The View From Opoutere

Easter Update

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EASTER SATURDAY WORKING BEE

Join the gang in the Spit Forest to help clear kahili ginger. Thousands of square meters of this vigorous weed have been cleared over the last couple of years – come and see the difference that has been made while helping us to clean up the little seedlings and odd patches that we have yet to clear.

When? Easter Saturday 9-11am

Where? Logan’s track – off Madeleine’s track. Look for the cones on the main beach track from the carpark and turn right.  Walk Madeleine’s track until you see another safety cone turn left – that is Logan’s track. Walk 200 meters along that track and you will find us. (Call Chris if you are confused, ph 021 418 119.)

Bring: closed shoes, garden gloves, sunhat, water and bug spray. 

HOT CROSS BUNS AFTERWARDS!

 

IT’S A MEGAMAST YEAR! (OK. BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN…?)

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The word is out – 2019 is going to be a “megamast’ year. Forest & Bird explain this very well:

“In a ‘mast’ year, trees experience extremely heavy flowering, fruiting and seeding. Historically this would trigger an abundance of food for native wildlife to make up for lean years. But now mast events boost rodent numbers, and in turn stoat numbers. When the seed or fruit is gone, the plague of predators turn to our native birds, bats, lizards and insects.  Depending on your forest type, the real crunch moment is when the fruit rots or the seed germinates, and suddenly a plethora of rats are very hungry!

This year has been labelled a ‘megamast’ because both beech and podocarp forests are masting at the same time across most of the country.  It also follows a heavy fruiting of broadleaf species, which has fuelled a summer abundance of birds, but also of rats.”

What can we do? 

  • We keep trapping and baiting, but we check our traplines more frequently.
  • We will install some extra traps around the perimeter of our village where the forestry area meets the native bush – this is where we will see a lot of predator traffic.
  • We are going to rely on EVERYONE getting involved in backyard trapping. Predator Free NZ has a great page with a super-easy guide to get you started.
  • Clear out weeds and rubbish in your garden – don’t give the little devils easy nesting places.
  • Visit Goodnature to source automatically resetting possum and rat traps, Predator Free NZ to buy Doc200 box traps and traps.co.nz for bait stations, traps and bait.
  • Donate to ORRA – please consider a financial contribution to our pest control programme. Our volunteers are out on the traplines every week, personally buying eggs for the traps and doing the hard yards scraping dead things out of traps. Here are our bank details and membership forms, we would be very grateful for your financial help if you are not able to help out physically.

 

FINAL DOTTEREL COUNT FOR 2018-2019 BREEDING SEASON

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Here is a summary of the season as provided by Glenda Betts:

Ohui 7 NZD fledged, Wharekawa sandpit and mid-beach 9 NZD fledged = total 16 NZD fledged

NB: Fledgling time depends on how much food the chicks get. More disturbance = slower growth rate of chicks. 28 days for egg to hatch + 28-30 days for chick to fledge

The final 4 chicks hatched late-January and early-february – took 6 & 7 weeks to fledge.

 

BRUCE’S BAY BRIDGE

Thanks to Chips Jones for replacing rotten wood, repairing the bridge’s sub-structure and finishing the job with a brand new coat of yellow paint. The causeway is looking wonderful after some epic working bees and now the little bridge itself has been given the VIP treatment. Thanks to everyone who has been involved in this project.

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The little bridge – resplendent in sunshine yellow paint – it complements the fantastic repairs being done to the causeway.

A WORD FROM THE FIRE CHIEF

Thanks to Jo Adams and the team at the Onemana Rural Fire Force for keeping an eye on Opoutere during the recent dry months. It has been fantastic to see the big, yellow unimog patrolling the area and keeping us all safe.

Jo has a message for Opoutere: Even though the summer fire ban period has ended the surrounding forests are still very dry and a fire risk. Please take care and don’t hesitate to call 111 if you have any concerns about a fire in the open.

 

DRIVE SAFELY EVERYONE, HAPPY EASTER!

 

Summer In Review

As autumn marches across the landscape it’s a good time to reflect on summer’s happenings.

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We have enjoyed fantastic conditions for losing ourselves in the natural world of Opoutere , with record high temperatures and long, settled weather patterns. By February the water tankers were plying their trade in the village as domestic reserves ran low, mercifully late-March has seen welcome rain filling the tanks and reviving the soil.

 

ORRA APPRECIATES YOU!

Thanks to everyone who:

  • came along to the AGM and contributed to the community conversation
  • paid their ORRA subscriptions (It’s not too late! Go to this page for bank details.)
  • attended working bees
  • participated in the regatta and prize giving bbq on the Michael King Reserve (top work Shan, Gavin, Rachel and Simon)
  • signed up for Dotterel Watch (especially Gordon Ikin who organised the roster)
  • donated to our forestry consultant fund
  • controlled plant and animal pests on their land
  • kept an eye on boat traffic in the harbour during the busy holiday period
  • did their bit, said their piece and kept Opoutere beautiful.
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Budding eco-champion Lorena with a DOC200 trap, peanut butter lure and a chunk of rabbit for good luck!

 

ORRA would also like to publicly acknowledge:

  • the Waikato Regional Council’s Small Scale Community Initiatives Fund. Money received has been used to buy cutting tools, pesticide and safety equipment for working bees.
  • Eureka Enterprises, who have supported our ginger removal efforts by generously discounting our favourite hand tool – the Niwashi Garden Shark.
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    Some of our hard-working volunteers (including George the dog) brandishing Garden Sharks. Recent victims of the Garden Sharks can be seen in the background.

     

BIRD LIFE SUCCESS

ORRA’s predator control work, spearheaded by Chris Woudenberg, has contributed to a very successful breeding season for the banded rail population. They are often seen dashing across the road as if in a blind panic (insouciance is not their style) and are notoriously shy. You may hear their distinctive call in the wetlands and around the estuarine shoreline. The Wharekawa Catchment Care Group (in conjunction with Waikato Regional Council) has been busy setting up traplines in the Kapakapa wetlands area, which will further protect the banded rail community in that part of the village.

Over the summer months a family with chicks were frequently spotted in the mangroves by the beach carpark footbridge, one was captured in the photo below.

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Banded rail at Waponga Reserve footbridge. Photo by Val Herbert

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Spot the banded rail! From WRC’s Facebook page.

 

Hats off to Glenda Betts who took on the job of DOC’s Dotterel Ranger for Opoutere this season.  Glenda has worked tirelessly alongside DOC Ranger Frouk Miller to tally up eggs, chicks and fledglings and protect nesting sites. While protecting dotterel nests on the Wharekawa Spit one day they experienced abusive behaviour from some members of the public and ORRA would like to acknowledge the important job they did and express our sadness that this sort of event happened while people were protecting an endangered species.

A summary of the dotterel breeding season will be published in the Easter update on these pages.

 

WORKING BEES

While the sun shone during the busy holiday period much work was done by volunteers at well-attended working bees.

Weed Removal in the Beach Reserve Forest

During late-December and early-January teams of people worked to remove kahili ginger in the beach forest. The difference is amazing.

However, while the native understory is thriving in the newly liberated terrain, dormant ginger seeds are still rising like tiny, green zombies out of the soil!  Thankfully, the forest provides a lovely work environment so the prospect of regular ginger sessions is surprisingly appealing.  There are always interesting people to chat with as you crawl about in the undergrowth pulling out ginger. An added bonus is that the emerging carpet of native plant seedlings is a magical sight to see.

Keep an eye on the bus shelter for working bee notices.

 

 

Thanks to Chris Woudenberg for his determination in tackling plant pests (not just ginger but also barberry, ink weed, privet, cotoneaster, pampas…the list goes on) – he has methodically mapped the areas needing work, organised the materials required, and rallied the troops.

 

Bruce’s Bay Causeway Repairs

At the ORRA AGM in January concerns were raised about the deterioration of the little stone walkway that crosses Bruce’s Bay. This causeway provides safe passage for pedestrians who would otherwise be navigating a very tight corner on a busy road with little to no footpath. It was originally constructed (under a veil of anonymity and largely solo) by Bruce Collier, a resident whose name attaches to this little cove due to his herculean efforts to transform it into a pleasant corner of the village. Bruce now resides at the Booms Care Home in Thames.

ORRA committee members Stuart Farmer and Keryn Kliskey teamed up with Peter Le Heron and organised working bees to lay new foundations for the bridge, reinforce the causeway and repair the wooden rails on the bridge. Rocks and builders’ mix were donated, Peter provided a concrete mixer, many barrows of heavy cement and rocks were hauled about, morning teas were provided by Angela Peters and everyone went home tired and perfumed by the mud of Bruce’s Bay!

Thanks to all the strong arms, legs and backs that tackled this tough job and to Angela Peters for the wonderful photos and refreshments.

 

Enjoy the lovely autumn days, the next update will be at Easter.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Happenings

The pohutukawa are in flower, the dotterel chicks are hatching and our village is about to fill up with bach visitors and campers!

 

Here are a few important dates for your diary:

 

The Opoutere Regatta  –  Saturday December 29 2pm

Opoutere’s annual regatta – with swimming and kayak races for young and old.

Start time is 2pm and there will be prize giving and a bbq across the road in the Michael King Reserve. (Bring $$ for the bbq!)

Everyone is welcome.

 

Opoutere Ratepayers & Residents Association AGM  –  Wednesday January 2nd 9.30am

Come along to see what the association has been working on this year and make sure that your subs are up to date so you can vote (an agenda will be posted on the bus shelter)! You can also join the association if you are not already a member.

The meeting will be held in the Opoutere School hall.

 

Dotterel Watch  –  low tides between Xmas and early NY 2019

Please sign up for a shift on the Wharekawa Spit at low tide to help protect the dotterel’s access to food at low tide. See the bus shelter for the roster.

 

Summer Holiday Working Bees 

Ginger Clean-up (no loud machines) December 22 9-11am: We are taking care of little ginger seedlings that have sprung up since our last major working bee in the forest. Walk through the forest towards the yellow bench beach entrance, look for the orange cones and follow that forest trail for a couple of hundred meters  – you can’t miss us.

PROVISIONAL DATES: Thursday December 27 + Monday December 31st

 

 

Death To Ginger! A fun working bee.

 

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WHAT: Ginger cutting and pasting

WHEN: Saturday 14 July 2018

9am – 11am

Another one of our lovely working bees, this one is perfect for the whole family as it’s smack-bang in the middle of the school holidays. 

WHERE: Walk out towards the beach from the bridge, turn right at the cones, walk under the fallen pine along the outer beach track, heading south until you see some more cones. then turn right and follow the rope. There you will find us.

BRING: Garden tools for cutting, safety gear (gloves, glasses, ear muffs if you have them, sturdy boots).

WHY? Kahili ginger is an invasive pest plant that smothers young plants and prevents native seedlings from growing. It poses a significant threat to native ecosystems. 

Got ginger on your land? Please support all the hard work done by our community working bees by removing it. Check out www.weedbusters.org.nz. As landowners we are all responsible for the removal of ginger from our sections,click here to find out more from Waikato Regional Council.

ORRA says “THANK YOU!”

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What a great community we have.

Thanks for turning up to working bees, signing up to the Dotterel Watch roster, paying your subs, picking up rubbish, digging out ginger in your garden, putting a rat trap on your section, attending the world-famous regatta, attending the AGM, giving lost tourists directions, keeping an eye on the fire risk…and just being a terrific bunch of people.

This is what makes Opoutere OPOUTERE.

Please accept your association’s appreciation for your help and involvement over the summer.

(See you at a working bee over the autumn and winter months, we may put on a bbq to tempt you away from your fireside chair!)

 

Anniversary Weekend Working Bee

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Join us at 8.30am Sunday morning of Anniversary Weekend in the spit forest for a fun and easy working bee to clear a huge, well-established ginger patch. Ginger grows very fast and prevents native plants from getting established, it’s very satisfying to see how much of the forest opens up to the light following each working bee. This weekend we hope you’ll join us on the beach afterwards for a snack and a swim.

From our ecology team leader Chris Woudenberg:

“Yes we have another Ginger working be this coming Sunday, Please find attached a map of the spit showing the Ginger the 6000 m2 that  has already been cleared  and the patch still to do.   The yellow pin is where we will be working on Sunday.

As before, walk from the Bridge to the beach, just before you get to the beach turn right at the ORRA safety cone, past the DOC Track closed sign and the orange fencing, under the fallen pine and about 400 meters further along you will see some more safety cones, turn right and follow the yellow rope, it’s not far in, about 50 meters.

This is very fun and satisfying play, as well as you will meet some of your fellow Opoutere people that you may not know.  Children are most welcome to help and the ones that have come so far have really enjoyed it , pulling those baby plants,  pasting or filling those rubbish bags up. 

After the completion of the working bee there will be morning tea supplied out on the beach if the weather is good.

If the weather is not suitable for a working be there will be a “no working bee” sign placed on the bus stop in the village , it will go ahead with light rain but very heavy rain and strong wind it will not, so if it doesn’t look good check out the bus stop, a sign will be out by 8 am. As well as posted on the ORRA Facebook page.

Please wear shoes and gloves and if you have a sharp knife that would be handy, but I will be using the ORRA ginger destroyer to cut most of the ginger.

Any questions let me know otherwise see you on Sunday 

Cheers

Chris 021 418119″Ginger Map

 

 

Summer Happenings

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It’s the best time of the year! The pohutukawas are in bloom, the water is warm and Christmas is just around the corner. Here’s a link to the tide chart and surf forecast.

Of note this year is the “catastrophic fire risk” posed by the dead trees in the beach forest. Please be proactive:

  •  if you see anyone preparing a beach bonfire please have a chat with them before they get the chance to light it,
  • call 111 if you see ANY fire,
  • call Jo Adams 0274 493 034 if you find the remains of a beach fire, he will extinguish any embers. There will be no back up for the Onemana Rural Fire Force in the busy holiday period, if a fire catches in the forest the chances of stopping it are very slim.  Please read on for more information from TCDC regarding fire.

 

Get out your diary and make a note of these upcoming events in Opoutere.

THE OPOUTERE REGATTA

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Come along to Bruce’s Bay at 2pm Thursday 28th December. The fun begins with a bucket competition for the under-5s then it gets serious with swimming and kayaking races for young and old. Prize giving at 5pm in the Michael King Reserve over the road. Thanks to Shan and Gavin for organising the event. Check out the colourful 2017 Regatta Notice on the bus shelter.

 

ORRA AGM

9.30am Tuesday 2nd January 2018, at Opoutere School.

Follow this link to the ORRA AGM 2018 AGENDA.

The agenda will be posted on the bus shelter and will be available on the day

 

BUSH-BASHING WEED-KILLING WORKING BEES

From Chris, our tireless ecology warrior:

Opoutere Working Bees coming right up!

Yes, it’s time. The birds are singing and mating as they are very happy out on the spit now.

The rat population is pretty close to zero ( a recent DOC monitoring program showed zero rats out on the spit in our trapping area). Not to mention no recent signs of possums, just rabbits now.

But the problem with this is that the bird life has increase significantly and they love to spread ginger seeds and ginger is getting ready to flower, NOW is the time for us to get stuck into some working bees out on the spit.

First one is this Saturday at 8 30 am.

Coming Working Bee Dates:

Saturday 23rd December 8 30 am

Wednesday 27th December 8 30 am

Saturday 30th December 8 30 am

Wednesday 3rd January 8 30 am

I recently mapped out the area of one larger ginger patch and it was 6000 M² with around 75% coverage over this area – which is a bit of ginger , There is a second area nearby which I haven’t scouted yet but probably 4000 M², Which is quite a significant amount of ginger which needs to be removed.

What we do is cut and paste and cut and paste and more cutting and pasting , I have a few knives but any good sharp knife will help, I have many bottles of paste to stop them regrowing back.

Suitable for all ages, children most welcome as there is a lot of baby ginger which can be pulled by hand and then placed in black plastic bags to rot away – as these plants will grow back.

This is a fun couple of hours and you get a real sense of achievement at the end as you look back on what we have done – the last one we cleared about 1000 M² so we will get on top of it. If we don’t it will overtake the whole spit.

Where :

This ginger patch is pretty well right in the middle of the spit ( pic below), I have made a track into the middle from the seaward side of the spit loop track. Head from the carpark towards the beach and just before you get to the beach turn right walk past the DOC track closed sign and the orange netting , under the fallen pine and about 200 meters further along the track you will see a traffic safety cone – turn right and follow the red marking tape and the yellow rope on the ground until you find me in the middle of some ginger.

The area we will be working is away from the poisoned pines.

Please wear gloves and good footwear and sign the book before you start work it will be at the start of the track – please sign again on your way out , so we can keep track of you while you are out working.

My number is 021 418119 if you get lost or have any questions.

Chris

Dont forget the ORRA agm which is coming up on the 2th Jan , I will be giving my yearly review of our pest control work in Opoutere. 

our Ginger problem

 

RUBBISH DAYS

Kerbside rubbish collections increase from December 27 2017 until February 10 2018.

The schedule is:

Monday – blue bags and small recycling bins only (glass)

Saturday – blue bags, ALL recycling (including wheelie bins)

 

TOTAL FIRE BAN SEASON

From the Thames Coromandel District Council:

Total Fire Ban in place across the Coromandel for the summer

Our summer Total Fire Ban is in place from tomorrow (20 December) across the Coromandel, which means open fires in public places, beaches, public conservation land (DOC) and on private property are not permitted.

We could be in for a hot, dry summer which means an elevated fire risk as vegetation and soil dries out.

The Total Fire Ban runs from 20 December 2017 until 8 February 2018 and can be extended if the dry weather continues.

The ban includes land-clearing fires, rubbish fires, traditional cooking and hangi fires, bonfires, solid-fuelled BBQs, braziers, domestic fireworks, Chinese lanterns, and open-top incinerators.

It does not include gas-fuelled cookers or gas BBQs provided they are operated by an adult in a safe manner.

For more information on fire restrictions in the Coromandel, go to our web page www.tcdc.govt.nz/fire

If you see an out-of-control fire, call Fire and Emergency New Zealand on 111.

Bush fires, like that which burned through about 100 hectares of land at Comers Road in Mercury Bay in January this year (see photo below), put lives in danger and destroy property and habitat for native plant and animal species.

“The Comers Rd fire is a prime example of why we have a Total Fire Ban across the Coromandel during the summer. This shows how damaging a fire in the bush can be,” says Paul Shaw, the Waikato Principal Rural Fire Officer.

Be fire smart

Comers Road fire area, Mercury Bay, January 2017. Photo by Philip Hart.

(Photo of damage from Comers Rd fire by Philip Hart.)

You can take action now to reduce the risk to your property from fire.

  • Make sure your property has good access for fire trucks, and to water supplies.
  • Have a well-practiced escape plan so everyone knows what to do if there is a fire.
  • Call 111 immediately if you see any smoke.
  • Maintain a defendable area free of vegetation around your home
  • Store firewood in a cool dry place, not next to your home. It will dry out with the sun and heat and ignite easily.
  • Be vigilant when working with machinery that could throw sparks and ignite a fire. Dampen down the surrounding area beforehand, and do the work first thing in the morning when it is coolest. Remember to check the fire season at www.checkitsalright.nz as these activities may be fully prohibited due to the high risk of them starting a fire.

Use Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s fire safety checklist to help make sure your property is safe from vegetation fires this summer.

Go to www.checkitsalright.nz to check the fire danger in your area

 

DOTTEREL WATCH

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During the busiest days of the holiday season the Opoutere community does a great job protecting the dotterels’ feeding time on the spit at low tide. We work cooperatively with Frouk Miller, the hard-working DoC Dotterel Ranger for our area. Volunteers sign up to do a couple of hours by the spit barrier keeping an eye out for people who may not be aware of the dotterels feeding needs at nesting time. When disturbed by people and/or dogs the birds on the spit can take fright and abandon their nests, tragically chicks can try to follow their parents and drown or are simply left to starve.

Please join us in this work by signing up to the Dotterel roster on the bus shelter, we would love to have your help!

For any questions or concerns about the Dotterel Watch programme, please contact Frouk at fmiller@doc.govt.nz.

 

 

HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!