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All the news from Project Janszoon
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April 2016

The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust’s trapping work on Pitt Head has produced such great results robin will be returned to the mainland at the end of April.
 
The ATBT’s Allan Barker has been leading the trapping network over 130ha from Pitt Head to Watering Cove for the last few years, using the A24 gas powered traps.  February marked a third consecutive month of low rat tracking, with tracking at 2.5%, representing one rat tracked on the edge of the trapping network.
 
ATBT chair Kim McGlashen says the trapping has now reduced rats to a level where it is believed a robin translocation from Motuareronui Adele Island will be successful.
 
“This is the culmination of two to three years hard work by Allan Barker and his team and they have produced the results and proved the A24 trapping system.  It is exciting to think we can finally bring back robin to the mainland,” he says.
 
The ATBT re-introduced robin to predator free Motuareronui Adele Island in 2009 and the birds have done so well some have already flown the short distance to Fisherman Island to colonise it as well.  Robin have not been seen for years along the Abel Tasman coast because of predation but you can still see them at higher altitudes.
 
The robin transfer is due to take place on Saturday 30 April and will be run by the ATBT with support from DOC and Project Janszoon.  “Huge credit must go to the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust volunteers for all their work maintaining the trap lines on Pitt Head to allow this transfer to happen,” says Project Janszoon Ornithogist Pete Gaze.
In this issue
  • Robin to Pitt Head
  • More kaka to be released
  • Wasp control results
  • Richardson Stream and its royal connection
  • Education update
  • Celebrating volunteers Ken & Janet George
  • Problem plants
  • Video vault
Ruth Bollongino has joined the Project Janszoon team as our Scientific Consultant.  

To find out more about Ruth click here
Four more female kaka are due to be released into the Park in April, after the first release of four birds late last year.
 
The birds are part of the captive breeding programme and will come from Dunedin,
Invercargil and Te Anau.  They were transferred to the Wainui aviary on April 5 and are currently being looked after by volunteers who visit daily.  They will be released at the end of the month.
 
“April is a good time to release the birds as there are still native berries and other food sources around.  We know we still have kaka in the area so that will also help anchor the new birds to the area around the aviary at the top of the Park,” says Project Janszoon aviculturist Rosemary Vander Lee.
 
Two of the kaka released last year are still seen around the aviary.  The older female has been tracked to a hinau tree in Takaka that was laden with berries and we are not sure whether she is basing herself there or going back and forth between the Park.  The fourth bird was found dead around three weeks after release and an autopsy diagnosed lead poisoning.
 
Work by DOC to source kaka with genetics from the Nelson Lakes area has seen three kaka chicks now being raised at Natureland with plans for them to become part of the captive breeding programme.  Ron Moorhouse and DOC biodiversity ranger John Henderson retrieved the kaka from three nests in the Nelson Lakes area, leaving siblings in all nests to be raised in the wild.
 
New student advisory board
 
We kicked off the year with our new student advisory board members in February at a 3-day retreat at Waiharakeke.
 
These student leaders play an important role as ambassadors for the Adopt a Section programme.  Education advisor Wendy Reeve says this year the retreat had a triple focus: team building, leadership skill development and growing nature expertise.
 
“We talked a lot about team building across schools, communication and goal setting and building our expertise in the natural world,” she says.  "Working with these passionate and enthusiastic students is incredibly rewarding.  They are eager to learn and grow - and they want to share and inspire others.  Watch this space as each team is planning to run events for the community at their sites this year and everyone is definitely invited."
 
The board also spent time doing hands-on learning about native fish, explored the varied ecosystems around Waiharakeke and over to Pound Creek, and learned about native rongoa, or medicinal plants, of the park.  The last day they invited some special guests from DOC and Project Janszoon to help them in action-taking by installing some protection around several juvenile rata trees that were being eaten by deer and possum.

Front row to back Iris Garbutt, Noah Harewa, Rosie Brown and Jack Haldane, Joe Ogle and Rhys Nesbit, Hana Mason and May Takahashi, Joe Cunningham, Conor Kennedy and Dallas Bradley

Education update
 
It is not just classes like geography, biology, science and outdoor education that are engaging with the Abel Tasman through our Adopt a Section education programme.  This year graphics students are also using the environment for inspiration.
 
A year long design project is being undertaken by Y12 and 13 students at Motueka High School for NCEA credits.  The 21 students are looking at designing things as diverse as a bird watching platform, a wetland walkway, rubbish bins, a trap, fireplace, and an information kiosk.  They have been talking to DOC rangers about structural requirements like load capacity and you never know - some of the designs may end up being put to use in the Abel Tasman.  It is hoped their work can be showcased at the end of the year.
 
Motupipi Primary School is currently planning for an all school visit to their section at Wainui sandspit and they are reviewing a restoration plan that was written for them at the request of their 2015 student leadership team.  Golden Bay High School biology students (pictured) have already earned level 2 credits collecting and analysing data at Hadfield Clearing this year, and literacy students will be undertaking study at their site as the year progresses.

The buzz on wasp control
 
The wasp control operation undertaken in February has had an excellent impact on wasp numbers.
 
DOC carried out the control programme along 46km of the Coast Track, 736 ha at Falls River and around 17 campsites and four huts. The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust also controlled 110 ha at Pitt Head. The work was funded by Project Janszoon and the Abel Tasman Foreshore Scenic Reserve Fund.
 
Wasp nests were monitored one week, and then one month, after the Vespex® control programme.   Results in the Falls River block showed 60% of monitored nests killed within a week, and 80% after a month.  Along the Coast Track 75% of nests were killed in a week, and 88% after a month.
 
DOC’s Biodiversity Ranger John Henderson (pictured) says visitors to the Park walking the coastal track are not coming across wasps.  “We used a single line of bait stations along the coastal track and it is great to see it was so effective with 88% of monitored nests killed within a month.  That has a real impact on visitor enjoyment and we had good honeydew results as well which impacts on native wildlife,” he says.
 
DOC also monitors honeydew by counting the number of droplets on a beech tree in a 50cm by 5cm quadrat plot.  Results show the average number of droplets improved from 4 to 16 within a month of the control programme.  As wasps have no natural predators they compete with native birds, insects and honey bees for honeydew.
Problem plants and what to look for
 
Project Janszoon and the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust are asking for help identifying problem plants and weeds in the Park.  We are currently targeting what we call the “filthy fourteen” made up of two different types.
 
Garden Escapees have spread from either the historic settlement sites or private land enclaves and jumped the fence to take hold in the Park.  These include Grevillea, Wandering Willie, Cotoneaster, Holly, Chilean rhubarb (pictured), Periwinkle, Wattle and English Ivy.
 
Long-Distance Invaders are capable of travelling long distances, either through very lightweight seeds that can be spread by wind, or fruits that are carried by birds.  These include Douglas fir, Old man’s beard, Banana passionfruit, Buddleia, Pampas and Yellow Jasmine
 
Click here to find out more about each species and how you can help control them.
 
The kakariki are chattering
 
Visitors to the top of the Park are reporting regularly hearing kakariki after 16 more birds were released in February.
 
38 kakariki have now been released from the Wainui aviary over the last two years.
 
“There was plenty of beech seed around for the release and I am hearing them chattering in greater numbers each time I walk into the aviary so know they are doing well,” says Project Janszoon aviculturist Rosemary Vander Lee.
 
Four aviaries in the Nelson / Marlborough region are now breeding kakariki for release in the Abel Tasman and it is likely more birds will be released in Spring.
 
You can watch a short video of the latest release here.
Awaroa and Torrent Bay internet access
 
We are pleased to see the pay-per-use internet access at Torrent Bay and Awaroa is proving popular.  Access is via hotspots at both Wilsons Abel Tasman lodges and above the airstrip at Awaroa so while the network does not reach all baches you can access it nearby.  If you do wish to have permanent access on your property Groundtruth can advise costs for a relay.  Contact us and we will put you in touch with them.
 
To access the internet search for wireless links on your device when you are at Torrent Bay or Awaroa. The cost is $5 a day, $25 a week or $50 for 30 days use inclusive of GST.  These funds will help towards restoration projects in the Park.

People of the Park


Ken and Janet George 
Pohara residents Ken and Janet George are recreational birders and keen conservationists whose hobby has lead to an important bird sighting for the Abel Tasman.
 
Last autumn Ken and Janet were birding in a favourite area of beech forest on the road to Totaranui near Pigeon Saddle.   Janet spotted four small bright canary-yellow birds that were busy getting insects from the branches of the beech trees.  The pair identified them as mohua or yellowhead– a nationally vulnerable bird that was last seen in the Park in the early 1980s.
 
“The only other bird it could have been was a yellowhammer and it was not yellowhammer country.  They were very wary and kept their distance so I whipped out my play-back and played the mohua call.  They came back and watched us for a while,” says Ken.
 
Coincidently the couple did the Blue Pool walk near Haast Pass a few weeks later where mohua are present due to DOC’s predator control.  Ken used his play-back again and within seconds three birds, that looked exactly the same as the ones they saw in the Abel Tasman, appeared.
 
Project Janszoon ornithologist Pete Gaze says it is a wonderful to hear of the sighting.
 
“Mohua are a bit like the canary in the coalmine for the Abel Tasman as they are particularly vulnerable to predators.  Once we feel we have possums, stoats and rats under control we would love to bring back them back to the Park so this is an encouraging sighting, although we are not at the stage of reintroducing them yet,” he says.
 
Ken has the film industry to thank for his interest in birding.  He worked as a stills photographer for 30-years which meant he was often in remote locations where there were long periods of time when he wasn’t required on set.  He grabbed some binoculars and started bird watching.
 
“It is a fantastic hobby and also good for you.  Birding is part of my aging well strategy, I don’t play golf or bowls, I go birding.  I turn 65 later this year so I’ll officially be joining John Key’s birding team,” Ken laughs.
 
After regularly holidaying in Golden Bay Ken and Janet moved from Wellington to Pohara in 2009 for a better lifestyle.  “It was the time of the global financial crisis and we thought why not.  Janet is a professional conference organiser so she can work from anywhere and I assist her and still do a bit of professional photography as well.
 
We have been in Pohara seven years and are now seeing weka coming back.  It will be fantastic to have kaka and kea overfly the house and I believe it’s only a matter of time before that happens,” says Ken.
 
Three years ago Ken joined the local Forest and Bird committee and that has seen him volunteer on a variety of conservation projects in Golden Bay.  He helps out with OSNZ wader counts on Farewell Spit and assists with bird counts on the traplines in the Cobb Valley.  Just a few weeks ago he saw a family of four whio in the Cobb Valley which was a first for him.  Like many other volunteers Janet and Ken have also helped out Project Janszoon and DOC by keeping an eye on the kaka that have been transferred to Wainui Aviary before release into the Park.
 
“The Project Janszoon initiative is brilliant, part of the mosaic of getting New Zealand back to how it used to be.  I believe the tide is turning towards the environment, young people now see the bush as something to be fostered and looked after and that’s a real turnaround”.
 
Ken and Janet were also behind the first Golden Bay Big Day last year.  Big Day events are common in Europe, the USA and Australia and were made famous by the documentary Opposable Chums – one of Ken’s favourites.
 
“A Big Day out is as close to birding as a sport as you can get.  Teams count as many bird species as they can within a geographically defined area and a set time limit,” says Ken.
 
The Golden Bay version saw a team of four head out last Labour weekend.  They traversed 184kms, on foot or by car, and birded almost non-stop for at least 12 of the 13 and half hours of daylight.  The result – a total of 59 species.
 
Ken and Janet plan to do it all again this year, and further down the line they  would like to get a few of the older high school students involved.
 
“It would be a novel, interesting and fun way of getting them involved in birding and related conservation areas. Anything that makes new young energetic people more ecologically aware has got to be a good thing.”
As part of his research into place names in the Park, Project Janszoon Trustee and author Dr Philip Simpson discovers Richardson Stream has links with royalty.
 
Richardson Stream flows from the Tonga Saddle, south of Awaroa, to the sea at the northern end of Onetahuti beach. It follows a faultline, one of the only faults mapped in the eastern part of the park.  
 
The upper reaches of the stream follow a deep ravine that is filled with a significant patch of original forest including very large rata, rimu and pupate. The lower stream flows through a large wetland formed by the infilling of the depression caused by the faultline.  You get a good view of the wetland from the boardwalk and bridge at Onetahuti.
 
So how did this unique and important little stream obtain its name? Ralph Richardson was the son of an English aristocrat, Richard Richardson, of Capenhurst, Cheshire. Ralph graduated from Edinburgh University (MD) and Cambridge (MA) where he was elected a member of the governing body.
 
He married into the Seymour family that included former Queens of England and he and Marie migrated to Nelson in 1851. Together they brought considerable resources and political power with them. Ralph briefly became a member of the Legislative Council, and they purchased land in Nelson (the Maitai Run), Marlborough (Meadowbank Station) and land in the now Abel Tasman National Park. This included Tonga Island and the adjacent mainland to the south of Awaroa Inlet, fronting onto Shag Harbour.
 
The Richardsons returned to England after only 10 years in New Zealand but their son Ralph stayed on and managed the Maitai Run. Ralph and his wife Effie had two daughters, one named Raphine Zealandia Regina, affectionately known as “Queenie”. The sudden death of Ralph in 1889 caused the family to return to Europe, Queenie living mainly in France for 17 years, living on the earnings from the Nelson properties.
 
Upon return, in 1908, Queenie lived with her notorious mother on the Maitai Run, dealing fastidiously with land issues and running the farm. Queenie became a major figure in Nelson society. She held regular French speaking ‘salons’ attended by her close friend Perrine Moncrieff. There is little doubt that the friendship included discussion of the proposed Abel Tasman National Park and lubricated the sale and transfer of the Richardson lands to the Park.
 
Check out this great story from One News about Motupipi Primary School and its geo-cache at Wainui
This One News story shows how the virtual visitor centre can make visiting the Abel Tasman even more enjoyable
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