February 2016 update
A rather late Happy New Year everyone. I hope you are having a lovely summer.
Lots has been happening since the last update back in November - regular Oroua/Rangi checks of all traps are up to date and the Pohangina River traps have been serviced again. I've included more pictures this time - some summer holiday shots!
The December Oroua rebait was completed well before Xmas by regular volunteers Anthony and Fiona, Gordon Groube, Graeme Richards, Graham Peters and myself. Graeme did the Tunupo Line, Anthony and Fiona did the main track and completed the circuit via IG ridge and the tops. Graham and I did the main river and lower river area. Gordon did the Triangle Circuit via Rangi Hut (2 stoats, 3 rats). This line, including the new traps on the ridges does not catch a lot, in contrast to the nearby Rangi/Deadmans loop which until recently was catching quite a few stoats. Thanks to Adele from the Rangitikei tramaping club who cleared a stoat on a trip to the river - having just learnt how to use the traps at a chance meeting with me at Heritage Lodge. Between us we cleared 16 stoats, 52 rats and 1 hedgehog.
The January Oroua rebait had me worried early when we found 4 stoats (3 in a row) on the Stoat Trappers line on Jan 10th - were we about to see an explosion in stoat numbers? It was good to see a Whio near the Iron Gate Gorge just sitting quietly in the river - well spotted by Graham. We rechecked this line a week later and again later in the month and got one more stoat so hopefully not a huge increase in numbers. Klaartje van Schie rebaited Iron Gate RIdge and the Tunupo tops and got no catches! Craig Steed, Peter Henman and Cassius Malthus-Henman went on a 3 day tramp to Iron Gate and Triangle Hut rebaiting the main track and all the river.
They tell me it was a great summer holiday trip. I rebaited Tunupo and found 4 stoats and 2 rats. Anthony and Fiona went up to the Tunupo Tops and finished off staking down and numbering the traps - great effort thanks. They also did an early rebait of the Lower River Loop late in the month while showing friend Ron Sherk the sights!
The Rangi Deadmans Loop has been receiving regular rebaits - thank to everyone who has helped out while Steve has been out of action. Mike Shepherd (coordinator of the Manawatu Gorge trap line) rebaited in late November and Caitlyn and Helen Thomas did it again in late December. Steve has made a remarkably quick recovery from his hip replacement and was back walking the loop at the end of January. Assisting with this rebait were Anthony Behrens and his German friend Uwe Hinze.
The Pohangina has had some attention . Ben Douglas got in at xmas and serviced the traps up river of Leon Kinvig Hut. I must say his trip sounded rather epic as he found the deep pools challenging with a heavy pack of meat. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has used the old sidle track that avoids the upper gorge (below Top Gorge Hut) in recent times - it used to be marked? Ben saw ducks near Leon Kinvig Hut. Pete McGregor walked a lot of the river around that time and found a family with 5 ducklings. I had a great 4 day trip over Wellington Anniversay weekend with Graham Peters, Jean Garman and Richard Lockett. We found a family with 2 big ducklings - possibly the same family - a single male duck and another pair. Lots of sign and reported sightings down near Mid Pohangina Hut but we didn't see any ducks in the middle of the day. Most of the traps are working OK . The river was very low and very pleasant.
The February rebait is pretty much organised - first team of Stefan Thompson and Keiran O'Neill go tomorrow to the Triangle area and the rest of the Oroua Valley traps should be done over the next week or so. Thanks to Torban and Jared for volunteering, also Ian Rasmussen, Klaartje van Schie, Anthony and Fiona for offering to help. With a bit of luck the remaining 20 or so traps needed to complete the Tunupo Tops loop will fly up in the next few days. There may just be a bit of carrying to do over the weekend of the 13/14 Feb.
Thanks everyone for your willing support. If you would like to help out in the upcoming months just send me an email.
Volunteers needed now for April and May - around the middle of the month.
Since the last update in early November there has been a huge volunteer effort in both valleys. The rain stopped, river levels fell and the river traps have been serviced. Over the last 2 1/2 months there has been over 50 volunteer person days put in up in the hills. A bait trial has been set up and in the Oroua (including Rangi) 79 stoats or weasels, 129 rats and 4 hedgehogs have been removed from the Doc 200 traps.