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. Good to see. Had quite an interesting experience with one of the rats. Still feeding my little flock of quail, had thought for some time that I was perhaps also attracting rats. Watching them feeding one afternoon from inside my garage I saw that they became alarmed. Milling around while all looking in the same direction. “1 of “3 Years of hunting experience told me that there was something out of my line of sight that they did not like. Then a very large rat ran out from some cover, ate for a few seconds then returned. I knew it would be back, and while the quail calmed down and returned to feeding, I un-locked an air rifle and waited. In a few moments the quail again became alarmed looking in the same direction, then ran off when the rat appeared. It started eating right in my line of sight and all I had to do was to squeeze the trigger. Without touching it or stretching it out it measured 40 cm. Interestingly, it had a whitish look about it, especially the stomach region and I think perhaps it was crossed with an escaped white rat. Quite the biggest I have seen.

Bryan Riley Reports: Checked my traps earlier in the month and caught a rat. Checked them again 29th and caught two possums! A number of my tunnel traps had been set off and the odd one moved a meter or two? Also three of those traps had a lot of rat fur on them and the traps were at the opening end of the tunnel! I suspect a couple of resident Weka are to blame: i.e a rats tail hanging out the end of the tunnel is just too tempting for them!

Total Catches for April: 3 mice; 13 rats; 2 possums; 3 hedgehogs & 1 wasp nest.

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