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Predator Monitoring Tunnels

Written by Gabrielle Fortune

Monitoring tunnel with footprints

Ever wondered what predators are out there in South Titirangi?

STNN Predator Count - July 2023 – gives us some answers.

The weather forecast for the first week of July showed a few consecutive fine nights – welcome news as fine weather is needed for monitoring predators in South Titirangi. Rainy wet conditions are not the best as rats, mice and possums seem to stay home in bad weather.

Predator detection is undertaken three or four times a year using the predator monitoring tunnels. The present count is important as nesting of Piwakawaka (Fantail), Riroriro (Grey Warbler) and Tauhou (Waxeye) all begin breeding in August. For Riroriro its sometimes as early as July. These birds have a short window to raise their first young before the arrival of the Pipiwharauroa (Shining Cuckoo) in September. Pipiwharauroa lay their eggs in these small birds nests and the hatched chick then kicks the host bird’s eggs or chicks out and becomes the only chick raised by the foster parents.

The predator tracking tunnels are positioned across the peninsula (60 in total). The tunnels are put in place ahead of the Predator Count so that the local predator population is accustomed to them. Each Predator Count the tunnels are loaded up with ink cards and a lure of peanut butter. Predators are attracted to the food, walk across the ink pad to eat and then exit the tunnel leaving nice footprints on the white section of the card. After three nights the cards are removed, identification of the visitors is made and the information is recorded. Then we have an indication of what predators are out there. If rats are detected in areas where Grey Faced Petrels are nesting for example steps can be taken to protect the eggs and young chicks by setting ferret, stoat and rat traps close by.

Monitoring tunnel with mouse prints

The July Count showed up a good crop of mice!

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