Monitoring of birds, possums, rodents and mustelids is carried out in the Northern Forest by a range of agencies, while in the Eastbourne and Bays urban area and adjacent foreshore, monitoring of predators takes place as part of MIRO’s ERAT project.
Bird Monitoring in the Northern Forest
5 minute bird counts were set up in 1999 with the assistance of the Wellington Branch of the Ornithological Society of NZ. The intention is to establish what bird species are present and what is happening to these species over time, especially in response to predator control. Bird counts take place annually in October.
More than 30 species have been recorded in the Northern Forest and the forest is home to many regionally rare Wellington species including miromiro/tomtit, tītiti pounamu/rifleman,pōpokotea/whitehead, kārearea/falcon and korimako/bellbird.
Download the latest Bird Monitoring analysis Five Minute Bird Count Analysis_Feb2019 (PDF format)
MIRO has 10 DOC acoustic recorders which have been deployed every winter since 2018 to detect kiwi on and east of East Ridge, as well as along Gollans Stream and up the ridge to the north of the Forks. So far moreporks have been detected at every site, but no kiwi.
In the springtime, from 2017 onwards, these recorders have been used to record the dawn chorus at 20 bird count sites in Butterfly Creek and Gollans Stream, but no detailed analysis has yet been undertaken. The aim is to establish baseline data so that any changes in the bird population can be measured. This recording is also undertaken at 5 sites in the adjacent urban area.
Possum Monitoring in the Northern Forest
Greater Wellington (and more recently OSPRI, as part of their Lower North Island TB-free campaign) have regularly monitored the possum population in the Northern Forest using both Residual Trap Catch (RTC) and results from chew card monitoring. The most recent RTC value is 4.3%. For good forest health, MIRO aims to keep the RTC index below 5%.
Rat and Mustelid Monitoring in the Northern Forest
Monitoring of these pests inside and outside the ‘mainland island’ is organised by Greater Wellington and undertaken quarterly using tracking cards. MIRO volunteers assist with this, placing and retrieving the tracking cards from tracking tunnels that are left permanently in the forest. Greater Wellington analyses and reports on the results. The latest report can be found here.
General Pest Monitoring in the Northern Forest
Given that mustelids and feral cats are a big threat to our birds and are not necessarily well-represented in tracking card surveys, we have been monitoring selected sites in the Northern Forest using three ZIP Motolures since 2021. These are automatic lure (mayonnaise) feeders, which we watch with trail cameras and move around every few months. The idea is to be able to detect all small pest animals, including those that are trap shy. MIRO volunteers change camera cards and batteries every month and examine the captured images to identify what was recorded. Across the sites occupied so far (more than 10) we commonly see mice, rats and possums. Mustelids are sometimes observed, but at low rates, and feral cats have not yet been seen. Only one hedgehog has been spotted so far. These results are consistent with our catch rates, which is reassuring. However, deer and pigs are often seen in the background, which is disappointing given that the sites are not really set up to record them.
ERAT Residential Area Monitoring
Levels of pests are monitored in the residential and foreshore areas of Eastbourne using tracking tunnels. This involves placing inked cards in baited tunnels three times each year so that the prints from pests passing through the tunnels are recorded. The cards are analysed so that pest levels are determined, and the trap network can be improved if required.
ERAT tracking result maps