Pāteke Updates from Te Henga

May 2016

  Mother pāteke and her four ducklings, May 2016 (Photo Jeremy Painting)

Another milestone for Habitat te Henga with the first definite sightings of pāteke ducklings. Having 80 pateke released in January this year has meant pāteke are being seen more often but still with difficult and limited access to the wetland from only a few properties or the ponds within Forest & Bird’s Matuku reserve, these sightings are still occasional. Seeing a family of four on the river then was a special thrill for Jeremy Painting, one of our volunteers, who waited patiently in a kayak before getting the vital photographs.  With no evidence yet of predation of the 20 transmitter carrying birds from this years release and 18 birds still in the general area it seems that our predator control measures are holding out. Other wetland species are benefitting it seems, as fernbird and spotless crake are being seen or heard more often.  Additionally the first sightings of whitehead at the Society’s reserve occurred in the same week as the pāteke ducklings were observed. These whiteheads would have made their way via the forest corridor from the Ark in the Park only 2km away at its nearest point.  Tomtits that had not been seen at Matuku have also made their way and are now breeding at the reserve so the benefits of  pest control in the larger area are evident although one final part of the corridor has no pest control. The purchase of this property would not only decrease the risk of the passage of bush birds from the Ark to Matuku and Habitat te Henga but also would  allow pāteke, crakes and fernbirds to disperse back toward the Ark.

Other wetland species such as spotless crake (photo Wade Heasman) are also benefitting from the predator control.

   

 

22 January 2016

80 pateke were released at Habitat Te Henga.  This video by the Herald Online Team gives a great overview of this wonderful day and the work that went into enabling it.

Rare NZ Bird relocated to new home - NZ Herald Online

 

June 2015

Ngaro  is- fickle; loyal; undecided; forgetful; bewildered...? Choose any  of these because Ngaro, the pateke who went off on a  jaunt five days after her release at te Henga and stayed away for 154 
days and returned  only to leave again after  some weeks, is now  back. She brings our tally of surviving pateke to 17,  a healthy 85%  of the original group 43 weeks from the release date. She may have 
lots of company next year  as the second group to be released may be  sixty or more! Photo by J. Painting.

14 November 2015

There are 17 signals that our monitor Heidrun picked up at the wetland. There had been 15 for a while but one bird returned after an absence of 7 weeks. Another early departee has again returned after many months away bringing us back to 85% survival.

But yes we have had some losses. There have been 2 dead birds found and one presumed dead although its transmitter was pinging away under 1.5 metre of dark swamp water. Sometimes a harness holding the transmitter breaks prematurely and this might be so in this case but unless we get scuba gear to search we’ll not know. One retrieved pāteke skeleton was sent to DOC and the report indicated no predation by cat, stoat or ferret but there was a broken tarsus bone so a possibility here is that the bird was hit by a car while attempting to cross the road and managed to fly back to the swamp before finally dying there. If that is so then as our DOC advisor said, the pest control is holding up. Losses are expected in translocations and success will be having 40% or more living after 12 months and we are currently still at 85%.

On our recent hunt for the pāteke mentioned above, the signal emanated from across the big pond that was recently part of the Salvinia spraying. This posed a dilemma as we need to find any dead pāteke to try and determine the cause of death that in turn, might guide our pest control efforts. MPI realized our need for information though and thankfully gave permission to kayak across after which we trudged and waded through 70m of raupo finally finding the body. Afterwards we washed the kayaks with algicidal solution to avoid any possible spread.

While we get reports of trap catches from several people who tend smaller numbers of traps, Matt who services 95 traps in his two long circuits, reports fortnightly after his rounds and to date this year he has trapped 24 stoats; 36 weasels, 2 ferrets, 2 feral cats  and 140 rats.

Our contractor Heidrun uses her antenna to scan for the signals from a few sites along Bethell’s or te Aute Ridge Roads and recently we purchased a very expensive receiver that is far more accurate and sensitive so we get a better idea of where the transmitter signals are coming from. She is now gaining an idea of which drakes are constantly near which ducks so it seems that pairs are forming - might we see ducklings in spring?

Other birds are undoubtedly protected by the trapping. A formal survey for fernbird compared their territory numbers at the Matuku Society's reserve where predator control has been happening for 15 years, with two others sites that have been trapped for 18 months. Our first spotless crake survey using playback was conducted at Matuku and compared with other sites over summer, while a bittern sound recording study will be happening in late November. 

John Sumich

16 June 2015

As of yesterday there are still 16 signals that our monitor Heidrun picked up at the wetland. There had been 15 for a while but one bird returned after an absence of 7 weeks. Another early departee has not returned but with some birds returning after long intervals who knows what will happen. At the recent pateke release on Motutapu Island it seems some of their pateke have gone beyond reception area
and Motutapu has only large swimming pool sized ponds to hide in!

But yes we have had some losses. There have been 2 dead birds found and one presumed dead although its transmitter was pinging away under 1.5 metre of dark swamp water. Sometimes a harness holding the transmitter breaks prematurely and this might be so in this case but unless we get scuba gear to search we’ll not know. One retrieved pateke was sent to DOC and the report indicated no predation by cat, stoat or ferret but there was a broken tarsus bone so a possibility here is that the bird was hit by a car while attempting to cross the road and managed to fly back to the swamp before finally dying there. If that is so then as our DOC advisor said, the pest control is holding up. Losses are expected in translocations and success will be having 40% or more living after 12 months and we are currently still at 80%. 

On our recent hunt for the pateke mentioned above, the signal emanated from across the big pond that was recently part of the Salvinia spraying. This posed a dilemma as we need to find any dead pateke to try and determine the cause of death that in turn, might guide our pest control efforts. MPI realized our need for information though and thankfully gave permission to kayak across after which we trudged and waded through 70m of raupo finally finding the body. Afterwards we washed the kayaks with algicidal solution to avoid any possible spread.

While we get reports of trap catches from 2 or 3 people who tend smaller numbers of traps, Matt who services 95 traps in his two long circuits, reports fortnightly after his rounds and to date this year he has trapped 24 stoats; 26 weasels, 1 ferret and 86 rats. For the mustelids [stoats, ferrets, weasels] this is almost the same as the total for last year and we are only 6 months down! Anyone who has been looking after just a few traps on their place please let me know if you catch pests; if you need help or if the effort is too much to sustain. Particularly over these next lean months the pests will be more in need of prey and out hunting so continued efforts to catch them are necessary.

You may have seen Heidrun with her antenna scanning for the signals from a few sites along Bethell’s or te Aute Ridge Roads and recently we purchased a very expensive receiver that is far more accurate and sensitive so we get a better idea of where the transmitter signals are coming from. She is now gaining an Read the full report (PDF).