Only a month after starting the Puangiangi project, we were aware of abundant feeding sign on flaxes there, most likely due to flax weevil. In Autumn 2013 consultant ecologist Geoff Walls, possibly escaping my snoring, made a night-time expedition and came back with the definitive photos of flax weevil. It’s nice to know they hung on during the rat years, and that they are now obviously abundant. We are gratified the island is suitable for macroinvertebrates also, and don’t plan on overlooking them. We are also on the lookout for ngaio weevils, which would be a find. Who knows what may have persisted?
Photo courtesy Geoff Walls, Taramoa Limited.
In the early 1990s, kea were surveyed in the 6000 hectares around Lake Rotoiti, and there were 11 breeding pairs producing an average of 10 fledglings per year. By 2010, a survey over an expanded 13,000 hectares turned up only two breeding pairs. This is a classic problem with territories and total areas too large for affordable pest control. It’s quite reminiscent of the situation with whio/blue duck, where many km of trap lines are required to protect the range of a single pair. DOC’s Grant Harper and David Rees wanted to try localised pest control around nest sites: find the nests each season and move in with a perimeter of traps.
We bought some traps for the project, and nests were located and monitored with video cameras. In 2011 two of the three nests were cleaned out by possums. It was a similar story in 2012, with stoat predation being observed. This is not a happy outcome, but the idea is a good one and the team will keep trying, with help from a strong local conservation group, to stop another local extinction of kea.
Photo credit: Corey Mosen, DOC