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Rat Plague on Stewart Island

Lots of Food …… Downside

The mast year we’ve enjoyed this summer was always going to have a down side, and in particular we braced ourselves for the expected rat explosion. And it’s happening now.

We have a number of conventional traps ans well as several “Good Nature” traps at both Sails Ashore & Kowhai Lane. And they are working well.  In the last couple of weeks the 5 traps at Kowhai Lane have caught 8 rats, and the 6 at Sails Ashore have had 7 killed as well. Two this morning at Sails Ashore alone. 

We don’t use poison, as the buggers always die in places we can’t get at…. and they stink for ages. 

There is still lots of food available, both Rimu fruit and the Coprosma species. So I guess the trapping will go on for some time yet. Actually we have to trap continuously but returns are generally just a kill a week. 

A trapped rat at Sails Ashore, Stewart Island

The only good rat is a dead one.
But there are lots more out there… all hungry

Kukupa, Sails Tours, Stewart Island

Upside … lots of food for Birds

But all this available food has been good for our fruit eaters. Generally most of our Pigeons or at least a significant number of them will cross Foveaux Straits and winter over in the various Southland Forests. In February we would start to see them flock up, sometimes as many as 40 or 50 in a loose group, perched or flying backwards and forwards across the village.  I’ve never seen it, but the old fishermen told me they would occasionally see a flock in the middle of the Straits, heading north. I’d always presumed it was about food, as generally our winter temperatures are a bit higher than the mainland.

Maybe it Is Food.

This year the pigeons didn’t really flock up, and there are still very large numbers around. Their swooping displays are still happening regularly. I’ve never managed to film one, but found this video on YouTube. Not sure why they do it, but presumably a breeding display, as we start to see this spectacular display around Mid Summer when they seem to breed here. But why it persists at this time of year is a mystery. The high numbers I can only attribute to the huge amounts of available fruit.  Lots of Tui and Parakeets as well, as I suspect they too had a very successful breeding year. 


NZ Garden Bird Survey


Each year Iris spends an hour or so doing the Landcare Garden Bird Survey,  It’s open until July 7th and anyone can do this, just follow the link above.

And no, she didn’t do it by our bird feeder, she sat in our back garden.

Last Sunday, between 1340 & 1430 she recorded the following…. 


9 Tui,
2 Bellbirds,

2 Kaka,
2 Fantails,

1 Dunnet,
8 Ring Eyes,

1 Finch,
2 Warblers,

1 Pigeon,
2 Red Crowned Parrakeet.