Latest posting from Paula
Dear members and volunteers
Ranger We almost have a new ranger. We had an email from Jimmy Young this week, which reads:
I would like to introduce Jo Greenman as the newly appointed East Harbour Regional Park Ranger.
Many of you may have already meet Jo as part of her current and previous roles. Jo has been in our GW Parks Landscape Maintenance team for just over 2 years, coming to GWRC from DOC. She spent 7 years as the DOC ranger on Matiu Somes Island, and has a great deal of experience in managing parks, visitors and volunteers. She was also a consistent point of contact for Taranaki Whanui during their years-long Treaty settlement process, which eventually resulted in Matiu Somes becoming co-managed by DOC and the PNBST.
Jo is really excited about her new role, and the challenges and opportunities that East Harbour Regional Park presents. Jo officially starts from 26th February 2019.
We are looking forward to having Jo officially in the role. I’m confident the relationship will be positive and productive, just as it was with Mark. Jo is not completely new to Baring Head, having helped out with some recent events. In fact I realised when she came on the evening walk at the beginning of February that I had literally tripped over her on a planting day – she was crouched down trying to stop the wind blowing pots away, and I was blown sideways by the wind and my trajectory was interrupted by there being a ranger in the way. That was a very windy planting day.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Ricky, the Wainuiomata ranger, who has been ensuring our toilets continue to be cleaned and other important work done.
Plant care work and fire risk It’s dry out there. Conservation Volunteers were out today to do plant care work, and the area has dried out a lot since our last outing a few weeks ago. The fire risk is rising rapidly, and we are being very careful in our management work. If you are out there or talking to people who visit, please encourage them to be particularly vigilant. Even little things like leaving a glass bottle lying on the ground or driving over grass can cause a fire in these sorts of conditions, and obviously things like cigarettes are a serious hazard. I’m just back from a work trip to Nelson, and the smell of smoke and the view of the fire area was a good reminder of how careful we need to be.
But some of our plantings will be feeling much happier this evening. We took two trailer loads of oxygen weed out from under the bridge and mulched a lot of plants. We couldn’t do them all, so we’ve deliberately paired plants – one with mulch, one without – so we can see what difference this treatment makes to growth rates. If we see a big difference in survival and growth, we’ll focus more on mulching for future plantings, rather than just releasing. We also watered a lot of plants, and those north of the bridge as well.
It was a lovely day, with little wind, and playing in the river mitigated the effect of the hot sun. The volunteers were very impressed with our beach, where they went for lunch.
Ricky came out to provide the trailer service and help in the morning. He is hoping we’ll get rain this weekend.
The small mammal monitoring crew were out there today, as was a lizard researcher, and our biodiversity officer. So a buzzing place.
Work bench Many thanks to Mike Brown who offered to pick up the work bench. In the end he cleverly managed to arrange for the man who was storing it to drop it off to GW. It arrived safely – see photo. So that’s another step towards our visitor centre.
Working bees I’ll be out this weekend with an entomology team. I’ve got a few jobs that need to be done, so if anyone is available to help with some work on either Saturday late afternoon or Sunday morning, let me know.
Paula Warren Chair, Friends of Baring Head
Work bench delivery Many thanks to Mike who offered to pick up the work bench. In the end he managed to get the person who is storing it to agree to drop it off in the Hutt. Great work Mike.
Sundowner hike Yesterday was our first official summer event. The weather was perfect – no wind at all, clear sky, calm sea. But the recent southerly had provided a good mix of seaweed and critters on the beach for the beachcombing part of the event.
The walk focused on geomorphology – how landforms are created and change. We have developed a small booklet that provides an explanation of the process for Baring Head. If you would like a copy, just email me with an address and I’ll post one out.
The walk was booked out (35 people), but not everyone showed up, so we had a smaller group than expected. Jimmy Young was the GW lead, replacing Mark, Mel managed the logistics, and Jo from the GW maintenance team had volunteered to help out. All I had to do was talk about the river and rocks and critters, which is the fun bit. Collectively the GW team did a great job managing the event, including providing prizes for the best finds on the beach – a lovely bryozoan on a sea tulip stem won. We got very good feedback from the participants, and they all got back to their cars safely.
I then headed up to the lighthouse for the night, with a regular volunteer who was staying just long enough to do some night photography. A perfect night for it, with no cloud or moon to obscure the stars. It was eerily quiet, with no wind in the trees.
The 4WD event is booked out, but they do seem to be accepting people to go on a waiting list. And Tim and I have agreed to run a river-focused event in late March. Date still to be chosen.
Weed control work I’m meeting the GW Biodiversity officer tomorrow so we can mesh our work programmes and agree on what we will seek funding for. A key area we want to coordinate is our weed control work. GW is funding weed spraying of difficult woody weeds, including gorse along the river, boxthorn and lupins. We have been focusing on horned poppies and some other weeds on the coast.
I found a few more flowering poppy plants over the weekend, but I’m now pretty sure there will be no significant seed production this year. And large areas have no poppies at all. So I’m now starting to look at some of the other weeds as this year’s focus for working bees, particularly lupin. It would, after all, be a pity not to have an excuse for a day at the beach.
Attached are before and after photos of my lupin clearing near the climbing rocks this morning. The grasses are a sand tussock (Poa billardierei) that is now rare in Wellington, but thriving on our coast. It only took about half an hour of quite easy work to take out 203 lupins and 3 poppies, meaning that all that population is now weed-free. It’s a good illustration of the huge difference a small amount of volunteer effort can make.
Trustee meeting We had our first trustee meeting of the year at the end of January. The main focus was to decide our main fundraising goals, and our summer event work. Jimmy reported that he had completed the interviews for a new ranger, and would be able to make an announcement soon. Given the number of little jobs we gave him, I’m sure he is looking forward to having a ranger again as much as we are.
One immediate action from that is to find a solution to the goat problem. There were 8 at the climbing rocks this morning, targeting taupata. See the photo of two who had decided to attack a lovely plant growing on top of a large rock stack. They ignored my suggestion that they eat lupins instead.
Invertebrates Tim did his trapline today, and I met up with him on the south coast and we walked around the coast and up the river. A lot of invertebrates out making the most of the calm weather. A spectacular copper-orange longhorn beetle landed on me and stayed long enough to be admired (but not long enough to be photographed). Some shiny olive-brown bugs decided that my glasses were a lovely place to sit, and stayed with me from the pumphouse to the car despite my attempts to evict them. The cicadas were out in force, some probably a different species to the common Wellington one, judging by their song. There were copper butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies, all sorts of blowflies, bumblebees and honey bees, caddis flies and snails in the river, and (it being a still day) sandflies.
Many of the plants at Baring Head are important invertebrate habitat. For example, the caterpillars of copper butterflies only feed on Muehlenbeckia, and those of admiral butterflies need nettles. We have plenty of both of those, but some of our other specialist foods (speargrass for the speargrass weevil, pimelea for some moths) are in short supply. We’ll be developing an invertebrate habitat management plan over the next year or so. The first step, which I am partway through, is to map our existing vegetation.
Paula - Chair
Dear members and volunteers
Workbench needing a ride from Levin As part of the development of a visitor centre in the generator house, we want to recreate some of the work spaces that were there when the lighthouse was manned, including the workshop and the generator house.
We are still looking for the right sort of generator, but we have found the right workbench. The only snag is that it is in Levin and needs to be brought down to Upper Hutt. It's dimensions are 140cm by 60cm by 92cm. If you know anyone who would be going through Levin in the near future, or you want an excuse for an outing, please let me know as soon as possible.
Weekend at Baring Head We had the Hutt library event on Saturday. It was windy, and the library hadn’t insisted on people booking, and we ended up with lots of librarians and no readers. But we had a fun time on the beach anyway, and it did give us a good chance to talk about how to run events with small kids, and for them to see the locations and facilities. I’ll work with them to advertise another event, this time getting GW to take bookings for it.
We had prepared a treasure hunt list for the walk from the carpark to the beach, and another for on the beach. So we can use that for other purposes.
Colin and I weeded the beach from the boats to the northern boundary on Friday afternoon. Hot, still, calm sea (for that coast) and a very low tide. A great chance to see what is growing on the rocks, and some great stuff washed up.
On Saturday morning I did some weeding near the climbing rocks, and clearly the tide had also been very high. The climbing rocks themselves must have been completely surrounded by water in the middle of the night. And the southerly swells have closed the rivermouth, so the lagoon is beginning to fill up again.
Thursday is releasing of old plantings, all day. We’ll also be out on 13 February to continue that work.
Saturday is the GW evening walk event, which Jimmy will be leading instead of Mark.
Paula Chair Friends of Baring Head 021 101 4824
Dear members and volunteers
Just a quick update.
Recent visit I recently spent a couple of days at the volunteer base with a regular volunteer. A primary goal was to see if you can make interesting baskets from seaweed, and the southerly supplied ample material to work with. We tried various methods, and narrowed down what works. Attached is Ellen trying out plaiting basketry, which works ok until you try to put the sides on, at which point the material gets a mind of its own. I now have a lot of experimental pieces drying on my porch. I’ve also turned some marram into a basket, so perhaps in future we’ll have a basketry event just using materials from the area.
But in between the fun activities we also worked our way along much of Fitzroy Bay removing poppies. We found quite a few scattered along the coast, and of course the area over the boundary to the north, which has had only a couple of treatments so far, had more than our backs and arms could handle. We also tackled a lot of the thistles around the lighthouse complex (Mark will get the mower operator to deal with the dense patch near the garage) and mulched some more of the new plantings around the toilet.
It was the first time I’ve been at the base in a strong south-easterly. The toilet became difficult to use, as the wind did interesting things with the door if you tried to open it. I will look at whether we can get a handle on the inside to make it safer. Coming back along the path at one stage the wind was so strong that I was pinned to the bank for a minute or so until there was a slight lull and I could make progress towards the gate. It then pushed me right off the path, into a patch of wire that then tipped me off my feet. But at least it wasn’t trying to push me over the edge of the escarpment. Not surprisingly we had no members of the public call in. The rain will have pleased the plants and refilled the water tanks, but didn’t last very long, so we mostly had sunshine and great views of a wild ocean.
Mark called in, on his second to last day in the ranger role, to clean the toilets, remove some rubbish and dead animals, and pass some jobs on to me. We now have a gap between regular rangers for probably a few weeks to a month.
Hutt Library Event and working bee The Hutt library event is this Saturday afternoon. Colin and I will go out on Friday late afternoon to do some preparatory work and poppy hunting, and I’ll stay over and do some work on Saturday morning. So if you are wanting to do a working bee, or try an overnight stay, you are welcome to join me.
Conservation Volunteers plant releasing I’ll be going out with their team on 31 January to hand release some of our previous plantings. I’m sure they would be happy to have more volunteers. Leaving Wellington city about 8.30 am and out there most of the day.
Trustees meeting Our first meeting of the year will also be on 31 January. A key focus for the discussions will be our fundraising strategy for 2019. We have some exciting (and expensive) work to be done at the lighthouse complex, and also need to start the next phase of our biodiversity work.
Paula Warren Chair Friends of Baring Head
Dear members and volunteers
Happy New Year!.
I started the New Year in a fitting way, with two days at the lighthouse with Helen Beaglehole, who is a past trustee and wrote the definitive book on NZ lighthouses. Large numbers of her family and friends came and went over the two days, alongside a lot of other visitors, so the lighthouse complex was a busy place.
I am hoping that this was just the first of many great outings I’ll have in 2019. I’ve attached a photo of the patch of rare sand tussocks near the climbing rocks, taken just after dawn from the top of the rock scree where I was removing horned poppies. The coast was magic at that time of the day, before the heat and sandflies arrived (sandflies aren’t normally a problem out there, but there wasn’t enough wind on the south coast to keep them at bay).
Mark cancelled the trap workshop for our December working bee, so he, Kair and I did various jobs. Kair and I rescued 4 seedlings from under the 3 adult titoki above the road. Apart from one plant that was far enough from the adult trees to hopefully survive, that seemed to be their entire reproduction effort this year. None of the seedlings under the trees survive, so we figured we should try shifting them and see if that gives us any new plants. We have put them down between the road and the wetland, where they will have access to groundwater all year and will be easily looked after. I checked and watered them on New Year’s day, and they had survived and one even had new leaves. While we were doing that Mark mulched some more plantings by the river, and then we went to the coast and did some horned poppies in Fitzroy Bay, and ate strawberries and chocolates in the shade of the vehicle.
We also had our final trustee meeting in December, and gave Mark and Jimmy small gifts as thanks for their support over the year. We were able to reflect on a very productive year, and good progress with the work. We have raised and spent $375,000 since the area became a park, thanks to Colin’s marvellous fundraising skills. And our Million Metres Stream bid was fully funded at the last minute, so we will be able to do all the planned planting next year.
The new bridge is now operating, and the old bridge gone. It just needs a sheep gate and an entrance for cyclists so they don’t need to climb the stile, plus some landscaping that we will do next winter.
A further round of lizard monitoring was completed in December. No results in yet.
I walked the entire coast over the last two days, and cleared about 50 flowering horned poppies, and probably about 1000 plants. And there is a patch of seedlings that I didn’t have time to start work on. But while that’s a lot of plants, we used to be able to get that many in an area of a few square metres, and in some areas I searched and found not a single plant. So I’m very happy with progress. We need one more walk through in late January to ensure there are no flowering plants, and a working bee to tackle the last remaining dense patch of seedlings.
I also removed about 500 lupins. They are starting to recover from last year’s die-off, but there are areas that they haven’t invaded, and there are still a lot that are easily pulled.
I had my workmates out for a combined working day and team building event in December. We found and mulched the Muelenbeckia astonii plants that we had put in along the river between the carpark and pumphouse. The grass growth has been amazing, and despite them being mulched on a previous event, a lot of the time was spent searching. They now have wool mats, so will be much easier to find next time hopefully.
We have three public events organised:
We are hosting a Hutt Library event on 26 January. https://library.huttcity.govt.nz/…/spyd…/MSGTRN/OPAC/WHATSON
Explore Baring Head
Baring Head Saturday 26 January, 1pm-4pm
Join the Friends of Baring Head and Hutt City Libraries for an afternoon of marine fun!
There will be storytelling, crafts, and beach-combing. Great for all ages. Families welcome.
Meet at the Baring Head carpark. Please bring water and snacks.
The precise format hasn’t yet been worked out, and will partly depend on the weather, but offers of help on the day would be gratefully received.
Then there are the two official GW summer events: an evening walk on 2 February and a 4WD trip to the lighthouse on 2 March. The latter one usually books out early, so if you or a family member want to take advantage of that, book now. http://www.gw.govt.nz/events/?month=mar&year=2019 Again, it would be great to have helpers for these events.
We can do additional events, and GW will add them to the on-line calendar. I’m hoping to do one more event in each of February and March.
Mark is trying to get everything organised for handing over to a new ranger, so we haven’t set a date for a January working bee. But I’m happy to organise a work day – day or overnight – if you have a small group of family or friends wanting an excuse to go out. And that way you can pick the date and decide what jobs you enjoy doing.
Volunteer base and visitor information
We’ve been gradually converting the garage into a volunteer base. I’ve been buying op shop furniture, and Mark delivered the last items on New Year’s day, and Helen and I cleaned and re-organised. So we now have a base that is comfortable for up to 7 people. It certainly makes a huge difference to be able to do summer work at dawn and dusk, and then lounge in the shade with a book (we have a small library with an eclectic range of titles) through the heat of the day.
After further discussions it was agreed that in the short term we would put some information on coreflute posters to go outside the buildings, rather than rely on volunteers opening the visitor centre. That’s a job I need to get done over the next week. But we will also have additional information in book form, and when we have volunteers out there we will open the generator house, and put out more seating under the trees, to encourage people to spend more time there and learn more about the area, and hopefully become supporters.
I don’t have many people on my roster for using the volunteer base for the next few months, so if you are interested get in touch.
I’ve also attached a picture of spinifex female flower heads, and one of a single marram plant that has been hiding out on the sand scree below the lighthouse. The spinifex is now in full flower, and starting to look magnificent.
We have four dune “grasses” – spinifex, marram, sand tussock, and pingao.
Spinifex is the native dune-stabilising grass. Unusually they have separate male and female plants. At this time of the year the genders are easily distinguished – the females have the tumbleweed seed head, and the males a flower head that looks more like an oversize branched barley head.
Marram is the introduced dune grass. It was brought in to control dune movement, and has spread and become a pest plant. It is a problem not just because it displaces the native plants, but because it creates a different dune profile to the natives, altering the way the coast works. We have now removed most of the marram patches, but there is one remaining area at the bottom of the pylon track that will be sprayed this year. And one plant on the sand scree that I will gradually remove by hand.
It is a more spikey plant, and the easiest way to tell the difference between marram and spinifex is that marram will poke holes in your legs as you walk past, while spinifex is soft to the touch. Spinifex spreads by producing long, thick runners that go across the top of the sand. Marram’s runners are thin and underneath the sand, sprouting up new tussocks at each node.
The third dune stabiliser is pingao. This is a sedge, with bright orange-yellow leaves. It’s scientific name is Ficinia spiralis, and the spiralis part of the name refers to the seedhead, which forms a spiral up the stem. Pingao has gradually disappeared from most NZ dunes, and is now classed as “at risk-declinging”, probably because of marram. We had almost no plants at Baring Head, but those we have planted on the south coast are now well established and flowering. So hopefully they will now naturally spread.
The other beach grass is our sand tussock – Poa billardierei. The common Wellington coastal tussock grass is Poa cita. This forms small tussock clumps, and is generally a pale bluish-green. At Baring Head this is largely restricted to the escarpment and pasture areas. On the beach it is the rarer coastal tussock that is dominant. It is classed as “at risk- declining”, but on our beach is definitely expanding. It’s a distinctively golden shade. You can find stands of it near the Raoulia exclosure in Fitzroy Bay, and by the climbing rocks. Those populations appear to be expanding, and more and more individuals are turning up scattered along the dune edge on the south coast.
Focus for 2019
There are a number of major things that we hope to achieve this year:
Creating a Visitor Centre. We have designs and funding for stage one, and implementation is about to start.
Landscaping work at the lighthouse and in the carparks. We have plans for the lighthouse landscaping, and have done a first planting. I hope we can make significant progress on this, by doing site preparation in summer and planting in winter.
Painting the buildings. The first job is removal of lead paint, and Mark has a contractor ready to start that work, and has sorted out the technical issues. Dulux have agreed to provide volunteers to paint the outside of the main buildings and provide the paint, and our volunteers will do the smaller buildings and interior work.
Sorting out a business model for the accommodation, and agree on when and how to start using them. We have a lot more (expensive) work to do before they will be fully operating as paid accommodation – fire suppression system, sewage system, water supply, interior decorating, electricity, etc. Hopefully we’ll get at least some of that also done this year.
The Park Network plan is being reviewed by GW, and we will be working closely with them to ensure that the provisions for Baring Head are consistent with the operating model that we have evolved, including allowing non-volunteers to stay overnight.
Planting the river. Million Metres Stream funding will support 5000 plants going into the ground, using Conservation Volunteers to do prep and follow-up work that the ranger has previously had to do. I’m hoping that we can make some progress with the area near the bridge that we have started planting.
Keeping up the progress with horned poppies and doing some significant lupin control work. GW’s contractors will also hopefully complete the woody weed spraying along the river edges and coast, and we will remove a few small infestations that I have found and mapped along the river valley.
Propagating some rare plants for introduction in 2020.
I hope you can all find time during the year to get out and join us in what will be an exciting year’s work in a great place.
Friends of Baring Head
Tue, 18 Dec, 19:47 (2 days ago)
I was out at Baring Head today with my work team. We did some mulching of plants, and then held a team discussion on our work for next year up at the lighthouse (and delivered two more mattresses and some other things for the volunteer base). Very windy and hot, and two of our members suffered bad hayfever from the grass, but otherwise a lovely combination of work and voluntary work. We did struggle to find the small Muehlenbeckia in all the grass, but they now have wet wool mats, a fertiliser tablet, and enough woody material to stop the mats blowing away. So hopefully they’ll grow enough to be easy to find next time.
We drove across the new bridge. The contractors were just finishing the shaping of the new carpark, and by the time we came back down the hill it was all done and the machinery gone. There’s a bit more work to do on gates, but otherwise it is all complete, and the old bridge has already gone. We have started discussions on landscaping of the carpark area and I’ll start some site preparation work this summer.
Mark is leaving us
Although not going far. He has accepted a senior biosecurity (plant pest) role in GWRC. We are both pleased that his skills have been recognised, and that he has been able to get a more senior role in an area that he is passionate about. But we are also very sorry to lose him. He’s helped transform the park in the period that he has been East Harbour Ranger, and ensured a cooperative and productive relationship between GW Parks and the Friends. Mark will move roles on 22 January. GW will be advertising for a new ranger.
Congratulations Mark, but we will miss you.
We have been concerned for some time that the job has become too large for a ranger who also has the rest of East Harbour to manage. What started off as a small addition to an already full time job managing the northern forest and Lakes block, has become 60-70% of the ranger’s work. Every new project adds to what we can jointly deliver, but also to the workload for the ranger who needs to keep it all coordinated, manage all the contracts, and cope with the extra paperwork.
So when I was advised of Mark’s resignation, I wrote to the Chair and CEO of GWRC urging them to provide additional resources to Parks to allow them to maintain the momentum (a point we had also made in our long term plan submission). Our estimate is that East Harbour needs about 1.5 FTE now, and will need 2 in the near future as other new initiatives come on stream.
Chris Laidlaw has replied saying that they cannot put additional resources into Parks, but that there will be an effort to divert some additional resources to Baring Head, and we all need to work together to find ways to keep the work going with limited resources. While disappointed, we do appreciate that it is difficult to find new resources. The response does, however, strengthen our view that long term planning needs to provide for a progressive increase in Parks budgets. We also agree that smart work is important. We will continue to work with Jimmy Young (the principal ranger) and the new ranger to identify ways in which we can reduce the workload of the ranger, and make best use of our volunteer resources.
Chris’s letter also expressed their strong appreciation for the work the Friends have done. Which has only been possible because of the contribution made by all our members and volunteers. So give yourselves a pat on the back.
Summer volunteer work
A few volunteers have already agreed to spend a couple of days out at the volunteer base keeping an eye on the place and doing some jobs. More offers would be very welcome.
On our last outing we found a few flowering poppies in the Raoulia exclosure in Fitzroy Bay. So doing a check along the coast to stop seed production will be a priority. And walking the beach is always a pleasant duty.
Another priority will be plant care work. NIWA are predicting a dry summer, so any assistance we can give to the new plants will help them survive and grow.
2 February is an evening walk to the coast. http://www.gw.govt.nz/baring-head-sundowner-hike/
2 March is the annual 4WD trip to the lighthouse. http://www.gw.govt.nz/baring-head-lighthouse-4wd-trip/ It usually books out early, so if you know someone who would like to do the trip, encourage them to book now.
We also hope to add in a couple of other events, which will also be advertised on the GW events page.
Thankyou all again for the wonderful support you have given us over the year, and I hope to see you out there sometime soon.
Friends of Baring Head
Dear members and volunteers
Next event – this Sunday
We will meet at 10 am at the Bridge carpark. Mark has asked that we help him improve the track markers. So we’ll have a great day wandering along the tracks putting plastic tags on posts, fixing any loose posts, and moving one post. If the weather holds, it will be a great chance to explore the ridges, with great views across to Wellington. Bring the sunscreen. If the weather changes it could be exciting. If you can come please let Mark know – firstname.lastname@example.org/
This is going well. I understand that the crane operator was very surprised by the wind, which was worse than anything he’d met anywhere else. That we have bad wind won’t surprise anyone who has attempted to unload their car in a strong northerly. Once the bridge is in place there will be a new carpark, and we can plant some shelter along the edges. We can’t do that at the moment because sheep are mustered through, but the new carpark won’t have that problem.
The locks on the gate have been replaced by new electronic locks. They work like a hotel door card, so Mark will be able to issue “keys” to a contractor or horse rider, and it will only be able to be used on the days the contractor is working. It will also mean Mark will always know who has been through the gate. I’m out there tomorrow, so will be issued a new key and get to try it out.
The asbestos work is all complete. Next big job will be painting, which will happen in February with Dulux volunteers doing the two houses and generator house. We will be doing the smaller buildings. We’ll also be continuing with landscaping work over the summer.
Isabel Gabites is doing final plans for an exciting new visitor centre in the Generator House. That won’t be in place this summer, but we are looking at how to provide more information to visitors in the meantime.
I met with the biodiversity officer recently, and he reported that he had his teams out doing some more woody weed control. Gorse and lupins particularly. Conservation Volunteers will be out there tomorrow doing some more horned poppy work, and I’ve been mapping weeds along the river that we can gradually pick off over the summer. In the meantime, feel free to pull out anything with a big purple flower – we don’t think purple ragwort is about to take over, but the less seed produced the better.
We have some exciting native fish in our river (and native mussels), and Mark, Rob and I have been discussing creating some refuges to allow them to hide from trout. In a healthy river there would be logs and tree roots along the river edge for them to use. A fish expert now working for Waikato Regional Council has designed some artificial refuges, and one approach that we could use involves placing pipes into the banks of the river, with branches added into the pipes so trout won’t enter. The bridge work has affected one section of river bank, so we will look at whether we can put some refuges in there as part of the rehabilitation work at the end of the bridge building project.
Plant care and more planting
NIWA is predicting a drought in the east this summer, so we want our plants to be ready to cope if that affects Baring Head. Our last event had a great turn-out, and we mulched a lot of the plants near the bridge with wool mats, branches brought down from the lighthouse, and water celery from the oxbow (an aquatic weed). I’ve given Mark seven more boxes of mats, and we have more tree debris to be moved out of the lighthouse complex, so we should be able to get the rest of the plants there mulched by Christmas.
On a recent visit I rescued 12 buckets of tauhinu from the road ditches, and they successfully made the transition to the nursery. Tomorrow we have Conservation Volunteers out there, and we will be putting in 40 akeake, and I will also try directly transferring a few tauhinu to sites near the wetland and see if they survive the shift. If that works, we can do a few more each time we are out there, and gradually create a few islands of native vegetation in the grass.
GW pest control and Mark have just finished renewing our trap system – checking and repairing traps, and putting carpet under them to keep the grass down. Tim Trengrove is now managing our trapping programme. A key focus this summer will be to improve our hedgehog control rate and ensure our dotterel chicks survive to fledge.
I would like to have a roster of volunteers staying up at the lighthouse over the summer. A few easy jobs in return for a free holiday in a great location. The base is now fairly comfortable, with mattresses, sheets and blankets, crockery and cutlery, and basic cooking equipment. No shower is the only disadvantage. If you are interested in staying there at any time, contact me.
In late summer we will have two official GW summer events – a 4WD trip and an evening walk. I’m also looking at the potential to do some other events during the summer, and working with Hutt Library on a library event for kids.
Friends of Baring Head
Five days of activity for conservation week
We had a highly productive long weekend, starting with the Million Metres planting on the Thursday before.
Lots of volunteers from three businesses – Green Cabs, Ricoh and the EPA. They got all the plants in, despite gale force winds. The first time I’ve been blown over during an event. And even said they’d like to come back. But they did have the sense to go and have lunch somewhere sheltered. Mark and I had lunch at the lighthouse, and then took another trailer load of shelter belt branches down to the river to use as mulch.
Friday, Colin painted the pumphouse windowsills, which we hadn’t done at the last working bee because we didn’t have the right paint. The wind had settled down and it was gloriously summery, so perfect painting weather.
Friday and Saturday, I planted the last 30 Muehlenbeckia astonii plants in several locations along the river valley. We only have two old plants left from the original population, so it’s great that we now have quite a few young ones in a number of locations. I also started removing the wires from the old plantings in the oxbows. Those have generally grown well.
And then did a survey of the weeds along the lighthouse side of the river, and looked for a small daisy (Leptinella squallida) that lives on open mud on the edge of the river. I’ve been worried that with the sheep out most of its habitat would have disappeared. I found two healthy populations and a few individuals, but probably only 2 square metres in total on that side of the river. I’ll discuss with GW what we do about it.
And Sunday we had our regular working bee, clearing poppies from the Maori land block in Fitzroy Bay. Another glorious day, and my first sunburn for the year. So remember the sunscreen if you are going out there.
Progress with the houses
Mark is expecting the work to finish by the end of next week – two houses and two outbuildings with new roofs, and all the asbestos cladding off. The new roofs look lovely.
Painting will now be done in February rather than October as originally planned. Which gives us a bit more time to get the lead paint off.
The bridge replacement has started
The selected contractor was keen to get started, and is expecting to have a new bridge and carpark in place by Christmas. The old bridge will remain in place until the new one is ready for use. There’ll be a bigger carpark, and hopefully cyclists will no longer have to lift their bikes over a gate. And I’m hoping that we will finally get some plantings into the carpark, including to provide shelter from the wind.
Car racing event
Our next event was going to be on 14 October, but there is a car racing event on the road that day, with the road closed to traffic, and the carpark full of their vehicles. Not something the Trust is particularly happy about. Last year they blocked access to the carpark, and we had to argue with them to be let through to get up to the lighthouse. This year they have promised not to do that, and to leave some of the carpark for our visitors. They also offered to distribute information to visitors on how they can get to the coast, given that a lot of people drive down there specifically to go to the beach.
Next event 21 October
So our event will be on 21 October. Not sure what we’ll be doing, but if I haven’t already done it, we need to mulch the new Muehlenbeckia plants so they have a happy summer and we can find them again.
Hutt City Council building, 5.15 pm. The main business will be a powerpoint (with lots of photos) reviewing what we have done, and what we want to do next. I have to admit that writing it made me realise just how much progress we have made, largely thanks to all our volunteers and funders.
Paula Warren// Chair// Friends of Baring Head//
Our AGM will be on Thursday 27 September, in the Turakirae Room, Ground Floor, Hutt City Council building. 5.15 pm.
The agenda will be:
Minutes of last AGM
Confirmation of new trustee
We won’t have a formal speaker this year, but will be reviewing some of the exciting things we have achieved and what we have planned, hopefully (Hutt City AV willing) with images, including of the interpretation and landscape plans.
Instead of using our AGM as our key event for members, we will be organising an event at the lighthouse complex once we have the houses re-roofed. So watch this space.
We are also hoping to arrange a series of speakers on lighthouse conservation in NZ and internationally, as a public talk in Wellington.
Conservation Week event
Our next event is 16 September, and we are promoting it as one of the official Conservation Week events for Wellington. Exactly what we will be doing is yet to be decided, and will partly depend on numbers and weather, but there will be either a beach or a lighthouse visit in there, so it will definitely be fun. Or perhaps both and even more fun. As usual, meet at the bridge carpark at 10am, wearing good footwear and carrying a coat (fairly soon I’ll need to remind people about sunscreen as well). Let Mark know if you are coming (email@example.com), so he can send you any updates and ensure there are enough chocolates.
I plan to be out there over the weekend, so if you have been looking for an excuse for an overnight stay, send me an email.
Our wonderful volunteer team finished the regular planting, and we have one more Million Metres Stream planting on 13 September. At that point we will have put in 2600 plants. Great work all round.
We’ve also started renewing the shelter belt around the lighthouse. Our last event put in some plants around the toilet, and mulched them so they look like a nice garden and will hopefully grow well. Rob (our biodiversity officer), Mark and I will shortly be finalising the landscaping plan, and deciding exactly where large trees will be put. The draft plan has a number of new pine trees in the main gaps, and then natives for the rest of the plantings. Mark and I will then gradually fill in the gaps with any plants we can source that are suitable, and remove the weed trees.
We are on track to have the lighthouse houses re-roofed, repaired and painted by late October.
Million metres stream fundraising
We have an ambitious goal for next year of over $46,000 and 5000 trees. That will cover the cost of propagation of plants, and also getting Conservation Volunteers to manage the planting work for us and the initial maintenance, as we don’t have the capacity to oversee that much planting. We only did 1500 this year (plus 1000 as part of our regular planting programme).
So far we are going well with the fundraising, with over $7000 already donated – check out the page for the list of donors and feel free to add to the list. https://millionmetres.org.nz/open-project/2019-wainuiomata-river-restoration-at-baring-head
Friends of Baring Head
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This will be at the beginning of Conservation Week, 16 September. We’ll decide what jobs most need to be done (and what the weather is suitable for) closer to the date, but will meet at 10am at the bridge carpark, and probably spend some time at the lighthouse and some time on the beach.
And don’t forget that volunteers are welcome to use the volunteer base at any time in return for doing some small jobs. Just email me to arrange that.
We’ve completed our normal planting programme, with about 1000 plants in the ground. Many thanks to the volunteers who helped with that, especially those who turned out for both days. Some slight hare and rabbit damage, but mostly the plants are looking good.
As an experiment, and because I felt guilty about putting cabbage trees at the top of the hill in a dry spot, some have been mulched with wool mats and cut lupin. It will be interesting to see if we can detect any difference in growth and maintenance needs. The lupins don’t give a lot of bulk, but they do break the wind and hold down the mats.
On the way down to the site last Friday, Colin and I looked at some of our past plantings. We have a scattering of ngaio along the river edge that were put in before the sheep were removed, and a number survived rabbits, sheep and floods. One now has a thick trunk and is taller than me. It’s a great reminder that it doesn’t necessarily take decades to transform an area.
The plantings we did last year opposite Khyber Pass have had varying levels of success. Overall, it’s the ngaio and club rush which survived and grew best. More loss of plants than I would have liked, but we have a healthy collection of plants that are going well.
We have also done one of the Million Metres Stream plantings, and the second will be in September.
On Sunday we started planting at the lighthouse, around the toilet. We put in about 50 Coprosma propinqua (the common twiggy shrub on the escarpment), and mulched around them.
Million metres stream project
Our target for next year is much higher than for this year, but we have been notified of a major donation ($15,000) which will make a big difference to our ability to meet the target. We need more funds for next year as we want to plant a lot more trees, and we will need to use Conservation Volunteers to ensure they all get in the ground. https://millionmetres.org.nz/open-project/2019-wainuiomata-river-restoration-at-baring-head
Lighthouse complex work
The concrete repair expert has been in, and filled in the big cracks in the garage floor, fixed the concrete rot in the generator house walls, and re-floored the small room that had disintegrating concrete. On the negative side, I spent a lot of the weekend cleaning concrete dust off everything.
The house re-roofing work is imminent, with the scaffolding probably going up next week. That work should be complete by early October at the latest.
Dulux have signed off the agreement that will have them providing the paint and volunteers to paint the outside of the main buildings, around 24 October. GW are arranging to have the lead paint removed before then. The insides will be gradually painted by volunteers, and we will also need to do the small sheds. Those will be good summer jobs.
Once all that is done, we will be able to safely use the houses for events. Already having the garage and generator house as accommodation and shelter is making a difference for our volunteer work, and the houses will make it possible to have full day events and school events and not worry too much about the weather, and to do events like art courses that need space for inside work.
Landscaping around the lighthouse
We now have a draft landscaping plan. Overall I was happy with the proposals, and we will meet with GW to get it finalised. The shelter belt has got a bit thin over the years, and by the time the weed trees are removed it will be even thinner. So filling in the gaps is an important job we need to get done. If we can get the right plants, I’d like to get the basic plantings (e.g. new pine trees) done this winter. I also want to do some grass removal, fertilising and mulching of existing plants so they grow better and the area looks better.
At the weekend I had a good look at the river, and was interested to see that we have some new islands that I’m sure were not there last year (they were just sand banks below normal water levels). It will be interesting to see how long they last. If I can get some toetoe plants, it would be interesting to put them in and see if they stabilise the islands and help them build. That would mean the river would have a bigger range of habitats. The big island by Khyber Pass has narrowed the river, producing a deep, fast channel on one side, and a shallow backwater on the other.
The retirement from grazing of the river edges has been great for the river, with bank slumping much less frequent. But the thick grass and sedges has largely pushed out our river edge turf species, like Leptinella. I will be doing a survey of all the river edge in the near future, mapping weed patches (particularly tradescantia), and seeing if I can find some surviving healthy populations of the turf species. Transplanting some to the areas that are still open near the river mouth might allow us to keep a significant population of those plants.
Chair, Friends of Baring Head
Planting days The Garage Project did our first Million Metres Stream planting on 20 July – 750 plants into the area between the road and the river near the coastal carpark. They had donated the money for the plants as well.
We had planted that area 2 years ago, and many of those plants were looking very healthy. The ngaio in particular had grown well. And there was good natural regeneration of sedges and toetoe, particularly where the gorse was sprayed.
The volunteers seemed to enjoy the day, and clearly for many it was their first time out there and doing that sort of work.
Last Sunday we did our first normal planting, on the opposite side of the river. A very good turnout of people, and the Wainuiomata News reporter was there to record the event. That got 500 plants into the ground on a perfect day. We have a second planting day on 19 August which will finish the job. We will also put some plants into the shelter belt at the lighthouse at some point.
The second Million Metres planting will be done by another corporate group on 13 September.
Million metres 2019 We are aiming for 5000 plants in 2019. The page has just gone live, so encourage anyone you know to donate. https://millionmetres.org.nz/open-project/2019-wainuiomata-river-restoration-at-baring-head
Inanga spawning site Sunday’s planting was next to the inanga (whitebait) spawning site. It’s in very good condition on that side of the river, mostly because has been fenced off from stock for a while. We have fenced the spawning site on the other side with a temporary fence, and have now decided to not remove it this winter, and instead see if it survives the floods. If it does, and we can keep it fenced off, we can think about doing some planting in there as well.
Poppies and lupins As you know we have been removing horned poppies from the beach, hoping to eradicate them. When we did our first south coast outing they were dense, and we could remove 1000 from a tiny area. The job looked impossible. On Saturday I searched a lot of the south coast beach and found only 6 plants. All were re-sprouts from bits of root that hadn’t quite been removed. I found no seedlings, and no adult plants that had been completely missed. That’s amazing progress. So we can now reduce our poppy work to a couple of outings a year that will be mostly (literally) a walk in the park with almost no grubbing. Well done all those who have contributed to that achievement.
Last year Mark and I were debating what to do about the lupins, and then the native kowhai moth solved our immediate problem by defoliating them all. Some have recovered, but most haven’t. On Saturday I found a fair number of seedlings, so we will start a programme to cut down any adults that look inclined to flower, and see if we can gradually make them a minor problem. That will be harder than with poppies as they have a long-lived seedbank. But that just means it will take a bit longer. We started the job on Sunday by cutting some near the planting site and using them as mulch for some lucky cabbage trees.
It’s all go up there. We have committed $120,000 for reroofing the two houses, and that will happen in August/October. GW will then arrange for the lead paint to be stripped from all the buildings, and then we anticipate that a Dulux volunteer project will paint the exterior walls of the main buildings in late October. After that we will be able to start using the houses for events, although it will take a bit longer to make them fit for accommodation.
The generator house is to become a visitor centre, and Isabel Gabites has provided an interpretation plan for that. If you don’t know of her work, she is the designer who did the interpretation material for the Owhiro Bay visitor building. We have committed $30,000 for interpretation materials for the generator house, which should be done by late summer.
In early August a concrete expert will repair the concrete in the generator house and garage.
Paula Warren Chair
Mark has done the spot spraying for our planting day on 29 July. We have lots of plants to get in, so will need a good turnout.
The Million Metres Stream project completed its fundraising objective, and the corporate sponsors will be doing the planting this year. The first working bee will be 20 July, and then another later in the season.
We have also agreed on the species to add into the shelterbelt around the lighthouse complex, and I will hopefully get that done in late July.
We now have a lot of ongoing pest control work, and have just had the latest monitoring report.
We have DOC200 kill-traps at 100 m spacing on lines across the site that are run by our volunteers. They target mustelids and other pests. More intensive predator control is undertaken behind the banded dotterel habitat on the coastal platform with a line of DOC200 kill-traps and Timms traps spaced 50 m apart. Traps are serviced fortnightly. These and some Timms traps were put in in 2013.
As part of the TbFree work, starting in 2016, possums are controlled across the site using Timms traps where stock grazing occurs and Pelifeed bait stations elsewhere. Although I can report that at Easter there was a very healthy possum in a macrocarpa tree by the lighthouse that had a taste for Easter buns. So at that stage we still had possums. Traps and bait stations are spaced at approximately 150 m intervals. Pellet baits containing brodifacoum are used in the bait stations.
Mice and cats are controlled in five core areas of lizard habitat on the Wainuiomata River escarpment. Mice are controlled using block baits containing brodifacoum in wooden tunnel bait stations spaced at 25 m intervals. Each core area has two Timms traps for controlling cats. This is a new programme.
We also have some pest control happening on the adjacent lands.
The latest small mammal monitoring (for rats, mice and hedgehogs only) has just been done by GW with help of volunteers. That system uses inked cards in tunnels on 8 lines – 2 on the beaches, 2 on the escarpment, and 2 on the lighthouse terraces.
No rats were tracked in this monitor, and we don’t often get rats in the tunnels. Although there are definitely rats at the lighthouse. We hav now put an A24 self-resetting trap in each of the buildings we are using, and when I cleaned them a couple of weeks ago I didn’t find any fresh rat sign. So our blanket-chewing friends may be no more.
The mice tracking rate continued to increase from 28 percent over winter last year (2017), to 44 percent in February, to 59 percent in the May monitor. The report we had didn’t speculate on possible causes, but it is likely that the retiring of land from grazing has resulted in better mouse habitat – grass seed and shelter in rank grass. But the numbers could just reflect natural variation in populations, and the numbers aren’t higher than in some past years.
Hedgehogs tracked on 12 tunnels across six of the eight lines. Hedgehogs are likely to be a significant problem for our invertebrates, for ground nesting birds (including dotterels), and for lizards. We catch a lot, but the numbers aren’t dropping noticeably, so there are now discussions on possible alternative approaches for these.
And speaking of invertebrates, an entomologist spent last weekend with his family and an exchange student in the volunteer base. No serious entomology done, as this was an initial scouting trip. But Eric reported that the big beetles on the beach that we often find under driftwood when doing horned poppies are darkling beetles. http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/local-insects/beetle-mimopeus-sp-family-tenebrionidae.html
They eat dead wood and other plant material, so under driftwood is a great place for them. It’s likely that there are also other large beetles, such as carabid beetles, but not spotted yet.
The key to invertebrate conservation is to maintain habitats, and we will be working to develop a habitat management plan. Some species need a general type of habitat – dead logs for example.
Others need something very specific. The caterpillars of the copper butterflies that are common at Baring Head feed only on Muehlenbeckia species, and we have lots of that. Red and yellow admiral butterfly caterpillars live on nettles, which we also have in increasing amounts. There will be special moths in our mat daisy cushion fields, and on pimelea plants on the climbing rocks. We may even have weevils in our spear grass plants, although no-one’s found any yet and they seem to have largely disappeared from Wellington.
And then there are the slightly fussy ones. We are now confident that our lupin die-back event was due to a native moth whose caterpillars feed on kowhai. The kowhai in the block were also defoliated, but have recovered. I’m pleased to say that much of the lupin hasn’t.
Some species will also be vulnerable to predators. Mouse predation seems to be the reason spear grass weevils are disappearing. So we will need to look at that in future.
Planning is now underway for the next block of work, and it looks as if we’ll have the basic work done on both the houses by the end of October.
Mark and I have now set the dates for the working bees for the rest of the year. We’ve also tentatively assigned bits of work, but we do also have a list of other tasks, so we’ll adjust what we do according to the weather, priority, etc closer to the time. For example we will probably have to fit in a lighthouse building painting day at some point. But the fence installation and planting won’t be shifting.
29th July – planting
19th August - planting and/or beach clean up
16th September – Dotterel Fencing /poppies and car park cleaning
14th October - Fitzroy Bay Poppies/Takarangi Block poppies
11th November - Poppies Takarangi block
9th Dec - Poppies/Lupin south Coast
January - install temporary inanga fencing and greater outdoor events.
Our last working bee started the cape pondweed control work. This weed is infesting the oxbow pools, and the long term aim is to eradicate it.
The original plan was to spray it, and GW applied for some consents. But for various reasons the years passed and we got no closer to having the necessary consents that would allow control at the right time of the year. And then it was decided that we would still have to do manual control after spraying, so we decided to just go straight to manual control.
Which isn’t simple. The plant has tubers, and we discovered at our working bee that they are quite deep in the silt, and that if you try pulling the top, it just breaks off. The plant is only visible when the ponds are full. And the ponds are only full in winter, when it is cold.
But we borrowed some waders from DOC, and were lucky to have a (relatively) warm and windless day, and the valiant volunteers took the plunge. We walked the length of the northern oxbow twice, taking off the flower and seedheads. That wasn’t too difficult, and no-one filled their waders with water, and no-one stood on a large eel. So as with horned poppies, we will hopefully be able to stop seed production without too much effort.
Then Mark put stakes into an area that has a lot of poppies, and when the water level drops in summer, we’ll go in and see what is the best way to remove tubers from that area, and then next winter have a look and decide whether we have made a difference to the density.
Mark and I both think that the amount of weed has already reduced since the area was retired from grazing, because in shallower areas the native aquatic plants (Isolepis prolifera) is shading the pondweed out. But of course the tubers will still be there, although they may eventually rot out if they can’t renew themselves.
We are confident that the roof replacement for the two houses will be completed by the end of October.
We are also hopeful that lead paint will be off all the buildings by then, and the main buildings painted, leaving just the outbuildings for us to do with volunteer labour. But we are still negotiating the arrangements for that.
The interpretation plan for the visitor centre/generator house is being written, and we’ll send it out to you for comment when it comes in as a draft.
The event on 29 July will be planting the area at the bottom of the river on the lighthouse side. GW are doing the spot spraying now. We have 1400 plants to get in and the holes won’t be pre-dug, so we’ll need a good turnout for that.
On 20 July the Garage Project will be planting a section of riverbank, as part of the million metres stream project.
Mark and I are finalising the plans for planting into the shelterbelt around the lighthouse, and I’ll get that done one weekend as an overnight exercise. If you need an excuse to do an overnight event and want to join me, let me know.
Friends of Baring Head
Dear volunteers and members
Long term plan submission
I’ve just come back from giving our Long Term Plan submission to GWRC. Our main points were that: Parks needs to get more money so they can keep up with the work we are generating for them. Mark is getting quite stretched between his core work, supporting the initiatives we have made possible, and doing work in the other two parts of his park. GW needs to put aside funds for river catchment work that isn’t just for flood control, including for a whole catchment approach to the Wainuiomata River.
Councillors expressed their thanks for the great work we are achieving, and seemed receptive to our points.
I had a discussion with Wayne O’Donnell (a senior officer) afterwards about the Wainuiomata River issue, and we will have further discussions on how to make some progress with a whole catchment approach to the river.
Coincidentally, I had a text from Mark just as I went into the hearing saying he hasn’t had time to do the spot spraying for planting. We’ve agreed that for the site we will be planting this year, that is important.
So the next event on 3 June will be taking Cape pondweed out of the oxbows and mulching the plantings we did late last year. Mark and I checked those recently, and while some have done well, they are all being overwhelmed by grass.
Cape pondweed is a new project, and we are still working out how best to do it. We’ll put one or two people into the water (hopefully in waders). We will first try using a fork to remove entire plants with their tubers. But if that proves tricky (which is my suspicion) we’ll go back to the original plan, which has us just taking off flower heads and then marking off an area to be dug when the water level drops in early summer. As with horned poppy, the aim is to stop new seed production while gradually reducing the existing population.
We have wool mulch mats and tree debris ready for mulching the plants, and we’ll use the cape pondweed tops or other water weeds as well. So we’ll need a good turnout of people to create an efficient process – find the plant, pull the grass back from it, mats wetted and put down, weed on top, then some logs.
Meet 3 June at 10am at the bridge carpark.
If the weather is unpleasant, we’ll go up to the lighthouse and tidy that area instead, and put in some shelterbelt plants. That will mean we can shelter in the buildings if it starts to get too cold or wet.
On Sunday a great team of volunteers helped Mark get the water tanks in, and then filled the trailer with more cut trees to go down to the bridge for mulching. Nice sunny day but windy. Thanks to everyone who helped out. Mark was very pleased with our work, and I’m very pleased that we will now have a supply of water for washing and similar activities. We’ll still need to bring drinking water up in bottles. I’ve put a couple of bottles by the generator house for visitors to refill their bottles.
The Thursday before that we hosted DOC and Dulux. Dulux are looking at what projects they might support in the Wellington region as part of their partnership with DOC, and we were keen to introduce them to the region’s most exciting project. They were shown through all the buildings, and given morning tea in bright sunshine with no wind. Their response so far has been positive, and GW is drawing up a plan that would have the roofs on the houses replaced and buildings ready for painting by late October by Dulux volunteers. Here’s hoping that Dulux do take the project on and it all happens. We can then do work on all the buildings and grounds.
On Thursday we also finally
Million Metres Stream project
We have already reached the funding target, and the plants are ready at the nursery, and some corporate volunteers setting dates for planting. So we’ll be able to make huge progress with our river edge restoration progress.
Hopefully see you on 3 June
Paula Warren Chair
We had a great working bee on Sunday at the pumphouse. Five volunteers turned out, which was the perfect number for the work that needed to be done – one person for each wall and one cleaning inside. It got its annual washdown and clean out, Mark replaced some rotted barge boards, I replaced the visitor book, we painted the new boards and touched up the paint on the walls, cleared the vegetation and rock from around it, and Mark weedeated the track up. It is now looking lovely again, other than needing new windowsill paint (we didn’t have that colour with us).
We had lovely weather. That did mean the chocolates tended to melt, but the walk to the pumphouse along the river edge was lovely in the sun, and the paint dried quickly. Great to see some of our plantings growing well.
The pumphouse event and the inanga fence work (see below) the day before were a good illustration of the difference volunteers can make in terms of how much the ranger can achieve in the time he has available for Baring Head. At the pumphouse Mark could concentrate on the carpentry work and do the weed eating, while we did the time consuming jobs like cleaning and moving gravel that don’t need expertise or safety training. With the inanga fence, having two people meant holding the mesh tight while putting in staples was much easier, even if my father would have been appalled at how rusty my fence stapling skills have become.
Million metres stream crowdfunding
Check out our page: https://millionmetres.org.nz/open-project/2018-wainuiomata-restoration-at-baring-head and encourage your friends to contribute. We aim to plant all the river banks over the next few years.
The inanga spawning site is near the coastal carpark.
Inanga are one of the whitebait species. The adults stay in the lower part of streams and rivers, and swim in mid-water in schools. Other whitebait species generally go further inland and spend their time hiding near the bottom and sides of the river. Inanga are the small fish you will see in the river if you look down from the banks. They are the biggest part of the North Island whitebait catch.
They spawn at high spring tides, putting their eggs into vegetation on the banks of the river. The eggs stay there until the following spring tide, then hatch and the babies swim out to sea. About 6 months later they return as whitebait. For the eggs to survive, they need to be at the base of rank grass, cyperus or other dense vegetation. Otherwise they dry out or are predated.
So we need to stop sheep and other things from damaging the vegetation before spawning time. But fencing off the part of a river that floods isn’t easy. The lighthouse side of the river is fenced off and has good vegetation now. But in flood, it is the carpark side that gets most of the trees and other debris that washes down, so we can’t have a permanent fence on that side. We have instead put in permanent posts, and will erect a temporary mesh fence each year, at about the same time as we take down the dotterel fence. We didn’t quite get everything ready in time for the start of spawning season this year, but next year will have it done on time.
I went out Saturday morning to help Mark put the fence up. That involved getting warratahs and wire mesh down to the site, putting in the warratahs between the posts that are already there, and then stapling and wiring the mesh on. That took two of us two hours.
The plywood finally came off the windows on Saturday. Then a volunteer and I spent Saturday night at the volunteer base, and we washed all the windows and some more of the inside. We went through about 80 litres of water, turning it all black – I suspect 50 year old generator exhaust muck. But the good news is that the bits that had been washed earlier have stayed pretty clean. The light coming in and the cleaning has transformed it into a quite pleasant place. If we have a volunteer up there, we can now have it open and used by visitors. I’ve bought some outdoor chairs that will go in there, so visitors can rest and eat their lunch out of the rain. And we’ll put in some interpretation material that we have prepared for other purposes as an interim until we complete the interpretation designs for the visitor centre.
Activities using the volunteer base
The Saturday night overnight volunteer, Owen, was up there to scout out night photography opportunities. Check out his photo of the night sky on our facebook page.
At Easter it was an entomologist looking at the potential for insect surveys and conservation work. He also did a night walk on the beach to see what turned up in the light of his head lamp. I’ve since had a discussion with another entomologist, and we will set up a weekend to look at what vegetation management we should be focusing on to provide habitat for rare insects that are likely to be out there.
So the volunteer base and generator house are definitely making activities that would have been difficult much easier. And it is certainly encouraging me to spend more time out there doing little jobs.
At the moment the volunteer base is still mostly empty, but I am sure we’ll eventually get to where you will have to book early to get a weekend outing. When Mark has time and a trailer we’ll get more mattresses and equipment up there, and it will then be fully set up and comfortable for 3-4 people, and usable for 6 (although admittedly chilly). So if you need a school holiday outing with your kids (or need to escape the neighbours kids), get in touch.
Sunday 20 May. We’ll be starting the planting season, or if it is too dry still, doing some mulching of last year’s plantings.
Chair, Friends of Baring Head, 021 101 4824
We need more volunteers for next Sunday ''' This email is mostly a reminder of our event on 18 March. We need to get the dotterel fence down, and so far Mark only has one helper (I am sneaking off on holiday to Gisborne). So if anyone can make it, please let him know – firstname.lastname@example.org.
10am at the coastal carpark. With a bigger turnout it should only take a couple of hours.
We had a great day yesterday for the official beachcombing event, although due to a muck up with the bookings fewer people than wanted to come. Bring sunshine, no wind, and quite warm (especially by the time we got up the hill). Nothing strange turned up, but Mark found some sea slug eggs which were something we don’t get a lot of there.
This is a water weed infesting the oxbow wetlands. The plan had been to spray it, but further investigation suggested that spraying would have to be followed up by mechanical removal, so we might as well skip the poisons and go straight to digging.
Mark and I took the chance yesterday to have a close look at the oxbows and discuss how to do this and what else we should be doing at the same time, and a wetland construction expert has volunteered to come and provide his advice on that. Surveys done by GW showed a lot of fish in the oxbows, and I’m keen to make them even better for fish that need to escape the trout in the river.
I’m clear that we aren’t digging them out in waist deep water in winter. I like my volunteer events to involve things like wandering the beach on a sunny day, not suffering. So I’ll do some flower/seed removal in winter, and we’ll mark the bits to be dug out with warratahs, and then we’ll come back when the wetland has dried out and the weather is warm, and do the digging. The tops will have died off by then, but the tubers are distinctive and fairly large, so that won’t be a problem. And then we will put in a few bits of the native wetland plants that are dominating the wetlands, and it should recover nicely.
So this will be a useful project after the poppy flower head removal season, when the evenings are long, and an overnight stay at the lighthouse beckons.
Chair, Friends of Baring Head
Here is the programme for the next four months. As well as these events, we will hopefully be having some ad hoc overnight events to make more progress at the lighthouse. If you would like to go out at a time that suits you, just let me know. And don’t forget the beachcombing event on 10 March – book through the GW website. If you can’t make that, I’m doing two talks at Hutt libraries during the week before then (Seaweek) on how to identify things you find on the beach.
All the working bees will start at 10am.
18th March Dotterel Fencing and Inanga Fencing
The dotterels should have finished nesting, so we’ll be getting in the dotterel fence. Tasks suitable for anyone, ranging from winding up the string to carrying the poles back up the beach. I won’t be able to attend, so we need a good turn out of people to make it a quick job.
We have also decided to try fencing to keep sheep away from the inanga (whitebait) spawning site during the season. That will require putting in two posts and some netting or wire.
Inanga spawn when there is spring tide in February to April (in our case only when the rivermouth is open). They swim up into the vegetation that is inundated at the high tide, and lay their eggs at the base of the plants. The eggs stay there for a month, and then h---- atch at the next high tide. They need thick vegetation (rushes particularly) to keep them moist and safe while they are out of the water. And they obviously don’t like sheep walking on them either.
Meet at the coastal carpark at 10am. Bring the usual stuff for working on the beach. If it is a particularly strong northerly, I recommend trousers and long sleeves as protection against windblown gravel.
As usual, please let Mark know – email@example.com – know if you are able to come.
15th April – Pumphouse work
We’ll do the annual wash down of the pumphouse, any repairs that are necessary, and maybe some other jobs.
'20th May – planting if wet enough
We have a lot of plants to get in this year, and will start as soon as the ground is consistently wet enough. If it isn’t, we’ll plan something else for May.
'3rd June – planting
Next event – this weekend
Our next event is this weekend, overnighting again. So you can do Saturday evening, Sunday morning, or stay over.
Mark can only do Sunday, so I will be meeting people at the carpark on Saturday at 4pm, and he’ll be meeting people at the gate on Sunday at 9am. If you are coming, please let us both know by email, and give us a way to contact you on the day just in case. My cellphone is 021 101 4824. And if you book to come and in the end can’t, please text or email me as soon as you know so we aren’t waiting for you at the gate. We don’t have cellphone coverage down there, but do at the lighthouse. If for some reason you are significantly delayed, I can walk back down to let you through the gate.
If you are overnighting, you’ll be able to take your car up to near the lighthouse, where it will be safe overnight. There will still be about a 10 minute walk, so bear that in mind when packing. The road is steep and mostly gravel, but safe for a normal car.
We’ll get up there and settle in, and then do some more cleaning of the generator house. We made good progress last time – removed all the rubbish, swept all the rooms, and scrubbed one room and the corridor. We left it open for the night, and the smell was much improved in the morning.
But we have two rooms that have old lino sitting on the floor. We avoided pulling it up as we had nowhere to put the remains safely. This time we will remove it and put it into large bags for Mark to take away. And then we’ll wash those two rooms down, doing as much as we can until we run out of the water we have in bottles for that purpose. And leave it to air overnight again. With that done, we’ll hopefully be at the stage where we can start using it as a day shelter. We are currently discussing the logistics of that – things like who opens it, security, etc.
For the overnight stay, we have the garage to sleep in if the weather is unkind. We got that all cleaned at the last event. We have enough bedding, towels, pillows and mattresses for 3 people and at a pinch 4. If we have more people, some will need to bring mattress and bedding. We have a table, two chairs, crockery, cutlery, one pot, one frying pan, and various other bits and pieces. There is drinking water in bottles. So depending on numbers, all you will need is food, a change of clothes, toothbrush, torch, etc. We don’t have a cooking stove, but Ellen is coming and is intending to bring hers. I’ll bring the fruit salad as usual. We have a polystyrene box and I’ll bring some slicker pads, so breakfast food will stay safely cool overnight.
Sunday we will do some more work on the beach, start clearing some of the old bits of trees around the houses, and put chips onto the path to the toilet. We have a school group coming in to mulch the new plantings by the bridge sometime soon, so I’ll be putting together bags of sheep manure and small bits of wood to go with the water weed they’ll be dredging out of the river and using.
We’ll be out by midday, but you can leave at any time on Sunday.
If you want to come but need transport, let us know.
You may have seen the report in the newspaper about the bridge replacement dispute between GWRC and the private landowner.
The Friends have signed the consent forms for the new bridge, as affected parties. We are satisfied that the old bridge is dodgy and needs to be replaced. Every flood we expect it to have been damaged or swept away. The new bridge will take heavy vehicles (the current one has a very low weight limit, which makes it much harder to get things up to the lighthouse complex), and be far less vulnerable in floods. The current plans have the new bridge built first, slightly downstream, and then the old one demolished, ensuring there is no period without a bridge. The new bridge will have a single span, so it won’t be touching the riverbed, and won’t have piers that can collect flood debris. As part of the work there will be an extended carpark. And hopefully some shelter for those days with strong northerlies.
In terms of cycling access, we are arguing for a new swingbridge to provide walking and cycling access across the river near the coast. That would allow visitors to walk to the climbing rocks or up to the lighthouse from the coastal carpark, without needing to do a potentially risky river crossing. And allow the cycle trail to avoid the road section. But of course getting a new bridge depends on us finding the money. And at the moment our fundraising focus is the lighthouse houses.
Paula - 021 101 4824
pwarren [snail] doc [period] govt [period] nz
Email Mark mark [period] mcalpine [snail] gw [period] govt [period] nz
Event this Sunday - Our last event made great progress on getting rid of poppies, and we have Fitzroy Bay pretty clean. This Sunday we will work on the southern coast. The poppies have been much denser there, and there will be a lot more seedlings, but our focus will be on anything big enough to flower this summer. So we’ll aim to cover all that bit of coast picking off the big plants. So there’ll be lots of exploring and less grubbing with luck.
We’ll meet at the coastal carpark at 10am. Plan A is to walk from there along the coast to the area under the lighthouse. Mark is checking the river, and if the mouth is still open and unsafe to cross we'll move to plan B, which we'll make up on the day. Bring sunscreen, hat, water, lunch. A coat just in case. We'll have hot drinks and snacks, gloves and tools. Email Mark mark [period] mcalpine [snail] gw [period] govt [period] nz if you are coming so we have enough equipment and food.
We have a corporate group coming in early December, and hopefully they will get the last of the weed work done.
Lighthouse work - If you are checking the Facebook posts, you’ll know that the first work on the houses is now underway. We are doing the garage and the old generator house, and putting in a temporary toilet (the loo with the view). The workers are currently removing the asbestos roofing, and will then re-roof, and do the carpentry work. We’ll then have a volunteer outing to do some of the jobs that don’t need expertise, probably in December. With luck, we’ll make it our first overnight event, staying in the generator house. That will allow us to do star gazing as well as working and exploring the area.
Summer walk programme - We have finalised our two official summer events. One will be beachcombing, and the other will be an evening walk to Fitzroy Bay looking at geomorphology. The dates may be different to those I put in the last email. They will be advertised by GW, and people will need to book through the GW website.
December event - As I said in the last email, this has been shifted to 17 December. Probably doing lighthouse area work, depending on whether the contractors have finished and the area is safe. Otherwise perhaps tackling another weed issue, or mulching plants ready for summer. Almost certainly featuring strawberries and Christmas cake.
Chair, Friends of Baring Head
Beach work - Summer is almost upon us, judging by the sunburn on my neck after Sunday’s event. Despite the hail as I was leaving home, we had sunshine, little wind, and a perfect day at the beach. We have now finished all the poppy clearing in Fitzroy Bay between the boundary and the private land. Not huge numbers, and mostly small plants. We’ll do one walk through of that area in January to check we haven’t missed anything that might produce seed. We also cleared a few bags of rubbish.
Our next job is to clear poppies around the climbing rocks and the southern coast. If we can get enough people to the next event on 12 November we should be able to polish it all off in one go, by focusing just on plants that could flower this year and ignoring small seedlings. Unless the river mouth is closed, I’ll ask Mark to ferry one team to the edge of the private land in Fitzroy Bay and one to the lighthouse (where it’s easy enough to walk down to the beach), and we can then meet up for lunch at the climbing rocks.
Lighthouse complex - The reason I’m keen to get the poppies done quickly is that work on the lighthouse complex is starting next week. After 7 years we have finally got all the ducks in a row and enough money for the first bit of work. So I would like our December event to be able to be used to do work up there if required. Note: the December event has been shifted to 17 December.
What we will be getting with our first bit of money is a temporary toilet, the garage restored, and basic work done on the building that contained the generator. With the garage restored we’ll have a base for our volunteer work – even the potential to camp overnight once the toilet is there. The generator building will become a day shelter for visitors, with interpretation. Stage two will be to restore the two houses, to create visitor accommodation.
We’ve had Victoria University landscape architecture students providing suggestions for how to do the landscaping around the buildings. What we need are areas for day visitors, a discovery walk for kids, a lookout, and “private” areas around the houses. We got some great ideas, and will be choosing the best of those to create a single plan for the area. With a plan in place we can continue the work we started on a previous working bee of clearing the paths and unwanted vegetation, while we fundraise for things like the lookout construction. We can also reduce the cost of the overall project by doing some of the building work that doesn’t require professional contractors – painting walls for example.
Summer walks programme - We are still finalizing our events for the Greater Wellington summer programme, but tentatively:
Sunday 21st January - Baring Head Evening Exploration, 5.30pm-8.30pm. We’ll walk from the carpark to Fitzroy Bay, looking at the landforms, and the work that we are doing.
Sunday 11 March - Seaweek beach explore, 10am-1pm. This will be beachcombing, with someone available to help identify what we find.
We got a good turnout for similar events in previous years.
Summer working bees - We’ll sort out some dates for the first few months of 2018 and let you know. Summer working bees are great – sunshine, fruit salad, melted icecream and pavlova instead of chocolates, and fun jobs, usually on the beach. And if you’ve got a group who want to go out and combine some work with play (work Christmas party?), let us know and we can arrange something for you.
Specialist volunteers needed - We have a few jobs that need people with training – we are keen to get some fit people who can do some easy weed work on the steep escarpment and scree slopes (an ideal way to get ready for that summer tramp), trained abseiller to clear weeds off the cliffs, tradies for building jobs at the lighthouse, and landscaping professionals. If you know people with those skills who need an excuse to get out to a great place, encourage them to get in touch.
Money needed - And of course we always need money. We will need about $1,000,000 to complete the lighthouse project. Lots of noughts in there, but we have divided it up into projects ranging from cheap to not cheap. So if you know a business or group that might like to help out, let us know. We have prepared a presentation explaining the lighthouse projects, and can talk to any group or business that might be able to contribute.
Paula Warren - Chair
Sunday at Baring Head
We had a great day, and the bad wind held off until we were heading home.
We were a very small group. The adults were myself, Mark and Veronika - a new volunteer who found us on Meet Up. And I had two young boys who were keen to come out, and whose parents couldn’t come.
We first planted the area by the river, just north upstream from the bridge. Some school groups had already done some planting there, and we added another 160 or so cabbage trees, ribbonwood and shrubs. Mark has a few broom still to go in, but that’s basically all the plants we have been able to find for this year.
I listened to the wind in the night, and Mark and I agreed today that we will purchase a few warratahs and some windbreak fabric and give all our plantings in future a temporary windbreak to protect them while they get over the shock of being taken out of their pots. Baring Head has a very different climate to the Hutt Valley.
We will also put a bit of windbreak along the fence at the carpark so you have somewhere to shelter while organizing for an outing.
Having done that and found a pair of boys who had decided planting was getting boring and moved on to the creation of a nuclear bunker under the karaka, we headed for the beach. After a pleasant lunch in the shelter we tackled the poppies, rubbish, beachcombing and (in the case of small boys) boulder climbing. In terms of beachcombing, Veronika and I were particularly taken by a Plagianthus divaricatus (the twiggy coastal plant that dominates the swale wetland at Fitzroy Bay) climbing up one of the big rock outcrops. It was hugging the rock, and had formed itself into a wave shape reflecting the way the wind hits the outcrop. The top parts were in slight shelter and were lush and covered in tiny flowers.
Looking at the first bit of beach while eating lunch we thought there were a lot of poppies by the boundary fence. But it turned out they were mostly thistles, and poppies are now quite rare. And no new seedlings except by the boundary. Areas that used to be dense infestations were down to 2-3 plants. But in the meantime the thistles and purple ragwort are moving in. We will have to think about what to do with those.
We managed about a third of Fitzroy Bay, and will hopefully get the rest done at our next event. And a few bags of rubbish out as well.
15 October. We’ll meet at the bridge carpark and head for the coast. Unless there is a strong northerly we will finish Fitzroy Bay. So come prepared for a day at the beach. Feel free to bring small children and make a family day of it. Even if they are too small for grubbing out plants, the more eyes there are the more rubbish and poppies will be spotted. And it’s a great place for kids to explore.
AGM Wednesday. Don’t forget to let me know if you can come and want to stay on for dinner.
Lighthouse project The first work should start next month. At the AGM we will be testing out a presentation showing what is planned.
We attended a presentation of ideas from VUW students for the landscaping around the lighthouse area. Some great plans, incorporating lookouts, discovery gardens, shelterbelts, and areas for visitors to relax. We’ll pick the best ideas and combine them into a plan to be implemented alongside the building restoration work.
As you’ll see below, we are looking forward to an exciting few months – finally starting the lighthouse complex restoration; achieving some more big gains on the coast, and getting a lot more plants in the ground. But we need your help to achieve that. So please come along to some events, and encourage your friends or clubs to join the effort. We can organize suitable events for groups on a day that suits them.
We’ve finalized the dates for the regular events for the rest of this year. See below. The details are all subject to change, and I’ll send updates closer to the dates, and put final information on the facebook page in the week leading up to the event. We will also have some school events organized with the Whitebait Connection, focused on riverbank restoration.
If each of you can commit to just one event, we’ll get a lot of work done.
We had a great turn-out for our big planting event, and had all 900 plants in the ground by early afternoon. Perfect weather, although a bit crispy first thing. We held back the manuka/kanuka, as the advice at that stage was not to plant any myrtacean species. There has now been a biosecurity decision that plantings can occur in Wellington, so those will go out at our next event, together with about 100 cabbage trees kindly provided by the Newlands community nursery.
We also have 50 Muehlenbeckia astonii. At Khyber Pass we have two plants left from the original population. We’ve added a few more seedlings grown from the seed on those plants (they aren’t producing any seedlings on site, possibly because of mouse predation of seed). The recovery group for this species has now asked that we plant a bigger range of North Island genetic stock, so we will be doing that over the next few years. The aim is to create another 10 or so populations across the block just in case something happens to the Khyber Pass plants.
We now have all the money and plans for the first block of work, and hope that the contractors will be starting this winter. The first volunteer work on the houses will be painting outside walls – probably in November/December. By then we should have a temporary toilet at the lighthouse, which will also be a great relief to walkers. We are obviously very excited to have got to this stage in what will be a complex and expensive project, and special thanks to the Stout Trust for their major donation towards the work.
Our aim this year is to have not a single poppy producing seed. We got very close last year, but there were some older plants hiding under lupins that might have managed to produce a few seeds. But this year the lupins had a big die-back event, so we can now see all those poppies, and we intend to have them all out before the lupins recover.
Our second aim for this year is to get the corner by the climbing rocks totally clean. We’ve made good progress, and with the lupins not feeling well we should be able to finish the job. The areas we have cleared are not showing any sign of becoming rapidly re-infected (I found about 3 tiny seedlings in the whole area on my last search), and the natives are rapidly expanding, so producing a weed free corner is looking quite achievable.
And Mark is due to spray the marram on the south coast this year, so we’ll only have spinifex, plus our newly planted and rapidly growing pingao, along the coastal edge.
We’ll also be putting a few more fenced exclosures along the coast to keep sheep out. We hope that will allow some of the existing native shrubs to recover and expand, and it will give us places to plant some of the missing species.
As many of you will know from experience, the rivermouth is a problem. It’s hard to tell whether it is open or closed until you get there, and can be unsafe to cross (or if safe, very cold and wet). We are beginning to discuss with GWRC doing fundraising for a swing bridge to go across somewhere just upstream from the coastal carpark. That would make beach volunteer work much easier, and provide a short, sheltered route to the lighthouse. Watch this space.
Thanks again for your support
Friends of Baring Head
Calendar of Events for Baring Head
Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Coastal Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Coastal Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Bridge Car Park
Meeting point: Baring Head Coastal Car Park
The next event is this Sunday at 10 am. The ranger has asked that we do work on the southern coast, particularly removing any poppies that might flower in spring. We’ll also check the pingao that we planted, remove any new rubbish, and expand some of our “no weed” areas.
The river mouth is closed, so we will meet at the coastal carpark and walk from there. Mark will bring the necessary tools, gloves, etc, but if you have gardening gloves you like, bring them along.
The forecast is looking good – sunshine, light winds. But you never can tell, so pack a jacket and the sunscreen. We’ll have some snacks, but bring a drink and lunch, and we’ll have that somewhere nice like the climbing rocks. This will be a good trip for kids, provided they can cope with an hour or so of walking on loose sand.
If you can come, please let Mark know mark [period] mcalpine [snail] gw [period] govt [period] nz and give him your cellphone number so he can text any updates.
If you need or can offer a ride, let Mark know. And don’t forget to persuade your friends – this is a great chance to have a day at the beach while the weather is still benign.
Planting This will be done on 11 June and 9 July. Spot spraying is about to start, and then we’ll do pre-digging just before the events. We’ll be planting a lot of the riverbank area, where gorse control has already been completed. Although this will be easier than last year (no nets in particular), we will still need a good turn-out of volunteers to get them all in the ground.
Three-year biodiversity plan We have now agreed our second three year plan for biodiversity work with the GW biodiversity and parks staff. Much of the work is continuing what we started in the first three years – running the trapping lines, controlling rodents around lizard sites, eradicating horned poppies, planting the river. And then making the most of what has been completed, like the fencing and stock removal. But we also hope to start some new work, including re-introducing some plants that have been lost and restoring the inanga spawning site. So we are looking forward to an exciting few years. We have funding available for much of the work, but several of the projects and the rate of work on things like gorse control will only happen if we can raise additional funds or significantly increase volunteer hours.
Lighthouse work We are closer to starting work on the houses, and it is now just a matter of exactly when, not if. We have also agreed to implement some of the interpretation ideas provided by the Massey students.
Hope to see you Sunday
Regards Paula Warren, Chair, Friends of Baring Head
Dear wonderful volunteers
It’s planting season again, and we have decided to start early and get the island in the river planted before it floods. Assuming it hasn’t flooded before Sunday.
So Sunday we will fertilise the plants along the lower river, plant the island, clean the pumphouse, and replace a board that has rotted out and do any other repairs that are needed. And inspect last year’s plantings and anything else we feel like on the day. The forecast is looking good, so it should be a nice day exploring the river.
Meeting 10am at the bridge carpark. Come prepared to get your feet in the river. Please let Mark know (Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org) if you can come, so I can ensure there is enough cake and tools. I think it might be cake and fruit salad this month – make the most of the end of the summer fruit season. If you need or can offer a ride out, let Mark know.
The events after that will be doing the serious planting work. 14 May, 11 June, 9 July.
The spot spraying will happen soon, and the holes will be dug before each event when we know how many people we will have and what we can get in. Mark and I will then lay out the plants so we are sure the right plant goes in the right place. And we’ll only get as many plants from the nursery on the day as we are sure of getting in. We don’t have huge numbers of plants this year, but we will need good numbers of volunteers for each event to get them in. The good news is that we won’t be bothering with the hare nets. So please put at least one of the dates in your diary and bring along some friends. And if you have a group that would like to do a planting event (e.g. scouts), we can potentially do an event on a day that suits them.
Other news We are very close to starting some real work on the lighthouse houses. We have some funds to pay for the detailed work planning and consent work, and have almost finalized how that will be done. And then we can finally start the physical work. As you can imagine, the trustees are feeling really excited about this. It’s hard to remember that a few years ago we were still worrying that they might be demolished.
And in the meantime we will do some work on the landscaping. We have agreed that we will put a native plants garden up there, with labelled plants so people can get to know both some of the dominant grey scrub plants, and see some of the rare plants that are now represented by only a few individuals hiding out in places the sheep couldn’t reach.
We have also finalized an overall plan for the biodiversity work for the next few years, with a vision for each part of the park. We are now pricing that ready for the next round of fundraising and GW business planning. Looking at what has been achieved so far has reinforced for us just how much work the volunteers have done in a relatively short space of time. I’m sure we’ll achieve even more over the next three years.
Paula Warren, Chair, Friends of Baring Head
We’ve now set the programme of events for the next few months.
The next event is on 12 February. The current plan (which may change if there is another strong northerly) is to do various jobs, including cutting weeds around the plantings by the river and putting stencilled lighthouses over the tagging on the concrete blocks in the old DOC carpark at the coast. Or maybe remove the dotterel fence if the chicks are old enough. Meet at the coastal carpark at 10am. We’ll have all the equipment, tea, coffee and morning tea. As usual, if you can come let Mark know – email@example.com. And if you need a ride out, or can offer a ride, let him know that.
12 March If we haven’t already done so, we’ll remove the dotterel fence. Alternatively, we’ll wash down the pumphouse, remove the nets from around last year’s plantings and do any other jobs in the valley.
We also hope to run an evening walk in late March. We’ll probably repeat a walk we did last year that proved popular – walking from the carpark over to Fitzroy Bay, looking at geomorphology and geology on the way. We’ll pick an evening when there is a low tide so we can explore all the beach.
9 April Probably working up at the lighthouse. By then we will hopefully have a plan for the first stage of the work on the houses, and we will certainly have a plan for the gardens. One suggestion from a visitor that we will pick up on is to put a rare plants garden in at the lighthouse, so visitors can meet some of the special plants that Baring Head is home to.
14 May We’ll be getting ready for the planting season. We have a lot of plants to get in this year, but the good news is that contractors will be planting the difficult sites and we get river bank where the digging is easy. We also get to plant the little island this year, which should be fun (as long as the river is low of course). So this event will be mostly digging and doing other work ready for the two planting days.
11 June and 9 July Planting days.
Update on the work We had to cancel the January event due to weather – something that happens surprisingly rarely. But while the unusually wet summer hasn’t made the beach great for people, it does mean we don’t have to water the plants this year. The grass is still green and there is good growth on the plants that have been protected from stock browsing by the new fences.
If you haven’t been out lately, you may not be aware that we have now fenced off all the river edge, a lot of the river flats, much of the valley escarpment, the wetlands in Fitzroy Bay, and a patch of coastal vegetation at the southern end of Fitzroy Bay. Contractors have also done a lot of gorse control in parts of the valley and on the escarpment. So we have a lot of sites now ready for planting. It will be interesting to see the way the vegetation changes now that the sheep are out.
We are continuing to run the trapping lines – Colin got 5 possums on Saturday on his line – and there are also bait stations now to reduce mice in the key lizard areas. Mark reports that none of the plantings have been browsed, so the possum control is working.
On Sunday we braved the wind and did a poppy patrol in Fitzroy Bay. Many thanks to Kate for joining Mark and me. I walked from where the road meets the beach nearly as far as the private land, and only got a few hundred plants and about five with flowers. There were some denser patches at each end of the beach, but we grubbed out most of them, and few were flowering. So we really have cracked that problem, and I hope that next summer it will just be a matter of a nice walk along the beach in early December and again in February to ensure nothing gets to produce seed. And we found very little rubbish.
Less pleasing was the vehicle damage on some parts of the beach. This has to be the result of people who have a key to the gate choosing to go off the road. The Friends will be asking GW to tackle the problem. Inside our new beach fence the old vehicle tracks are starting to be colonised by native plants. It only takes one vehicle to prevent seedlings from establishing and kill sensitive plants like Raoulia (vegetable sheep) cushions.
On Saturday I spent a few hours clearing lupins from the area near the climbing rocks. We had started this job in a working bee last year, and the areas cleared then are still clear – I removed very few small lupins, and I suspect that most of those were just missed because they were smaller and among other plants. We now have a large area there which has almost no weeds of any sort – just native grasses and cushion plants. And those are rapidly filling in the gaps. With your help we can keep expanding those clear areas. We will put some temporary fences around some cleared areas to keep the sheep out, and start reintroducing some of the coastal plants that are missing from the area, or only found hiding on the rocks. The climbing rocks area is a great place to while away a summer morning. I alternated weeding with picnicking in the shade of the rocks, beachcombing, and talking to some of the many visitors enjoying the perfect weather. The sea was calm, the tide out, and I got to explore some of the coast that is normally inaccessible.
Thanks again to those who helped out last year. How much we can do is entirely dependent on how many volunteer hours we can put in. So we are really grateful to those of you who can come out. We appreciate that it is a long way to travel, so if there is anything we can do to make volunteering easier for you, let me know.
Paula Chair Friends of Baring Head
We have now set the work plan for the next two months.
14 January The official guided walk. Thanks to the people who have volunteered – we do now have enough people to cover this. If you know anyone who might be interested in participating, encourage them to book:
29 January We will walk through all of Fitzroy Bay and remove any poppies that were missed last year. Meet at bridge carpark at 10am. Don’t forget the sunscreen and hat – with luck it will be a lovely day on the beach. We’ll be mostly walking in loose beach gravel, so good walking shoes recommended.
12 February Depending on which way the wind is blowing and how dry it has got, we will be either having a nice day at the beach near the climbing rocks, clearing more of the area we are targeting there. Or watering and mulching last year’s plants if that seems vital. Meet at the bridge carpark at 10am.
House repairs We are also sorting out some work for people with carpentry training, as we have a volunteer keen to start work on the buildings. If you want to be involved in that and have skills, let me know. That can either happen on one of the working bee dates, or we can set a date specifically for that work.
As usual, if you can come please let Mark know: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need or can offer a lift out, let him know.
We had a great year of volunteer activity last year. Thanks in anticipation of another great year.
Paula Chair Friends of Baring Head
Sunday 16 October. We’ll meet at the bridge carpark at 10am. The plan is to clear poppies from parts of the southern beach. How we get to the site will depend on what the river is doing on the day. If it is closed we’ll drive down to the coastal carpark and walk from there. If it is open we’ll walk down the valley, or Mark will drive us to near the site.
Please let Mark know if you can come, so he can ensure we have the right equipment. If you want to come and need transport, or if you can offer transport, please email Mark, (Mark.McAlpine@gw.govt.nz).
Being Spring at Baring Head, please bring clothes suitable for all possibilities. On a recent outing I got sunburnt and was hot in a t-shirt. But on another outing I needed my heavy coat. Strong footwear strongly recommended.
Dotterel fence We had a great volunteer day – lots of people, lots of sun, not much wind, and lots of dotterels. The fence was up by lunchtime, despite the leisurely morning tea break, and we then did some rubbish removal and lupin weeding and beachcombing and went home nice and early. One of the trappers reported that he thought he had seen some dotterel chicks on a recent visit, which would be very fast work by the parents. I’m hoping to get an ornithologist out there this weekend to see what they are up to.
AGM We had a successful AGM. The one significant outcome was that Joy Baird has unfortunately resigned as our chair – she now has other calls on her time that meant she didn’t feel able to continue. The AGM recognized with gratitude her role in helping to turn the Friends into a successful organization during its first five years. I was elected as chair, Colin continues as Treasurer, and we will need to find a new secretary.
We need more trustees We have a lot of exciting activities coming up, and need a bigger pool of trustees to help keep things moving. We are also particularly in need of people with skills in website management and social media work – as trustees or just as volunteers leading those particular functions. If any of you might be interested, or know someone who would be, please get in touch.
Post-AGM talk on the Wainuiomata catchment initiative Melody McLauchlin from the Remutaka Forest Park Trust outlined the work that is underway to connect the work of various organisations, including FOBH, into an overall programme to improve the river and the biodiversity in the valley. There is a limit to what we can do at the bottom of the catchment if the rest of the catchment is generating weeds, floods, pollution, etc. So we are very keen to help create this wider project.
Work plan for biodiversity We and GW have agreed the work plan for the next year. Key roles for us will be to stop the horned poppies from setting seed and gradually eliminate them; get some parts of the coast relatively weed free; and plant another 3-4000 plants along the river edge. Key projects for GW staff and contractors include spraying the marram on the southern coast; following up the boxthorn control; and completing gorse removal from the escarpment.
Work plan for the lighthouse complex We now have full agreement on what we are aiming to achieve, and in what order the work will be done. This will be an expensive project, so how quickly this happens will depend on whether the Friends can raise significant money for the work. In the short term we will be aiming to get the gardens cleaned up and re-planted.
Paula For the trustees 021 101 4824
Our next event on Sunday 11 September will be putting up the dotterel fence.
Banded dotterels nest on the coast near the coastal carpark, and we put up a simple warratah and string fence around the nesting area each year to encourage visitors to stay away from that area, to reduce disturbance and the risk that nests will be damaged. That work, with the intensive trapping programme, has resulted in a huge increase in the number of chicks that get to fledgling stage. The birds have started to arrive for this year’s breeding season, so we need to get the fence up.
The work involves carrying the fence pieces (posts, warratahs and rope) to the site below the coastal carpark, and then helping the ranger get the posts into the sand and the rope strung along them. So there will be jobs for strong people who can carry heavy items, and for kids who can help lay out the ropes. If we have capacity, we’ll also do a rubbish clean-up along that part of the coast, and hopefully also paint over the tagging on the concrete blocks in the old DOC carpark.
We’ll meet at 10am at the coastal carpark. We’ll finish early afternoon, but you can come for as short or long a period as you like. If you know you are coming, please let Mark know (Mark.McAlpine@gw.govt.nz). If you need a ride out, let him know and we’ll see what we can arrange. If you can offer a ride to someone else, let him know.
We’ll have gloves available, but if you have gardening gloves bring those. Bring your lunch, but we’ll have tea and coffee and some snacks. We have had bright sunshine for the recent events, but depending on the weather you might need a coat or sunscreen or both. If it is a strong northerly, wear trousers and long sleeves to avoid being sand blasted.
The event will happen almost regardless of weather, but if it is cancelled I’ll put that on the Friends facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Friends-of-Baring-Head-148506125227491/, and Mark will email anyone who has contacted him.
The October event will be on Sunday 16 October. We’ll probably be working on the south coast on horned poppies, but will decide closer to the time.
Paula 021 101 4824
We have made one change to the calendar, affecting the next event. We realised that we had scheduled the planting day for Queens Birthday weekend, and it would be better to shift it to the following Sunday, June 12.
This will be the major planting day of the year, and we will try to have the holes pre-dug so we can get a lot of plants (all the plants?) in on that day. So we’ll need lots of people. So even if you can only come for a short period, every little bit will help.
There will be updates on our Facebook page closer to the event. If you can’t easily use Facebook, let me know and I’ll email the updates to you.
We will also have some days mid-week ahead of the planting when we’ll be out there doing preparatory work. So if you would like to help, let me know.
Paula Warren For the trustees 021 101 4824
At this stage, unless the weather does something unexpected, we will be focusing on poppies and other weed control on the southern coast. The rain just doesn’t seem to be arriving, so planting is obviously not going to happen as early as we had hoped.
Our primary aim will be to remove all the remaining weeds from the spinifex edge of the southern coast. We’ve been focusing on that area on previous work days, and there aren’t many weeds left in there, except a big patch of marram grass that the ranger will spray at the right time of the year. But there are a few lupins, box thorn and other things that need loppers/poison treatment. The spinifex is expanding back towards the escarpment, and has flowered well this year. So by the end of this coming work day, we should have just native vegetation along the edge of most of the beach.
Other than that what we work on will depend a bit on how many volunteers we get and what people want to do.
It would be good to send a couple of people along Fitzroy Bay to take out any poppies that have come up since we last cleared it. Apart from the private land block, we have pretty much achieved eradication (in the sense of no plants producing seed) along the bay. With the permission of those landowners we have extended our programme towards Eastbourne into the Maori land block, so there is a buffer between the poppies on that part of the beach and what we have cleared. So we want to make sure that any more plants the come up are taken out before they flower. Surveillance along the bay is now a fun job for anyone who wants an excuse for a long walk on the beach. When we have the ranger with a vehicle, it can be done from the north or the south depending on the wind direction. But if anyone wants to volunteer to do that as an independent activity on another day, just let me know.
At both ends of the southern coast we have cleared most of the poppies on previous outings. But there’s still a nice big patch in the middle of virgin, dense infestation. The aim for 2016 is to get all that area cleared of old plants, so in December removing anything with flowers along the whole coast will be feasible. Hopefully we can clear a bit more of that on the 8th.
We did a beach clean-up last time we were out there. So on the 8th we will put in another beach clean-up station like the one we have in Fitzroy Bay, so walkers can drop rubbish off for the ranger to collect, rather than having to carry it all the way back to the carpark. We don’t seem to get a lot of new rubbish coming up, so if we can persuade the people who use that area to pick up a few bits on their way through, we should be able to keep the problem under control.
If you know you can come, please email me so we can ensure there are enough tools and morning tea. If you need more information ring me on 4713118 (work) or 021 101 4824. If you need a ride (from Woburn station), that can probably be arranged.
Looking forward to seeing lots of keen volunteers on the 8th
Thanks to those who came last Sunday. We had just enough people to get two important jobs done – removing the dotterel fence and loading the trailer with the results of the corporate group beach clean-up.
This Sunday we’ll be working on the historic buildings – washing down the pumphouse and then doing some more work on the lighthouse complex grounds. To make real progress we need lots of volunteers, so make the most of the continuing fine weather by coming out. And as an added incentive, the ranger will ferry people up to the lighthouse, so a good chance to enjoy that area without a long walk.
We’ll meet at the bridge carpark at 10am. As usual, if you know you can come, send an email to Mark or me to let us know. That way we can put in enough tools, buy enough cake, etc. But if you decide to come out at the last minute, we’d still love to see you.
Hoping to see you on Sunday Paula Warren For the trustees 021 101 4824
The weather is looking good, so we’ll take down the dotterel fence and pile the rubbish that was collected by the Z energy group onto the trailer for removal. So it should be a nice day at the beach, and you’ll have plenty of time to do a bit of beachcombing or sit and watch the waves. And if we have plenty of people we should be able to get some horned poppies done as well.
If you know you can come, let Mark know. If you need a ride, contact me (021 101 4824).
Meet 10am at the coastal carpark. If you are coming a bit later, you’ll easily see us working on the beach just below the carpark removing the fence.
Hope to see you Sunday.
2016 Calendar of Events
The work this year will focus on four areas:
The riverbank area has been fenced off, and stock will be removed from that area fairly soon. We need to make significant progress in planting that retired area, and have 4000 plants ready to go in near the wetlands. We hope to have the holes dug with a post-hole borer, which will make the job much faster. But our experience in earlier plantings has led to us deciding to try to get the plants mulched and watered as they go in, so they get a better start to life. So we’ll be doing some site preparation work in advance of the actual plantings.
The council has finalised general plans for the lighthouse complex, and the priority this year will be to get the grounds around the houses restored, and to weatherproof the buildings. Major works cannot proceed until funds have been raised, but we hope to at least have the funds to put in an interpretation centre and shelter for day visitors. The work on the grounds has started, and involves clearing the concrete around the buildings, restoring the rock garden in the middle of the driveway area, removing problem weeds from the grounds, and replanting areas.
We are making great progress in eradicating horned poppies from the coast. Fitzroy Bay is now largely clear (other than on the private land), but we need to do a quick walk through and remove any flowering plants about monthly over the summer. The area immediately around the climbing rocks is also fairly clear, and so are some patches of the southern coast (including all the seaward edge that has spinifex growing in it). Our focus this year will be to ensure that the cleared areas do not get any new seed, and to expand the areas that have had a first treatment.
Monitoring suggests that rubbish on the beach is relatively slow to accumulate. So we’ll get a corporate team to clear all the old rubbish on the southern beach (including a large fishing net and a number of ruined cray pots), and then we can just pick up any new materials each time we go through to do poppy control.
Many of the jobs can be easily done with no or little equipment, by individuals or groups who are out there to recreate. So if you belong to or know of a walking group, scout group, people who like going out to bike, climb or fish, or anyone else who needs an excuse to visit a wonderful place, they could easily help with these jobs. For example climbers walking in to the climbing rocks can easily pull out any new poppies from the cleared areas, or pick up any rubbish and put it where it can be collected by the ranger. Anyone who wants an excuse to get wet can remove weed from the river and put it in bags for the ranger to collect for mulching plants. Poppy checks in Fitzroy Bay are easily done by a walking group, as the flowering plants are fairly infrequent and easily spotted.
We’d also love to have a group of gardeners take over the lighthouse gardens (gate key can be provided to make access easy).
And of course if you have a club or corporate group that would like to arrange an event to suit, just get in touch with Mark (email@example.com).
All the events will be advertised on the Friends of Baring Head Facebook site and also the at Greater Wellington Regional Council event page http://www.gw.govt.nz/events/ . For updates, including cancellations and detailed arrangements see the Friends Facebook page.
4th March – 20 corporate volunteers. Continue removing horned poppies and rubbish between Wainuiomata River and climbing boulders. If have time continue past boulders.
27th March – FOBH working bee. Clean pump house and then head up to lighthouse and continue clearing paths and start removing weeds. Also a quick walk-over of Fitzroy Bay near road end to remove any poppies with flower heads.
3rd April – FOBH working bee. Remove dotterel fence, paint over the graffiti on the concrete blocks in the DoC carpark, and do a clean-up along that part of the coast, including removing any flowering horned poppies.
Small Mammal Monitor over 3 days. Contact Sara Moylan if you would like to be involved Sara.Moylan@gw.govt.nz .
8th May – Starting planting if the ground is wet enough. If not either planting site preparation work, or further work on the lighthouse complex gardens.
Late May – potentially a further working bee to do planting site preparation.
5th June – Planting around wetlands.
Late June – Potentially a further working bee to do planting site preparation ready for the July planting day.
3rd July - Planting around wetlands in Baring Head. Backup date of the 17th in case of bad weather or if all plants not yet in. If planting is completed before then, continue with Lighthouse complex work.
Small Mammal Monitor over 3 days. Contact Sara Moylan if you would like to be involved Sara.Moylan@gw.govt.nz .
14th August - FOBH working bee. Continue lighthouse complex work.
11th September - FOBH working bee. Install dotterel fence and signs on Baring Head beach, remove rubbish, and remove any horned poppies. BNZ stop for good - Apply and use where needed.
16th October – FOBH working bee. Horned poppy removal from southern coast and lighthouse garden work. Walk through of part of Fitzroy Bay to remove any poppies that may be able to flower before Christmas.
Possibly an additional day in late October to continue horned poppy removal from southern coast.
Small Mammal Monitor over 3 days. Contact Sara Moylan if you would like to be involved Sara.Moylan@gw.govt.nz .
13th November – FOBH working Bee. Horned poppy removal from climbing rocks end of Fitzroy Bay and cleared part of southern coast. Possibly an additional day in November to remove more horned poppies.
11th December - FOBH working bee. Horned poppy removal and beach clean-up on southern coast near river mouth. Aim is to ensure no seed can be produced, so depending on how many poppies are left, possibly focus on cutting off heads rather than digging the plants out.
Late December – walk through of Fitzroy Bay and the cleared part of southern coast to remove any new flowering plants.