The wind has shifted to the north after an extended period of southerlies and tonight feels warmer as a consequence. We have had some lovely days but the nights have been cold. Temperatures for August ranged from a minimum of 0C to a maximum of 15C. The first few days of September have seen temperatures creep up to 16C. As I write this blog we are at last enjoying some rain!! With the warmth of spring there has been a burst of growth in the bush with puawhananga (Clematis paniculata) now appearing all across the estate. Rangiora (Brachyglottis repanda) and manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) are in bloom while the first of the epiphytic brachyglottis (Brachyglottis kirkii var. kirkii) flowers have appeared.
Unfortunately stoats are also enjoying the spring weather. At Bruno and Barbara's we saw a stoat near the top of a pigeonwood (Hedycarya arborea). It ran vertically face-down the trunk with all the dexterity of a squirrel. The speed at which it moved reminded us of what destructive and efficient killers these animals are - in the canopy as well as on the ground. All we can do is keep trapping and hope that enough of our native birds survive to successfully raise young.
The kiwi report prepared by Patrick Stewart of Red Admiral Ecology concludes that we have a relic kiwi population on the estate of a few birds. It is highly unlikely that they will successfully raise offspring due to predation. Sadly, his opinion is that, without intervention, the mature birds will gradually die out - as has happened in so many parts of the Peninsula. It is possible that new birds could move into the estate but this is dependent upon successful breeding elsewhere coupled with an avoidance of predation on the journey from places such as Moehau, Whenuakite or Kuaotunu. Consequently, he concludes that if we wish to have kiwi on the estate then our best option is to explore the possibility of joining Operation Nest Egg (ONE). Becoming part of this exciting initiative would mean that any involvement from the estate would contribute to the Peninsula-wide attempt to save the Coromandel Kiwi. It would be contingent on us having at least one breeding pair. Any nesting would be closely monitored so that eggs could be removed and artificially incubated off site. The chicks would then be raised in a protected environment. I understand that there are plans to set up a breeding population of Coromandel Kiwi on the newly predator-free Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Once the young birds reach a size that they have a chance of survival against stoats and other predators then some of our birds could be reintroduced to Mahakirau to supplement the resident birds. This approach would depend on agreement from ONE, enthusiasm from Mahakirau lot owners as well as the presence of breeding birds on the estate. I will approach the relevant players and keep you informed of any developments. However, if you have any comments or views please let me know.
Finally, Judy saw and I heard Paradise Shelduck on the estate. These birds are usually seen on farmland or in coastal,wetland and river environments. No doubt they were passing through as there is very little suitable habitat here. Nonetheless it is good to record a new species for the estate.