November 2020

 Will Reports: Very quiet this month due to the logging, then we had some rain, which was good, so went up a couple of times with Dawn, did some more late planting and weeding plus removed some old spray guards.   Bryan Riley Reports:  Hi Will,   Only one rat caught on the waterfall line. Nothing for the Wilks line. Cheers, Bryan.  Bruce Harvey Reports: Hi Will, Not much happened in November, just 1 mouse trapped on the Grassy saddle line. Cheers Bruce.  Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Nothing to report concerning this past month. Unless you count a couple of Wekas. Or it may have been the same one. (Live trapped and released unharmed.) No sign of other nasties, although a bit concerned at the repeated and concentrated, low-level attention a Hawk has been paying to a tree in the area. This is where I suspect a Kereru has nested once again. In a previous year, I found a dead Kereru at the foot. A youngster I suspect had fallen from the nest or had been attacked and fallen. But that’s nature I suppose. All for now, Alastair. Looking down on Grassy Saddle after the logging showing some of our recent plantings. Jimmy Lee valley to the right, Will’s Gully down to the left.   Mike Oliver Reports: Just one stoat caught this month, on the Central Line; it was 440mm long from nose to tail!  Two rats caught at the Fire Lookout.  This months total Gully Catches: 1 mouse; 1 rat and one stoat. Paul Peychers of Te Anau has been having trouble with kea’s feeding on DOC 200 trap tunnels!  “The kea’s chew around the tex screw that holds the lid of the trap, then once free, they somehow move the lid out of the way, then drop a stone on the trap to release it (makes it safe for them) then they grab the bait. If anything has been caught in the trap, they will eat that too. This is the first time Kea’s have interfered with our boxes but have been doing so for some time in the Murchison mountains. We will be installing metal brackets to stop this! (See photos) Amazing that they drop stones on the plate to set the trap off! They are very smart.  This bracket has been proven by DoC to work in the Murchison mountains Will, so all new boxes now...
read more

October Repot 2020

Kevin Reports: Rain has been good for late plantings, with about another 75 plants on the saddle and along the track. I took quite a few (4 or 5 trays) but at least a couple of these were tussocks, Maori Onion and Haloragus. Earlier I probably put in about 24 woody plants; Kaka Beak, Kowhai, Akeake. The logging and resulting alteration of the terrain has diverted run-off on to parts of the walking track, leading to washouts and scouring, When (and if) they complete the promised clean-up and restoration on the hill above we will need to sort out drainage and track work in the gully. Will Reports: After being held up with the logging, we are making use of the recent rainfall to continue with some late plantings. All infill or understory species as our aim is to try and have a ground cover, either low or medium growing plants to hopefully help to contain any moisture for when the summer months come. Heading home after planting on Grassy Saddle. Interesting a short video link that shows how rats favour peanut butter over other baits. With our DOC200 & 150’s the eggs are set out for the mustelids but we also use a mustelid lure and a dash of peanut butter so they can take their pick! See that rat walking along a clothes line! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBXbqeYxW8I&feature=youtu.be Anyone heard of Eraze bait? I’ve tried a search and ‘Connavation’ website but nothing. Maybe the lure has had a name change? DOC gave me some samples awhile ago and they were useful, more so than the Possum Dough. Maybe equal but if it rains the Possum Dough ‘melts’ away. Bryan Riley Reports: Hi Will, Welcome rain over the last week which will be great for all your young plantings up the Gully. Plants, shrubs and of course lawns are making excellent growth in the home garden! October catch Numbers.Waterfall line — 2 RatsWilks line ——- 3 Rats 3 Mice Post logging activity. Bruce Harvey Reports: Hi Will, Just 1 mouse caught this month. Cheers Bruce Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Trapping no big deal once again this past month. No rats, possums etc. but for some reason 4 mice. Not usual for me at this time of the year. So be it. Tuis quite common with one nesting within 20 m of the house. Often see pigeons as well, and there...
read more

September Report

Will Reports: We only had one day working up the gully in September due to the logging operations. Kevin and I were able to do a lot of planting, mainly on Grassy Saddle but had special permission and the next day it rained so that was good. We had another day early October as soon as the tracks were open to the public again so did more plantings. Most of the plants were understory species, grasses, tussock and the like. Logging operations. Bryan Riley Reports: Hi Will, September talliesWaterfall line — 1 mouseWilks line — 2 mice & 2 rats. Ross Cullen Reports: I spent a couple of hours up at the gully this morning (3rd October), tracked down some clematis and banana passion vine and one hawthorn, at the small gully by fence below Twin Gums and by the giant punga at end of Waterfall line. Cheers, Ross Looking up the Upper Jimmy Lee valley from above Grassy Saddle with the native bush snaking its way up towards Fowler Road. – Ross Cullen Photo. Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Broke the record this past month ! Since starting trapping in this location over 20 years ago, this past month is the only one I have not caught a thing. At least one possum still around but no sign of rats, mice or other nasties. Tuis common, the odd Bell bird and happy to have been able to observe a flock of seven Kereru enjoying themselves high in the air last month. Not a peep from Wekas. Don’t know what that is all about. Saw a Falcon beating into the wind a week ago and ten or so half tame quail still around. About all for now so will go and re-bait traps. Regards to all, Alastair. Mike Oliver Reports: 1mouse & 1 rat. Vandalism Once Again!! Our sign just above the Fossil Steps has been damaged again, more than likely by the same boys who did it last time. And the same perhaps they have been spraying graffiti here and there around the area. Come on parents, TDC, police and whoever else: deter this stupidity before they move on to bigger things! I think it is time to remove it all (and then let ignorance prevail). September 2020 Total Gully Catches: 4 mice; 3 rats. Thanks to all the Gully Volunteer team: plus thanks to;Tasman Holdings Ltd; PF...
read more

August Report

Will Reports: Not a great deal going on up the gully this month – or next month too I guess, but we have done something! In preparation for the logging we shifted the table on Grassy Saddle plus the track sign posts up higher and we will put them back once the logging has finished. Not sure about the table though as many have said it’s better where it is now. All closed. From Grassy Saddle looking up to the cellphone tower. A lot of small plantings though; long grasses and renga renga (maybe a hundred or so of each); 16 beech, one tanekaha a couple of totara from Janice Gibbs, plus Bryan gave me 5 good sized fivefinger plants. The beech were mostly black beech as they are the best for growing up there but also included were silver and red beech too. Some of the Kawakawa trees are suffering some sort of virus (well, that’s the fashionable name at the moment) which has killed a number in the gully. The disease was in Jimmy Lee Creek some years ago but now it has spread into the Wills Gully kawakawa. Some plants seem to recover though. I’m not sure but I’ve noticed that the caterpillar that makes the holes in kawakawa seems to have been affected as a number of leafs have less holes. Maybe a poison of the disease in the plant leaf deters them? The photos shows a dying plant. A cross section of a stump of a kawakawa. It’s about 100mm across but no age rings like a ‘proper’ tree? A dying Kawakawa. A fair bit of weed spraying done before the ‘lockout’ too. Thanks to Gary of Olsen’s for his assistance regarding the logging. Kevin Reports: Hi Will, This is in response to your question about lack of growth rings in Kawakawa stems (as per the post on the gully Facebook page):   If you follow this link to an article published in 1911 it probably explains why a Kawakawa trunk? stem? looks like it is.  I found it hard going, but I think it says that the woody cells (Xylem) develop from the inner side of the Cambrian layer (just under the bark) in bundles that vary in cell density, and tend to give a radial appearance to the woody stem.  The article says that growth rings can be seen, but they are...
read more

July Report 2020

Will Reports: Conservation Week this year is from 15 – 23 August, however we just about have it every week! So no big deal for us and we have all our season planting done except for some still too small to plant out yet. Hope to have them planted later in the Spring. A welcome to Dawn Chalmers who is helping us with planting, weeding and such. These have been planted plus a number of long grasses and renga renga. Richard Cheshire’s collection of native plants. A thank you to Richard Cheshire who gave us a number of native plants (25 to 30 odd); coprosma, hoheria, cabbage trees and pseudopanax. These have all been planted out. Thanks also to RobinVan Zoelen of TDC for his help. A number of long grasses and renga renga have been planted as we are trying to restore the undergrowth as much as we can. It will happen naturally but slowly so we are hurrying things along as this helps with erosion and to hold the moisture in. A pair of native pigeons are about, plus a number of both pied and black fantails. They are a bit of a worry as they flit about at ground level making an easy mouthful for any feral cat or weka too for that matter! A ‘tour’ group plodding up to Grassy Saddle from the gully. The contractors harvesting the pines up above Grassy Saddle are getting closer and we look up and around when hear a trees falling – just to make sure they are not that close! There are some people who flout the danger signs and get turned back. They seem to think the laws and rules are for everyone else except them? No doubt they would scream and carry on if a falling tree scratched them. Have had two group tours of the gully and a smaller one this last month. It seems that most don’t believe our progress until they are shown the before and after photos! Even then some seem to doubt it!! Bruce Harvey Reports: Hi a Will, There has been very little rodent activity during July. Just 1 mouse caught in the Grassy Saddle traps, and nothing in Valhalla or Saxton’s. However I think a resident Weka around Grassy is probably feeding on the trapped rodents because there is often traps pulled right to the back of the box....
read more

June Report 2020

Will Reports: A bit late this month as we have just about been full time up the gully with the planting and such. From Alison Nicholl: “Hi Will, I went up and did my traps this morning (early June). No catches to report. However I am sorry to report that I think this is the last time I can do the traps! I hope you can find some keen person to take over my line and the egg run. I have enjoyed doing both these things. – Alison” Alison Nicholl retires after servicing traps up the gully for around 12 years. Starting with just one trapline, it expanded to three lines and now we have eight lines. Alison also has done the ‘egg run’ (collecting the donated eggs from Ewing’s and delivering them to the trappers on the Richmond Hills) for just about as long! Not only that, she has supplied a swag of native plants over this time too. Along “Alison’s Bank” (on the Top Track) she supplied so many native plants along this side of the ridge that we called this spot after her. Thanks very much for your help over the years Alison. Bryan and Mike have taken over her lines of 20 to 21 rat traps while Shirley is now doing the egg run. Brian Hirst donated about 100 natives and that’s pretty good but he also got together a couple of friends to come along to help plant them all! Ross McDonald also donated some 23 kowhai, 5 cabbage trees, etc which we have planted out on Grassy Saddle. Thanks also to Ross Cullen who helped plant out some of the Council donated natives. Brent Beloe and Kevin Piper donated around 12 good sized natives while the council donated 175 plants which Kevin and I mostly put in place. Kevin has also ‘supplied’ well over 50 natives too. So all in all, a very good start to our planting season! Tasman Holdings Nelson Ltd kindly gave us some new PVC pipes which will be useful for drainage on the tracks for up the gully. We have passed on some to Greg in Reservoir Creek. Thanks Lyn. The before and after new planting just out from the Bottoms Track/Henry Road. Kevin Piper Reports: At last enough rain to really do some good and the plants are looking happy. Mostly planting this month, and very grateful...
read more

May Report 2020

Will Reports: Due to the harvesting of the pine trees above Grassy Saddle, David Burt, Kevin and I removed a number of signposts and then the picnic table itself on Grassy Saddle to a more ‘secure’ spot out of the way of any possible damage. We will restore the signage once we are given the all clear. A few days ago I received an email: “Hi Will, You may not remember me, but last spring I was walking up on your hills with a friend and you told me about Helio Hebes. I now have in my garden. I mentioned to you I was growing some Totaras from small seedlings and would supply some to you. I now have these and there about 30- 40 of various sizes between 500mm to 1000mm ready to plant. I can deliver to you but equally happy to help you plant them, or plant them where you think they may do best on the foothills. There are also about 50 reasonable size ribbonwoods (about 700mm) that are ready to plant if you can use them. I just like natives and now sort of retired quite like the nursery aspect, not to sell but to make people happy.” How could we possibly refuse an offer like this? And besides that he has even offered to plant them! “You point and we plant” he says. Yes, we have stakes and covers, but any spare holes you might have would be handy. Many thanks indeed, Brian Hirst. The old table in a new spot. Kevin and David have a break after the shifting. Kevin Piper Reports: Recent bouts of rain have been good for the plants, and many have perked up from looking rather parched and static from the dry spell. Soil on the hill is still very dry, however. I have been planting out some smaller natives as ground cover around the bigger shrubs and trees. Recently planted were some Bulbinella (Maori Onion), Jointed rush (Oioi), several species of tussocks (blue red, etc), Pachystegia (Marlborough daisy) and some Epilobium (Willow weed). Hopefully these will join the Hibiscus, Rengarenga, Dianella and Heliohebe to replace the gorse and weeds that we have removed. Bruce Harvey Reports: Grassy Saddle catches: 4 mice and 5 rats. Bryan Riley Reports: Wilks Block catches: 1 mouse, 2 rats and 1 weasel. Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Total of 3 rats this...
read more

April 2020

A poem written especially for Will’s Gully by Ken Taylor ~ Loving Nature Going up the gully For bush clean air Makes you feel jolly As you wander there To listen for bird-song Do not make haste As you stroll along Never fast your pace In Richmond’s bush surround Hear natures purest tone Clear cascading waters sound When dashing over stones Known Bush of Nature ALL so very pure For love of nature Is your only cure… … Ken Taylor (April 2020) Will Reports: Great News ~ According to the new meaning of the word Eliminate, it seems like the PredatorfreeNZ will be able to claim, that by 2050 all pests in New Zealand WILL be eliminated! Guess what, if this is the case we have completely eliminated all the pests up the gully several years ago! I’m wondering if we should sell all our traps; at least get something for them before others realise that their traps have become useless? Any cash raised to go towards buying more native trees. The pests that we are catching now? We will have to make some signs informing them, as they just don’t realise that they have been eliminated. Someone keeps vandalising our Bottoms Track signs. “The Bottoms” is the correct name and it has a meaning! It is very steep above and during the clearing of weeds, a number of times I ended up on the track in a certain position! More worried about where the chainsaw or slasher had gone than anything else. So it would be good if the disfigurer would leave the signs alone and to remember, it was only by the hard work and sweat of the past that they can walk along this track now. With the extended dry period with very little rainfall, a number of plants have succumbed especially the large forest trees, however, a couple of regulars who wander the gully tracks, Brent Beloe & Bud, sent this email: “Hi there Will. Notice some of our plants not looking too good. Have been giving a drink each time we go up but maybe to late. If they don’t pick up over winter I will pay for replacements as like them around the “Memory Corner. ” Take care and stay safe. Brent and Bud.” We have people like Brent & Bud who appreciate our work and then there are others! There seem to...
read more

March 2020

Will Reports: With the country in partial ‘lockdown’, we have to stay at home so nothing from us up the gully the last week of this March and maybe all of April too? However, I’m sure all the plants/trees are doing something, like growing. The rats, mustelids and possums will be clapping their front paws with glee at the success of the human virus though. Just ignore them. We’ll be back! Not good was dogs ‘under control’ as per the TDC by-law, that killed some of our neighbour’s sheep. The majority of people’s dogs are running free along the tracks. Great fun for the dogs but not good for the wildlife … or the sheep. Worked on the donated 10 rat tunnels via TDC/TeT, to upgrade to our standard and then Bruce set them out around Grassy Saddle and were in action straight away. The damaged sign nearby the Fossil Steps was taken down and when the virus scare has subsided we will replace with another type. Peter Wilks (neighbour) has been wandering around his block and the gully, making the pest weeds wither as he passes by. Ross Cullen has been doing the same in the gully so the pest vines will be looking a bit sick, ‘vigilante style’. Thanks Peter and Ross. I can’t help gathering local native seeds when passing out wandering around and the ten or so species of seeds collected have been sown in trays. Mostly undergrowth or second growth species, hopefully to join the other potted native forest types coming along nicely under one of my fruit trees at home. Kevin Piper Reports: Like Will, I am spending lockdown time trying to grow natives to be planted up the gully. Peg and I attended the excellent workshop given by Robert Fryer at the end of February about collection and propagation of native plant seeds. So I now have about 25 packets with collected seeds “false wintering” for six weeks in our ‘fridge before I plant them in my new plant-raising shed. I am trying to get interesting and colourful native plants to grow in niches on the hill. At the moment I have a tray of Bulbinella (Maori onion), red-leaved Haloragus, varieties of tussock, some Pachystegia (Marlborough Rock Daisy), Epilobium (Willow weed) and a few other assorted species. I have also managed to strike more Nikau palms than we can use. These are...
read more

February 2020

Bruce Harvey has joined the group and will be setting out a trap line around the Grassy Saddle area soon. The ten rat traps and tunnels for this were given to us by TET. – Thanks Elaine.  Kevin and I continued with stumping vines and such; and magpies were heard in the area which is not good! Some time spent removing older damaged green sleeves and securing others.  It was good to see a cicada grub shell on a kanuka.  A pest vine ‘suffering’. Bryan about to set out his new trapline. Bryan Riley Reports: Only one mouse to report for February (Wilks Block). I thought there may be a little more activity than that as the trap line is in a new area! I reset the stoat trap with a chicken leg as bait. If you are in the area would you mind checking the trap please. Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Not much activity again this past month. One rat, on mouse and two hedgehogs in total. Pet quail still around, and hear wekas calling from further up the gully. Don’t seem to come down much lower at the moment though. One thing becoming more and more common is hearing magpies yodelling. Up the gully yesterday there were at least 3 calling from different locations. Not too happy about that and will be keeping an eye things. All for now, regards, Alastair. Mike Oliver Reports:  7 rats;  1 possum, for the gully lines.  From Jim Chapman, who is restoring native plants and trapping on his property, which looks down on Allan’s Gully, Richmond Hills:  Hi Will, Just thought I would let you know of the news from Valhalla Drive. Caught 1 Rat in December and have a possum annoying us but so far no luck in catching it, will keep trying.  Sightings :-  1 Pheasant on the hill above our house. A family of 4 Weka sighted at the back of our house and are still about minus 2 that a dog killed.  A pair of Native Wood pigeons I think were nesting up Allan Harts track below the house are still in the gully.  Plenty of Quail but the tuis have disappeared as they did last year when it turned dry. It was probably the best spring for birds around Valhalla since we have lived here. February 2020 Gully Catches:  2 mice, 9 rats, 2 hedgehogs, 1...
read more

January 2020

Will Reports: Thanks to Shirl for attending to 11 – 12 rat traps for three traplines and for over many years. Mike Oliver is now looking after these plus the DOC150’s, DOC200’s and the Possum Masters. Alison Nicoll looks after the remaining rat traps on a couple of traplines.  Some rat traps have been stolen. Two young boys were interrupted throwing rocks at the large sign nearby the Fossils Steps, explaining the bird life in the gully. (photo below showing one of the damaged birds).  Unfortunately I didn’t notice the damage until later and didn’t have my camera  to record the little sods.    Part of the damaged sign. A walker told me: “A lady in a newest Jeep dropped them off at the Harts Road end off Hill street at 1 o’clock yesterday afternoon when I was heading up. Remembered because she parked on the footpath to drop 2 boys and a pup off, if the same one.” This will be them and I wonder if they might have been the same who damaged some rat traps, set of others and threw some gear around, some time ago? During January we installed some netting here and there mainly to stop dogs or kids cutting track corners and killing some of our plantings. Ross Cullen joined us in cutting and stumping weeds (vines, barberry and hawthorn) in the South Western corner of the reserve. We had started clearing gorse and such in 2006 then KRB gave us some natives and they were planted 2007 – 2011 years. Ross cleaned up around the surviving natives then Kevin and I joined him in tackling the large barberry etc., pretty hard work with the chainsaw on such a steep slope! Due to the fire risk we have stopped using any machines (thankfully! Kevin, I’m sure, feels like me, being quite happy to walk on level ground again).  Although there are still some barberry down there. Thanks for your help Ross.  Catches in the Gully for 2019 were 82 mice, 62 rats, 1 stoat, 8 possums, 8 hedgehogs, and 27 Asian waspnests.  For the 2019 planting season, we planted 1040 native plants.  The early bird gets the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.  Bryan Riley Reports: December report! Only one rat caught. I think we might be on top of the rat population in my small neck of the woods as...
read more

November 2019

Will Reports: Not a great deal this month but we have planted just over 1000 natives this season. Fingers crossed for a good survival percentage. A number of understory plants have been planted in groups so hope they grow and throw their seeds about. Not many pigeons about, have only heard a pair flying about now and then. The birds are pretty quiet so hope they are all busy nesting and feeding their young. A number of pairs of Californian quail running around though. No doubt some of their eggs and young will be tucker for the weka? The dogs seem to be keeping the weka down somewhat and when busy staking and tying up some windblown plants on Grassy Saddle and lower down, I spotted 3 skinks. They moved too fast to see what species they were. Busy catching up around home so only four days this month up the gully. Red legged partridge. Spotted a red legged partridge out on the Waimea Plains, possibly an escapee or perhaps a visitor from Marlborough. Interesting to watch anyway. Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Not much to report regarding activities this last month. One rat in total. A few pigeons about and suspect a pair are nesting in a conifer on my place. As they have done for several seasons. The odd weka seen now and then and quail all over and relatively tame. Some being 3rd generation to come to my daily distribution of grain. All for now, Alastair. Alison Nicholl Reports: 5 mice 5 rats! A bit of a change! Mike Oliver Reports: For The Gully Lines – DoC200 & DoC150’s: 1 mouse and that wasn’t caught in a trap! As Mike was walking back after servicing traps he spotted a mouse running before him along the track so it ended up being added to the tally. From the Fire Lookout Ridge: 3 mice and 3 rats. Bryan Riley Reports: (Grassy Saddle) One rat. On a bike ride around the new subdivision on Lower Queen Street came across some wildlife that will soon be forced to leave or be eaten! A nesting paradise duck and a pukeko fossicks about nearby. Total Catches for November: 7 mice; 9 rats. December catches still to be caught and then the end of another year! The next dispatch will include December and January catches and sent out very early February 2020. Season’s...
read more

October 2019

Will Reports:  Up by the second seat on the Top Track which we call The Memory Corner, a small sign has been placed. We have several memorial trees planted nearby in remembrance of people who have helped us over the years. A good spot to sit and reflect. The new Kanuka Steps (on the Bottoms Track) are just about finished, thanks to David Burt of KRB (Keep Richmond Beautiful). We still have to put in place some netting to deter dogs and children taking shortcuts over the newly planted. More plants have been planted bringing the total plantings to about 980 for the season. Food must be getting short as the weka are turning over the rat traps in search of catches or the bait. We have started placing steel pins either side of the tunnels to hold them in place.  Some tunnels have been rolled downhill for 50 or so metres.  Thanks to Olsen’s for a new supply of baits for our traplines in the gully.  Completed new steps on the Bottoms Track. Replanting has been done around the new work but still a dog and children barrier to do to try and stop the plants being damaged. Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Very quiet month with 2 hedgehogs in total. No sign of any rats or other nasties. Did live trap a very large cat, obviously being domestic was released without injury. Numerous tui’s about and the occasional sighting of a Kereru. Not a lot though. No recent sightings of Weka’s nor have I heard any calling. Not too worried about that though as they do move about. Tame quail still about and come to the grain I put out. As do the ducks. All for now,  Alastair. Alison Nicholl Reports: I check the traps every week and recently there have been more Weka pulling the traps to the end of the tunnels and this can only be achieved if there is a rat in  the trap, but no remnant for me to count so I could assume there have been more rats??? Bryan Riley Reports: Hi Will,  Only one rat caught this month.  Great to see all the young plantings doing so well. Cheers, Bryan Mike Oliver Reports: (from the fire lookout ridge): No catches.For The Gully Lines – DoC200 & DoC150’s:  1 rat. This is a view of part of the gully looking up towards Grassy Saddle. Between the white lines shows...
read more

September 2019

Will Reports: The new plantings have slowed down but we put in over a 100 plants this month. We also dug out the natives around the kanuka tree nearby McGlashen’s Dam in preparation for the new steps around the kanuka. These small natives were planted out elsewhere. We were fortunate to have permission to collect some native seedlings of black and red beach, totara and also a couple of cedar, from some privately owned native bush. All potted up and hopefully they will be ready to plant out next season. (Thanks Janice). The weeds are growing like heck – can we get some of their growth genes and transfer them into the native plants? The weedeater has been in action but weed spraying needs to be done once the wind dies down. Kevin & David stacking the timber for the new steps to be built around the kanuka tree. The idea is to keep the track foot traffic off the kanuka roots. It’s been good to hear a pair of pigeons return – haven’t heard or seen them for some months. The falcon is still resident – is it the culprit? While the harrier pair drift about on the thermals. A pair of tui feed on the tree fuchsia flowers. Not many silvereyes, not many bellbirds, not many native pigeons. Around home not many blackbirds or thrushes and the same with silvereyes. The dunnock have been wiped out by the local cats. There are less starlings fighting over the nesting box this Spring too. An idea for a bait station to kill wasps. Reuse and cut down a milk type container, screw the cap to a tree, cut the container to shape and then screw it into the cap on the tree. Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Not a lot this month but a mixed bag. One mouse, two rats and a hedgehog. No sign of any wekas though I hear them calling at times. further up the valley. Have stopped the bird feeder for the present with there being plenty of flowers about. Not seen any kereru, but heard one flying out of sight among the trees somewhere. Quite a few quail still in residence and ducks still arriving each day for their hand out of mixed grain. All for now, Regards, Alastair Alison Nicholl Reports: For this month 1 rat 2 mice and one pin nicked by...
read more

August 2019

Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Nothing to report this last month. I was away overseas most of it though had traps set for the last 10 days. House sitters very impressed with the tuis & bellbirds feeding within a couple of meters of the kitchen window. Took dozens of photos. Tame ducks back, as are my small flock of quail. Cock pheasant in residence and the odd rabbit. Great to see. Regards, Alastair. Will Reports: Only 78 more natives planted this month but we have been along some of the tracks, picking up natives that have sprung up along the track edges and transplanted them out off the tracks. Some have been taken up to early plantings to help restore the undergrowth. A lot of old plant sleeves have been taken off established plants and removed from the gully. We have reused a lot, sometimes up to four times so guess they have served us well. Our neighbours are doing well too with the Rayward’s clearing of the pest plants and sowing grass while the Wilks’ have been clearing and planting natives and gave us 10 kanuka plants. They might be manuka – we’ll find out in the future. I gather native plant seed and set them out in my little hot house but I’ve been having trouble with sparrows who slip in and feed on fresh shots on my plants for gully. I’ll have to have a little talk to them. On one of Bryan’s Possum Master traps, he has had trouble with a caught animal chewing through the cord and escaping. Twice. Pondering what to do, Kevin suggested using bike brake wire in place of the cord so we set it up, checked it once, but the animal hasn’t been back so I guess we’ve taught it to keep away from those things. The photo shows the bike brake cable installed on the trap. The Possum Master trap with bike cable wire used. Mike Oliver is now attending to the Possum Master and DOC200 & DOC150 traps in the gully (except for Bryan’s). John Wilson recently ‘retired’ (thanks John) and I had been looking after them. Alison Nicholl Reports: Report for August. Many thanks to Will and Shirl for checking my traps over the last month while I was out of action. I am back to normal now. The count for August is 10 mice! It does...
read more

July 2019

Alastair Mackintosh Reports: One rat and two possums. Continuing the vandalised bird feeder story: Yes the “Loose Bowled Bandit” has been re-cycled. Setting up the game camera proved that not only the unknown culprit was a possum, but showed it was visiting the bird feeder just on dusk. Will Reports: Kevin and I have been steadily working away on improving the walking track over the last month. Some time has been spent on removing old plant protection sleeves. The harder green plastic ones seem to get brittle and break up as they age and we don’t want little bits of plastic spread around. Kevin checks out the work done on track improvements on the Holly Steps the other day. Will taking a rest. Thank you to Brent & Bud for their donation of some trees for the gully. A number of the rat traps have been knocked around, dislodged and baits stolen by the wekas. Food must be getting short for them and they have plenty of time to peck about on the tunnels trying to get either the bait or a caught mouse or rat. Number native trees planted this season is 626 so far. This has consisted of 92 from TDC; 45 from Richard Farrar; 24 from Ross; 92 from Georgina Pahl; some from Karla & Alison and the rest from Kevin and me. Plus of course the trees via Brent and Bud’s donation. Kevin also supplied some potting mix and bought some beech trees. Graph of Visitors Using the Tracks This from TDC, shows the number of people per month using the tracks in the Richmond Hills for Easby Park (the most used); one of the bike tracks; Jimmy Lee Creek and Hill Street South (our gully tracks). Nearly all our working visits are not recorded as we go via private property – so there has been a good number of visits not recorded! It does show how popular these tracks are though. And the need for more protection in the native gullies, especially to keep them in their natural state. Total Catches for July: 15 mice; 3 rats; 2 possums. Thanks to the Gully Volunteer team, KRB, Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter, Ewing’s Poultry, Mainly Natives, & Sarah & Rick...
read more

June 2019

Will Reports: The Problem of Dog Owners: Most dog owners let their dogs run free up the gully and I mean free – running through the bush many metres from them. They are definitely not ‘under control’ and pity any weka that happen to be nearby. They also cut corners along the track, knocking about any plants in their way and scare smaller children no matter what size the dog. Then there is the owner who throw their doggy bag into the bush along the track. We came across a ‘lady’ trying to call in her wildly running dog and when reminded that there were weka nearby (protected wildlife), she said her dog didn’t chase wekas and he was only a few months old. (??) She then said it didn’t matter as there were plenty of weka about anyway. The plant puller is at it again! Eight to ten newly planted natives on Grassy Saddle have been pulled out and thrown aside. The same problem we have had a little while ago and is it the same person doing this? We will probably install a camera to try and find out who is doing this stupid act. The drought has been hard enough on the plants without this carryon! And then we found that some druggie has been puffing away and leaving his ‘goods’ behind. Magpies Heard: To top off this lot of moaning, while re-planting on Grassy Saddle Kevin and I heard a couple of magpies calling higher up in the pines. Crikeydick, what with errant dogs, deranged plant pullers, druggies and now magpies! Should we just give up, stay at home and sulk? But Now the Good News! Georgina (of Mainly Natives) sent this: Hi Will, I FINALLY got myself on your track this week – I had a fabulous loop walk from Jimmy Lee around and out your gully. A gorgeous day to view all your hard work! It’s looking amazing with some interesting plant communities getting a good foothold. Now that I have discovered this walk I will do it more often :)….I noticed that there was some underplanting in the bush just below Grassy Saddle – looked like matai – that had all died (presumably from the dry). If you’d like to try some more, let me know – I have plenty. Got spare totara too. Cheers, Georgina. Thank you Georgina, we will be...
read more

May 2019

Will Reports: We have been busy working on installing new steps at the Fossil Steps, now completed. Thanks to David, Kevin and Bryan with help from neighbour Peter Wilks too. We also cleared some storm damage down at McGlashin’s Dam. A couple of trees had fallen down with one over the handrail by the dam and another over the decking nearby. A couple of trees fell across the McGlashen’s Dam in a recent storm and have been cleared. Collected 92 plants donated by TDC and we have planted them all; Richard Farrar donated and helped with planting out 17 kowhai and 7 cabbage trees; Kevin’s friend Ross donated 18 kowhai’s plus 6 renga renga’s; from Karla, 1 flax plus about 50 dianella. Which all come to around 257 natives planted so far this season. We have been re-staking some plants and also taking away older green sleeves that have served their purpose and taking out the odd vine and gorse pest weeds. We even had to hedge trim some of the bushes that were growing over the track – a bit of a novelty at this stage! Shirl’s traplines – nil catches; my traplines – 2 rats. Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Less activity this past month. Four rats in all. One extremely black one. (After the large whitish one last month). Quail family have moved on, presumably to their winter quarters. At least 4 Wekas in the immediate area. One juvenile has become quite tame turning up pretty well every evening at 5 for a “hand out”. Mostly kitchen scraps with a preference for meat. Bell birds and tuis quite common at bird feeder. At least 2 rabbits in the area. I must admit I quite like to see the odd one about. Not so the possum I have seen about a couple of times and – so far – have not been able trap. About all for now. Regards, Alastair. Bryan Riley Reports: No catches for May. David walks up the Fossil Steps reconstruction. Alison Nicholl Reports: May catches – 5 mice; 1 rat. I think my catches recorded are below what is actually caught – for example on the 11th I had at least 8 traps dragged to the far end of the tunnels but no visible sign of what was caught for the Weka to get hold of. The plastic trap you gave me to...
read more

April 2019

Will Reports:  Early in April more weed-eating and spraying was done in prep for planting later during the winter. Some work done in removing old green sleeves around older plants and clearing some of the service tracks too. The Hart Creek steps were completed and a start on replacing and sorting out the Fossil Steps; all this work being done by David Burt of KRB, and Kevin Piper, Bryan Riley & grandson Cole of the Gully Group. First it was lugging the timber in and then helping with the construction. A large flax clump was donated by Alison Nicholls, and after it was cut up, 50 smaller flax clumps were planted out with help from Kevin, and Karla. The flax are used for some wind protection besides providing food for the birdlife. During the last week of the month, Kevin and I planted about 50 – 55 native replacements all up at Grassy Saddle. We have lost some more trees even though a week ago they seemed to have survived the dry period. It appears that rimu, kahikatea and red beech don’t do to well on the dryer rocky parts. These species, plus the likes of totara and matai, have been planted among our plantings, using these as ‘fosters’ for the forest type trees that hopefully will grow up above them in time. Just like how it happens in the natural world. Thirteen rats caught this month, the most for quite awhile. I think most of the gully rats that are left are the courteous ones – You know, the type that says ‘You go first’. Up the gully and more work on the Fossil Steps. Another stage to sort out later. Then we installed a seat further up the track. This is Memorial Corner as, if you look up on the right going uphill, you will see a miro growing. This tree is in memory of June Clark and nearby is a totara, which is in memory of Jim Nicoll. Jim grew many totara plants for us over a number of years.  So stop and have a rest on the seat, and you won’t be lonely. Memory Seat. Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Total for the month: 4 rats & 3 hedgehogs. Quite a few wekas about. One I catch repeatably and let go again of course. Slow learner! Tuis & bellbirds all day at the bird feeder....
read more

March 2019

Alastair Mackintosh Reports: Hi Will. Better results this past month with 11 mice, 5 rats & 1 hedgehog. Family of quail still around with the seven “little bumble bees” now the size of their mother. Recent guests from France were amazed that they had been able to see such a variety of bird life so close to the Richmond CDB: quail, wekas, pigeons, tuis, bell birds, wax eyes, hawks, a pheasant, fan tails, plus the more common ones. And a rabbit on the front lawn. Alison Nicholl Reports: This month; 2 rats 1 mouse. Sad to see some dead shrubs after the BIG DRY! This week I did see some tiny green bits on the dead looking Silver Fern – so all is not lost. I have also seen and heard Tui, Bellbird, Fantail and blackbirds singing up there. Bryan Riley Reports: No catches for March. Whiteywoods ‘touched’ by the drought. Will Reports: Looks like the drought has broken at last and we can get back up the gully to continue our work. We certainly have lost a number of plants but it’s not as bad as we thought. Some of the larger beech trees have succumbed though which is disappointing.  A lot of releasing of plants have already done the last couple of weeks so a good start in readiness for replanting in a month or so.   One interesting thing is the number of Asian wasp nests that we have found inside the green spray guards. Some were found very close to another, sometimes less than a metre apart. Apparently no border disputes between them! Are they this plentiful due to the drought?   The photo shows a patch of Whiteywoods ‘touched’ by the drought but after the recent rain, some green shoots have appeared so maybe they will...
read more