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Environment

The Great Kereru Count

Its not too late to join in the last week of the last ever Kereru Count

This is the last year of the Great Kererū Count. After this, there will be eight years of data which will provide a scientifically robust understanding of trends, and on how best to help kererū.

Tony Stoddard of Kererū Discovery, who coordinates the Count, says that community participation over the last seven years has been a privilege to be part of.

Stoddard, who is a passionate advocate for kererū, encourages everyone to take part in the final count down. “Over the last seven years there has been a total of 52,034 observations, and 119,910 kererū counted. For this final count, it’s important that as many people as possible join in. It’s super easy, good for you, and good for kererū.”

Kererū only live in Aotearoa New Zealand, are protected birds, and tāonga to many. Once there were large flocks of kererū, and now they are mostly seen singly or in small numbers perching on trees or overhead wires. Kererū are critical in keeping native forests growing because they are the only way that seeds of large native trees like tawa, taraire, hinau and miro are dispersed.

Dr Stephen Hartley, Director of the Centre for Biodiversity & Restoration Ecology at Victoria University of Wellington, says that last year there was a 50% increase in sightings from 2019.

“Despite this, there is a worrying recent report from the NZ Bird Atlas that numbers may be declining in the South Island. The Great Kererū Count is about New Zealand working together as community scientists to gain a better understanding of kererū so we can help them thrive. Whether you see any kererū or not, sharing observations is helping us get a great picture of where kererū live, their abundance, and most importantly how best to protect them.

From the data we already have, we know that some of the best ways people can help kererū in their community is by planting trees like kowhai which is the most common tree people have seen kererū feeding on.”

Dr Hartley also expects to see the importance of pest control for boosting kererū numbers. Kererū lay a single egg which is very vulnerable to being eaten by rats, possums and stoats.

Although this is the last year of the Great Kererū Count, Kererū Discovery will continue so that people can keep sharing their stories and encounters and continue to build a shared understanding of kererū. Analysis of the eight years of data will be completed by Sam Rammell a post-graduate student at Victoria University of Wellington.

The Great Kererū Count is a collaborative project led by Urban Wildlife Trust & Kererū Discovery together with partners Wellington City Council, Dunedin City Council/City Sanctuary, Nelson City Council and Victoria University of Wellington.

 

Wasp Blitz Weekend 2022 Funding Success

Off the back of increasing complaints about the wasps in summer, the Waiatarua R&R are very happy to announce the local board have given us funding for a joint project with Oratia R&R to decrease the wasp population out here.

The funding allows us to train up to 10 volunteers who will work together to place bait stations on up to 80 properties. The bait (Vespex, a low-toxicity insecticide, which targets the yellow jacket Vespula vulgaris species) is taken back to, and kills the queen, which collapses the colony. This blitz will be carried out over one weekend as it needs to be done all at once, so colonies don’t simply “find another queen”. In addition we are aiming for late summer as this is the best feeding time and means wasps won’t have time to build up another colony before the cold weather sets in. Fingers crossed the blitz should allow more of us to head outdoors into our backyards and wander through the bush without coming under attack from yellow jackets.

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Every Litter Bit Helps

Waiatarua residents Alex (aged 9) and Torres (aged 8), pictured right, went for a walk down Bush Rd recently and were shocked by how much rubbish there was. They subsequently went and collect-ed all the rubbish they could find. These young boys are taking their roles of protecting and looking after the environment in our neigh-bourhood very seriously and are to be commended for their ef-forts. Well done!

Biocontrol for tradescantia

Rita is so excited to see the Biocontrol for tradescantia has made its way to the Waitakeres with the Ecomatters team spotting them on Bush road! This little beetle from South America has been vigorously tested to ensure it
won’t do damage to anything other than tradescantia (which is also from that region). So hopefully you will see some nibbles out of yours!!

Remember tradescantia does well on the edges of the bush so as your weed gets eaten by the beetle a new clearing will be created – perfect for other plant growth (often another type of weed). If you plant it with a native you will have less weeding to do long term.

Have a look at her plant of the month for an option.

You will find a link the Landcare Research The Biological Control of Weeds book HERE

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New Pest Free Alliance Formed

Pest free groups working in the Waitakere Ranges heritage area have formed an alliance to support and facilitate their work. Called Pest Free Waitakere Ranges, the alliance seeks to improve the impact and effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in the Waitakere Ranges by supporting the efforts of groups and networks working here, which number at least a hundred.

PFWR does not profess to represent these groups; rather, its role is to provide support and facilitation. These groups are working hard in innovative and committed ways but their potential impact can be increased with collective advantage. PFWR plan to identify gaps where restoration activities can be enhanced and to support all these groups to contribute to Waitakere Ranges wide initiatives.

A committee has been formed to guide the Alliance’s work, a member of which is ex-WRRA President, Peter Casey. Accountability to Waitakere Ranges groups and networks working in the Waitakere Ranges will be via quarterly meeting, the first of which will be held on Sunday 10 November at a venue yet to be fixed.

Contact pestfreewaitakereranges@gmail.com for more information.