Bay Bush Action continues to trap pests that threaten native birdlife at Ōpua, but the big news now is that bats and bitterns may be in the process of re-establishing themselves.
The presence of bats has been confirmed 15 years after a police officer found himself in the midst of a flock of them while he was on Oromahoe Rd, waiting to intercept a fleeing thief. Having heard the story, albeit all those years later, BBA borrowed some bat detection listening devices from DoC and put them out along the road — "and bingo! We got one bat pass."
A lot more work will be done over summer, the organisation hoping to find more, and perhaps their roost tree so it can be protected with predator traps.
Meanwhile the sighting of a bittern (matuku hūrepo) just outside the pest control area has also caused great excitement. The birds were recently added to the Nationally Critical list after it was found that their numbers had plummeted to less than 1000. Next month BBA plans to use the same bat detection listening devices, but on a different setting, to pick up the booming noise the matuku hūrepo makes, the hope being that there is a breeding population that can be protected.
Meanwhile two ferret sightings at Waipapa are of major concern, a spokesman saying a ferret with a taste for kiwi was like a fire ripping through a hay stack, leaving very little behind.
"We believe the main reason Northland has more kiwi than places like the Waikato is we have very few ferrets," he said.
"We really hope the NRC and DoC work together and have a well-funded emergency response plan for when sightings are reported, and don't just leave this work up to community groups. A 'know your mustelid' education campaign would also really help the public learn the difference between a ferret, stoat and weasel."