 1960s and he served on the Motuora Restoration Society Committee for many years so he is keen to see and have a record of the restoration work that MRS has overseen since he can no longer visit Motuora.

In 2004 Ray Lowe took the following photo of Motuora. It still looked like a farm but you can see some the plantings of 1998-2002 at the southern end (top of photo) and a sprayed area for the 2004 planting at the northern end of Motuora. Compare this image to those that follow.

Motuora 2004

Here is a similar view of Motuora taken by Toby Shanley in 2012:

Motuora 2012

And Motuora in 2015 as seen in Apple Maps:

Angie Cole’s photos taken in March 2015 provide a closer aerial perspective of Motuora.

  • Looking North from Pa site. Home Bay to left of open area:

  • Looking North with a view of Home Bay to the Northern tip of Motuora:

  • Looking south west at 1998 and 2003 plantings. Note the density of the pioneer forest:

  • Home Bay showing nursery, potting shed, manager’s residence and solar panels:

  • Looking across Motuora to Home Bay:

  • Looking NE across Motuora. Home Bay to right out of picture:

 

November Workday 2014

As the planting for 2014 is complete the final Motuora workday for 2014 enabled volunteers and committee members to clear the upper twin dam of weeds, to prick out some seedlings and perform some essential maintenance of island equipment.

Weeding upper twin dam

Weeding upper twin dam

Over the last two dry summers the upper twin dam and the large pond near the water tanks have dried up. The large pond now has water but is still low. The upper twin dam is also dry. We hope that there will be enough rain this summer so that the dams will not dry out again.

 

Dry top dam March 2014

Also on Sunday Chris Green and 2 helpers checked the wetapunga hutches to see if any of the wetapunga released this year are still inhabiting these residences. Most, it seems,  have moved away. More details in a later blog.

July Workday and more wetapunga

Panorama of Motuora from Home Bay beach at low tide

Waiting to board the Kawau Kat
Photo: Richard Hadfield

On Sunday July 27th 82 people took advantage of the large ferry to participate in the workday on Motuora. A large group of Bridgestone staff, some with their families, along with a Royal Oak scout group made up the bulk of the day’s working party.

Waiting for the sausage sizzle

 

 

 

 

 

As most of the pioneer planting on Motuora is complete only a small amount of infill planting and canopy trees needed to be planted. So, according to Vonny (the Island manager) 898 trees were planted in 4 infill sites including the planting of carrex grasses around the top pond and muehlembeckia at the top of the Home Bay track. The planting was supervised by Vonny, MRS committee members and 4 of the DoC volunteers who had been working for Vonny all week.

Shaun Trevan and Kerry Gillbanks manicured the storm damage on the large macrocarpa on the Home Bay camp ground. Shaun’s professional arborist and tree climbing skills were necessary to remove the large broken branches from the macrocarpa while retaining the majesty of this old tree. Thank you Shaun and Kerry.

Home Bay macrocarpa after aborist, Shaun Trevan, removed wind damaged branches.

 

Shaun and Kerry removing the willow tree branch

Shaun and Kerry also removed the branches of the willow tree overhanging the water tank of the manager’s cottage. This willow was infested with giant black willow aphids last summer and the honey dew produced by these aphids contaminated the tank water. It is interesting that these aphids are a very recent arrival in New Zealand and have spread suddenly and  widely over the country. How did they get to Motuora so quickly? Another puzzle is that they have disappeared earlier in the season than they do overseas. It’s not clear where they go when they vanish. Unfortunately the aphid honey dew encourages wasps which were a problem this summer.

A big thank you to the lads who did the dishes after the sausage sizzle!

Wetapunga News from Chris Green (DoC)

On 26th June during a brief break in the weather a further 231 wetapunga were released into the bush above Pohutukawa Bay.  While most of these (216) came from the captive colony at Auckland Zoo there were 15 from the Butterfly Creek colony.  This is very significant as they come from different parentage and this adds to the genetic diversity of the founding population. The site is the same as that where 150 were released from the Zoo on 3rd April.

Paparazzi attention focused on full-grown female wetapunga released on April 3rd 2014. Photo: Ray Lowe

Most of these weta are more than than half grown and will be maturing into adults over the coming 6 – 8 months. Monitoring of these released weta is planned for late this year to verify they have reached adult so egg laying could be expected over summer and autumn next year. Meanwhile monitoring of the first releases in Macrocarpa Bay is also planned for later this year.

Photo Gallery

Below is a gallery of the above photos plus some photographs taken on the July workday by Richard Hadfield as well as some additional wetapunga images captured by Ray Lowe and Liz Mair. All other photos by Bruce Ross. Click on each image to view full size.