October 2023 Newsletter

October 2023 Newsletter

Kakabeak and Threatened Plant Project
Kakabeak (clianthus puniceus) is critically endangered.  It is threatened with extinction in the wild - the last remaining plant was growing on Moturemu Island but has now died. For the last 10+ years the Motuihe Trust has been growing plants from seeds sourced from the Moturemu Island plant on Motuihe Island.
DOC has awarded the Motuihe Trust a community grant to attempt to establish 10 self-sustaining plots of kakabeak plants, and to eventually provide seeds and information to other conservation groups. The three-year grant includes funding to grow 27 other species of threatened plants on Motuihe Island.
We will be establishing a group of volunteers to assist with the growing and maintenance of the plants. This will include seed propagation, planting, monthly weed and pest control, data collection, and reporting. Full training will be provided.
People interested in being part of the Rare Plant team should contact rareplants@motuihe.org.nz.  Volunteers should be able to commit to a regular monthly water taxi visit to Motuihe.

Gas Fitter?
We need a gas fitter to replace the thermocouple in one of the stove elements, please contact operations@motuihe.org.nz if you know somebody who may be able to help.

Weeding leaders needed
We would love to hear from you If you are interested in receiving training to lead groups of volunteers to control the invasive weeds like moth plant and woolly nightshade. Please email Jill at Operations@motuihe.org.nz. She will give you all the details.

Fluttering Shearwater update
The fluttering shearwater programme continues to be a success with more birds and eggs each year. 

Lois took these photos this month. She saw 5 birds and 3 eggs.

Little Blue Penguins project begins
The Motuihe Island Little Blue Penguin Monitoring Team is excited to announce that we will soon begin our field research in collaboration with the New Zealand Penguin Initiative (NZPI) to contribute to the conservation and understanding of little blue penguins on Motuihe Island. Weather permitting, on the 12th of November, we will conduct our first penguin survey trip. Our primary objective is to locate and map little blue penguin burrows and nest boxes, utilizing video footage and 2020 survey data as valuable resources. Furthermore, we will be using an app set up by NZPI, which will allow us to seamlessly collect data on the penguins, and this data will also be uploaded to a national database.
For further details or inquiries, please contact our team members: Elena Miller (LBP Monitoring Team Lead) at elena.miller@ecologynz.nz and James Roberts (LBP Monitoring Team Lead) at james.roberts@ecologynz.nz.

Dotterel project report
The New Zealand Dotterel is a shorebird unique to New Zealand that can be regularly found on Motuihe’s shores. This summer, a newly formed dotterel monitoring team will be taking a closer look at our dotterels and their nesting behaviours. During our October surveys, we observed at least four pairs of dotterels on Ohinerau Bay, with some birds sporting a rich orange plumage indicative of the breeding season. Dotterels nest on our beaches and you can help keep them safe by maintaining a healthy distance and checking where you walk to make sure you don't accidentally stand on their nests.
If you do see any dotterels, we will be excited to hear about your sightings via operations@motuihe.org.nz - please check for leg bands if they are present as this helps us to identify birds.

Sunday 1st October The Red Boat

Cancelled due to high winds on the wharf.

Sunday 8 October The Red Boat
1 October was transferred to the 8th and again cancelled due to high winds.

Thursday 12 October Dreamweaver
Teams from Icebreaker (38) and Nokia (11) joined Phil, Jill, Frances, Doris and Simon on the Dreamweaver. Lois and Colin joined via Graeme’s boat and here’s how it went down:
Track Report:
A fantastic effort from the 14 volunteers working on the 'Return' track.  A wee rewarding milestone for them in that we reached the wooden seat viewpoint which looks out over the wetland area/Ocean Beach through to Rakino Island. Thanks to the guys for clearing the plantlife and weeds away from the seat.  A nice touch and an opportunity to enjoy a great island and sea view before heading back to the woolshed for lunch.  Such enthusiasm and energy makes supervision so much easier.  The team appreciated their efforts when they walked back through the cleared 130 metres of track.  Great to hear comments 'we'll be back next year'.  Approx 150 metres still to go on the Return track to meet up with the 'cleared' section.  Nokia and Icebreaker have thrown down the gauntlet to the upcoming Corporate groups!
A windy bumpy trip back in Graeme's boat ended the day.  Dreamweaver left us for dust!!  Thanks Graeme for your brilliant boating skills and getting us back to OBC safe and sound.
Lois Badham

The Nokia and Icebreaker team that worked with Lois on track clearing. (photo by Lois)

The return track before the work done on the 12th.

The return track after lots of hard work.

Nursery Report:
Thank you to Jill and her new recruit Melissa for their participation. The activities included the final repositioning of plants within B block and the shade house. Weeding in B block and  progressing through the pricking out of the remaining seed trays.
Pricked out:502 plants including kahikatea, kanuka and rimu with other plants rebagged up to PB 3s,
Weeding Report:
Graeme and Colin took a weeding team up the stream bed from the late whero’s tree home and got stuck into a decent moth/wooly area. Successful mission and thanks to Graeme for sorting and oiling the tools when we got back.  Simon and Frances took a team to the far end of the Tieke extension track where woolies are big and moth numerous. Made a decent dent in the problem but further trips to that spot will be needed. 

Dotteral Report:
Sian joined us for the day and headed around the island counting dotterals. 
We ended with a lovely evening trip back to Auckland back at pier Z safe and sound.
Simon Sheen

Friday 13 October Dreamweaver
Friday 13th lucky for some, as we had a pod of dolphins join us on the way out which was a real treat for the teams from Bayleys, EY, Auckland Council, Centuria and White Cloud (foreign students).
Track Clearance (Lois):
Another fantastic effort from Akl Council Civil Defence, Centuria , overseas students et al.
The work challenge from the day before with Nokia and Icebreaker was well and truly picked up by this team with a massive 320m of track clearing completed. Wow - what an amazing achievement over the two days (nearly 1/2 kilometre).
The Return Track is now fully completed.  A small amount of work for the track down to the pumphouse building to finish this off as well.  A huge thanks to the corporate groups for their enthusiasm and work efforts with the track clearing.  They've been amazing volunteers to work beside and.appreciate getting away from their office and seeing physical change on the island. The feedback from them has been great with promises of return trips. 
Nursery work (Phil, Melissa and Jill):
Pricked out: 450 Puriri   ( this is an estimate and I will confirm next visit ) 
This is close to the end of the pricking out for the season although as I write I realise we are waiting on 200+  5 finger to grow roots sufficiently strong to prickout.
Casting an eye over the figures we have some impressive numbers that will be ready for next season:
Nearly 3000!
Took a back seat to the excellent track and nursery work. We still managed to take out a good collection of woolies and some moth some metres off the newly cleared track.
No dolphins on the way home but all 55 of us came back in sunshine safe and sound.
Simon Sheen

Simon's photo of a dolphin taken from Dreamweaver.

Moth plant pod collection winners Sunday October 15
Phil Francis and Frances Billot were the Motuihe guides for the Eastern schools' winners of a moth plant pod collection competition run by  Pest Free Howick. The schools involved were Cockle Bay, Wakaaranga, Elim, Howick, Point View, MacLean's, Botany Downs, Sunnyhills, Pakuranga Heights and Farm Cove. A mix of primary, Intermediate and Secondary schools. They travelled from the Maritime Museum to Calypso Bay on 4 classic yachts, Frances, Thelma, Ethel and Waitangi. The students were asked to fill in a feedback form saying what they learned and what their new action would be. Some examples are: I learned the difference between toi toi and pampus (guess who showed them) and I am not going to waste my food scraps. I learned that Tuatara are thriving on Motuihe and I am going to pull out all the weeds in my back yard. 
They all had a great day. 

The group on Calypso Bay, photo by Phil.

Reptile monitoring training and grid maintenance weekend 14-15 October
We took out a team of 17 keen volunteers, 8 of whom were new to the reptile team. The maintenance and training tasks seemed overwhelming for the time we had but the combined talents of our experienced leaders and our new young ecologists ensured that both Raukawa and the Duv/Pacific grids were fully prepared for the December survey and we had time to trial some other monitoring project work.
Raukawa Grid (south-west of Bald Knob)
Thanks to the GPS/map skills and sheer determination of our 5 teams we found, cleared, replaced rotten ACO’s and flagged, 58 stations of the grid which will enable us to sample, in December, right to the perimeter of the original grid that was installed by Dylan and Matt(Bioresearches) in 2017. Every team had the chance to practise their species ID and counting of adults versus juveniles when they encountered large social groups of Raukawa geckos under the ACO’s (see photo.)
Duvaucel/Pacific Grid (adjacent to Tieke track.)
Again, our 5 teams pushed to the perimeter of our original grid, replacing ACO’s and many of the damaged Cell Foam Covers(CFC’s). We were delighted to discover lots of young Duvaucel geckos in areas that seemed hardest hit by Cyclone Gabrielle(lots of tree fall). Our “star team” also managed to set up 3 new stations which follow the apparent dispersal of Duvaucel geckos along the coast towards the woolshed. We are collating some of the excellent photos taken by our teams so that we have further resources to aid the difficult task of distinguishing neonate Duvaucels from sub-adult and adult Pacific geckos during our annual survey.
Other monitoring project work:
At night:
Tyson and Christine led a group of spotlighters through Disaster Gully at the earlier time of 8.30pm and on their return through Tieke track. The earlier time seemed beneficial, spotting higher numbers of wētāpunga per hour and some potentially, mating pairs. On Tieke track, the skilled eye of Kate Feickert (Bioresearches ecologist) spotted a Pacific Gecko on a pohutukawa and a large hind leg(amputated), from an adult wētāpunga. Helen led a trial tuatara spotlight search through Tieke track at about 8.30pm. 7 different tuatara were spotted.
Jill led a group from our dotterel and penguin teams on a recce of Ohinerau and Calypso beaches. On Ohinerau, the group recorded 6 banded dotterels and 6 unbanded while finding 3 of the chick shelters.
Jackie’s group of penguin burrow hunters, discovered an adult wētāpunga near the release site at the bottom of Von Luckner’s bush.
Accommodation for a large team:
Six of us tented on the grass north of the woolshed and got to enjoy a lovely dawn chorus.
Thanks to Cleone’s power pack and lights, we coped well without any power. We were treated with Jackie’s beautiful carrot cake and for the first time we got to share a hugely divine rhubarb, apple and blueberry crumble that Chris just whipped up.
I can’t wait for this team to re-assemble for our official gecko survey, December 9-10.
Julie Thomson.


Raukawa gecko snuggle under ACO photo Hong Yao

Neonate Duvaucel gecko photo Jill Soufflot