Project Hollyford Face
RDWT also funds a significant part of Project Hollyford Face on the Routeburn Track. Evan Smith, one of the MacKenzie hut wardens, has been giving inspiring hut talks about predator control for many years and using any money raised to extend the network of traps on the track. Funding from Air NZ has permitted a huge extension of the trap network down all the tributary creeks and into the alpine areas of the track.
Evan is delighted at the increased numbers of birds he is now seeing on the track and this was acknowledged by Lou Sanson in his recent Director General Report having walked the track again this summer.
The wrybill is unique in the world for its beak with the twist to the right, used for getting invertebrates from under rocks in the braided rivers. It is a seasonal visitor to the Rees and Dart rivers, flying in from coastal areas mostly in the North Island to breed between October and January.
In the October survey we counted 71 wrybill on the Dart River.
Early trapped predator data
We now have 595 of our target 601 traps in position. We have yet to do our final checks, set ups and counts before the set up phase of our project is complete. Despite this we have some early data from the traps. The image shows these data.
Braided River Project
Thanks to the hard work of Rusty and his workers building trap boxes and putting the traps in the field there are now 593 RDWT stoat traps covering approximately 120 kms beside the Rees and Dart Rivers.
Kill score so far is 41 mustelids (stoats and weasels) and 17 rats.
This was a huge undertaking often in very hot weather so it’s great to have Rusty’s dedication.
Bird count data
We now have the report from the bird count/survey from the end of last year. We will repeat it in 2018 and 2019. The map shows the areas of the rivers we surveyed – in one kilometre sections.
Traps being placed
Rusty Varcoe is currently placing the traps along the Dart and Rees rivers. The low resolution image shows the trap lines.
Trap boxes well underway
Helen popped in to see Russel this weekend and caught up on progress. Our trap boxes for the Braided River Project are well underway and we’re one step closer to that predator free goal. Great work Rusty.
Bird count underway on Dart River
With the help of contractors Mike and Pat from WMIL (Wildlife Management International Limited) the RDWT held its first braided river bird survey over this weekend. We were blessed with great weather and willing volunteers to achieve our goal of walking approximately 20 km stretches of both the Rees and the Dart rivers finishing at the delta.
All expected species of birds were encountered in varying numbers – black billed gull, wrybill, black fronted tern, black backed gull, South Island pied oyster catcher, wrybill and banded dotterel. An unexpected sighting of a godwit on the Paradise Beach (before the start of the survey) was a bonus!
On receipt of the written report on our findings from WMIL we will have a baseline population to work from. Surveys will be done yearly for the next two years and then at longer intervals.
Braided Rivers project
We are delighted to announce that Russell Varcoe from Glenorchy, has won the contract to help us with the set up phase of the Braided Rivers project. We had many high quality applicants. We are currently finalising the contract and a timetable for this crucially important phase of our project. We look forward to working with Russell in the weeks and months ahead.
Otago Daily Times
Following its feature article about the trust in March of this year, the Otago Daily Times has published a follow up article. Thank you to the ODT.