On the night of the 5th of April 2020 I noticed emergency services lights at Point England. Today I counted three areas of previously un-mowed grass on the south-eastern end that had been burnt and two partially forested areas on the northern end. The fires look like intentional arson to me, with drought conditions over hopefully we wont see any more burning. I’m very disappointed to loose some of the trees I planted. Damage to fences (including an area removed by emergency services) needs to be fixed before the dotterel breeding season begins (Auckland Council reference: 8110308091). I’m grateful to emergency services for managing the fire risk and to the mowers who have kept the tinder dry grass very short.
Today I took photos of the shorebird roosts at Tahuna Torea when the tide had just covered the main spit roost. The tide height was predicted to be very high today (3 August 2019) at 3.4M Westhaven 8:53am. Conditions were relatively calm and the tide had not (yet) hit the high tide line on the Little spit.
I have seen tidal debris in the mangroves around Lockley Island that were above the height of the island (indicating that it sometimes gets swamped) but I think it would have made an ok roost today.
I have been helping Forest & Bird campaign for the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari marine spatial plan. I talk about some of the work I am doing in the Gulf here.
After the fire on Browns Island, lots of noxious weeds took hold. Although it looked like the crater was going to be dominated by bracken the weeds are winning. Black nightshade is dominant and there are thousands of woolly nightshades coming up, some as large as 1 meter wide already. Inkweed, apple of sodom and boneseed are also sitting up above the kikuyu.
Click for high res 360° image of the crater
I casually pulled up about 100 mullien but did not make a noticeable impact. Most disturbing was this animal dropping I found on a large mullien leaf.
When I first heard about erosion in the Hunua Ranges causing havoc for Auckland’s water supply I wondered if it was because of recent deforestation. Drone footage shot by Watercare confirmed that theory for me (see stills below from this video). It seems strange media are not talking about it. To me it looks like just another case of our water being compromised for private profit.
A little bird told me Watercare own the land and were in the midst of replanting it with natives – it would be good to know the full details. I will email them.
(2,089-72 = 2017) So sometime in 2017 they decided to start harvesting. But the wood in the pictures looks at least months old. My guess is the harvesting that caused the contamination was done in 2016 for private profit. Hard to tell from the information received. Awaiting a report with interest.
One of the hardest aspects of restoring and maintaining native habitat is weed control. Cliff faces are the most expensive often requiring carrying heavy loads to remote places and abseiling or a helicopter. Today I watched as DOC, Motuihe Trust and Yamaha trailed spraying pampas from an unmanned helicopter. The RMAX helicopters are piloted by remote control and used in a wide range of industrial and research applications overseas. The trial was a success and the team have plans to further improve the precision of the technology.
Just after the fire was put out on Browns Island I kayaked over to check on the shorebirds. I went for a short walk and was quite upset by the damage done to the reptiles.
The rest of my photos here. Hopefully some good comes out of it.
UPDATE 30 DECEMBER 2016:
Six weeks later the grass has largely rejuvenated, however without the smothering grass, many seeds that lay dormant in the soil have germinated. Most of the new arrivals are invasive weeds, I saw wooly nightshade, apple of Sodom boneseed and moth plant. However the center of the crater is more interesting. From under the rocks bracken has emerged (how long could it have waited there?) and I think the reptiles will enjoy the extra cover.