This summer, Forest & Bird have been running a series of walks to various parts of the region. Today the bus trip was taking us to Heritage Lodge in the Western Ruahines, run by the Deerstalkers Association. We were met at the carpark by a member who told us that there are not so many (exotic) deer by the river flats in this area these days. It seems that many of the deerstalkers are just as interested in preserving other wildlife, especially the endangered blue duck which is found in upper reaches of the river. The deerstalkers are heavily involved in a scheme in which trap lines are being laid to catch stoats and rats, in the hope that blue duck will be able to extend their range.
It was a gorgeous summer's day, sunny but not too hot. The first part of the walk was over farmland on which quite a lot of bush regeneration is happening, and we had beautiful views of the ranges in all their rugged beauty.
Here is one of the traps, a DOC approved design, that obviously caught something if you look at the tail. If you are horrified by trapping, I am sure you will get over that if you read a little about the impact these introduced animals, especially stoats, are having on our endemic birds.
We were warmly welcomed into Heritage Lodge and people ate their lunch there. Well, at least most people ate their lunch there: I had got my wires crossed and thought I was on a half day trip so had just brought a snack with me. Then we had the options of relaxing in the hut, taking a 'hard' walk down to the river and back up, or taking an 'easy' walk along the ridge line. I opted for the easy walk!
We arrived back in town at about 4:45. Fortunately for the others involved in my Sound of Music rehearsal, this did give me time to whizz home and have a shower first!!
For those who would like to know more about the Oroua valley stoat trapping project, there is a pdf file you can access part way down this DOC volunteers page, under the "Oroua Valley Stoat trapping project" heading. Actually, I found this whole page quite enlightening... I had no idea I could volunteer to do some of these things!!