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Thanks to an active intervention program, at Whangarei Heads we really do have kiwi in our backyard.

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July 5th, 2024

2024 June report

The BYK trapping year is July – June to coincide with our NRC funding.

Thank you to the rate payers funding this at 50c per property per week through the NRC Whangarei Heads High Value Area. Also a big thanks to Rolf Fuchs as our key NRC support person for this. See below for this year’s catch data and how it compares with previous years.

Kiwi Predator Control 

In unmanaged areas of New Zealand 95% of kiwi chicks are predated in their first 6 months of life, mainly by stoats.  Since 2002 we have been operating a kiwi predator trapping network over an approximate 8000ha area.

Big stoat caught recently

Although simple catch data is not the best way to monitor progress it is still worth looking at for changes and particularly any ripple effects that targeted pest control may be causing. So a couple points of interest:

This season’s 49 weasels is an all-time high, one possible reason for this is the ongoing removal of stoats through trapping and in particular controlled ground based kiwi saver/1080 bait station pulses which are super effective at cleaning out stoats, even sly trap shy ones.  Weasels are predated by stoats so less stoats can mean more weasels.  Weasels have a much smaller home range than stoats so we need far more traps and bait stations, closer together, to target them (which costs much more and isn’t justified for kiwi). Weasels eat plenty of insects and skinks etc so are also harder to target with toxins like kiwi saver which rely on rats eating the toxin in the first place.

It was also a record season for rats at 1,104 – these are a by-catch from our stoat traps.  It has been a good year for rats and with our bush producing more flowers and seeds than ever as it continues to recover from the bad old days of the 1990s there has been more food for them – also as the low possum numbers on the peninsula become even lower with the Whangarei Predator Free possum work rats can increase. Likewise if stoat numbers are down rats can benefit. To counter this is it great to see groups like Taurikura Ridge, Reotahi and Manaia Landcare increasing rat control efforts where they can.

You will also see the dropping hedgehog catch numbers – they have struggled in the past few years with super wet conditions at times and also regular hot, dry spells – neither suit hedgehogs. Maybe a very thin silver lining of climate change?

Annul Kiwi Count

Outcome monitoring is a far better way to look at the effectiveness of our pest control and dog control efforts than trap data.  This is why we do the annual Kiwi Count, but this is not as always as easy as you would think:

A short patch of good weather in the first counting period seemed to coincide with high kiwi calling activity but unfortunately only 10 of the 19 sites got the required 4 nights done – covid, weather and busy lives got in the way.  Kiwi counters are now trying to finish up the remaining nights at the other sites in the current second listening window but calls seem to have dropped off – probably as kiwi start nesting.  Data is slowly coming in for me to collate and the wonderful Fay to do all the data entry. We should have a summary of results in the next few weeks – remember so far kiwi count numbers have increased at the Heads from 80 in 2001 to over 1,100 last year. That is outcome monitoring showing success so far!


Northland Pest Control Workshop

This was a great event in a packed Okaihau Community Hall. Thanks to our hosts – particularly Jane and Roger Hutchings.  Great updates on local pest control projects with plenty of challenges and plenty of success too. There were also updates on the work on new automated AI traps and cameras. A big thanks to Ngaire and the Kiwi Coast team for organising and running it with NRC and Foundation North support.  Martin, James and Luke came up from the Heads to take part so if you are interested have a chat to them about it.

After many hours of tallying Ngaire announced the total pest catch results for Kiwi Coast affiliated groups; Drum roll please – the latest grand tallies are out!!! Last year alone, Northlanders trapped 136,646 pests – that’s 2,600 pests a week!

A huge positive impact (unless you are a pest) on Northland thanks to community driven pest control!

See videos of the workshop at:

Nga Tirairaka o Ngati Hine

At the Northland Pest Workshop Ahuriri Nihoniho and his team gave an update on the kiwi recovery work they are carrying out.   It was great to hear – but even better a week later I spent a day with Ahuriri, Pae and Sonny on one of their Motutau traplines to lend a hand.  They are working hard at quality trapping over a large area of bush and forestry, even better preparation for a controlled bait station pulse of kiwi saver is underway.  It was heartening to see and hear their commitment to their kiwi – and it needs to be remembered that all the kiwi that we are lucky enough to release at other Whangarei Kiwi recovery projects originate as chicks gifted from Ngati Hine. Thank you for that gift!

What the Backyard Kiwi monitored kiwi have been up to: Nesting is underway!

Whangarei Heads/Parua Bay  Radio monitored kiwi:   

  • Chookie– As of 27/6/24 he had been nesting 6 days in his usual area of pampas/pines/wetland south of Martins’ hut.  Owhiwa Road. 4.5 hours nightly activity, so settling in nicely.
  • Teina– He has continued to cruise up and down his valley of pampas and pines at the north end of Martins’ pine block. 11.5 hours nightly activity.
  • Beach Girl – She is still cruising the pampas at the top end of Teina’s valley, on the Martins’ and Halses’ blocks boundary between Owhiwa and Ross Roads.  Her nightly activity is 11.5 hours.
  • Murdoch – on the Halses’ block. He is closer to the Ross Road side than the end of Owhiwa Road where he nested last year.   12.5 hours activity.
  • Sandy – We got his last radio signal on 27/5/24 and have been listening hard for him since. Kerry has been listening all over Sandy’s usual block and I have swept way wider – meeting lots of local folks in my travels. Carl has also had a listen for us well to our north.  No signal anywhere.

For the past 4 months Sandy had previously stayed in an area only 500m wide so Kerry set up a trail camera where he had last been. It pretty quickly showed a male kiwi with a tx on his leg- highly unlikely to be any other txd kiwi- all  those anywhere near here were checked for location and they were well away from the camera.

So the bad news is that it looks like transmitter failure, the good news is that we know that he is safe  and will drop the tx when the band wears out. We can stop burning time looking for him and the even better news is the camera also picked up an un-txd adult female kiwi – so we can make a pretty good guess at why he has stayed put. If he hooks up with this girl they will have 50 years of breeding to add to the local population.

Sandy meets locals

Sandy out and about

  • Humphries– Still hanging on the NE side of the Martins’ block nearer Tauranui Road, 12 hours nightly activity. We carefully caught up with him when he was in a patch of rushes and did his tx change. Now 1925g, Poor-Mod condition and 100.9mm bill length (see pic). This compared with 1600g, Poor condition and 99.8mm bill on his release this time last year after a fantastic visit to Whangarei Heads School (see pic). He and an un-txed kiwi (female?) have also been seen separately on one of Kerry’s nearby trail cams.
  • Tanker– In his usual area of pampas just across the creek from his release spot.  12 hours activity.
  • Wally – Down in the pines/pampas/wetland by the estuary at the end of Campbell Road.  Down to 9.5 hours nightly activity so may be starting to nest.
  • Waewae– Unfortunately he dropped his transmitter in the pampas and weeds in the WDC Horse paddock at McLeods. His activity had been the usual 11-12 hours until the day the tx dropped on 7/6/24.
  • Manaaki–  Still cruising in the middle of Martins’ pine block on Owhiwa Road.  His nightly activity is 12 hours.

Kiwi that have walked to the Whareora Landcare area:

  • Fetu Mama – She has worked her way north from the NRC pine block to the Maungatika Reserve and is in the bush somewhere near the peak again.  12 hours nightly activity.
  • Te Motu Manu Hine –  In the NRC pine block behind the Money Factory.  11 hours nightly activity.

Kiwi that have walked to the Pataua North Landcare area:

  • Fish – Headed way north and PNLC now monitoring, but recently he has dropped off  Carl’s radar  so we are listening in case he works his way back south.
  • Kotahitanga– After his big walk to Pataua North  Carl from PNLC has continued to track him.

Purua ONE dads   Still all high activity and no nesting yet.

Rarewarewa/Purua ONE dads: 

  • Moondust– On bush face behind Lovells’ Irving road woolshed. 12 hours activity.
  •  Buddha – Usual area in the paddock just north of McGraths’ quarry.  12.5 hours of activity.
  •  Macio– On “Kauri Tree Ridge” in south Purua reserve.  11.5 hours activity
  • Otiria–  South end of the Purua Reserve near the big slip. 12.5 hours activity.
  • 64– Still in the paddock south of the reserve.  12 hours activity.
  • Tahi – Inside the eastern reserve boundary fence with Alisons’ farm.  13 hours of activity.
  • Rua – Up the back of Alisons’ farm.  12.5 hours activity.
  • Derek– On  “Stump” Ridge South-East Purua reserve.  13.5 hours activity.
  • Fletcher – In the northern end of Purua Reserve behind Lovells’ airstrip. 12 hours activity.
  • Sam– In the Hawkins’ paddock just SW of the reserve.  13.5 hours nightly activity.

Hopefully next month I can report that these guys are nesting

Cheers Todd

Todd Hamilton

Backyard Kiwi Project Manager

Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum

M 021 1145 385



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