Bringing the birds back to the Cleddau and Milford areas
Aerial views and trap layout map of the Cleddau Delta, Milford Sound - click to enlarge
During September 2007 work began on the project in a 40 ha area of coastal forest covering the old Cleddau River delta at Piopiotahi/Milford Sound - a total of 27 different bird species were recorded which included the fantail, bellbird, tui and South Island kaka. The project, run in conjunction with the Fiordland Conservation Trust and the Department of Conservation, was in its first years funded by Eco Tours Ltd and Cruise Milford.
The aims of the project from its beginning in 2007, were to:
- control introduced animal pests to a level that allows native birds present to breed and fledge young successfully, leading to a general increase in birdlife around Milford Sound;
- create a potential site where threatened birds may be reintroduced in the future;
- trial trapping and baiting methods to prevent the continual interference by mice that set off traps and take bait making them ineffectual;
- complement wider stoat control programmes maintained by the Department of Conservation and other businesses and community members in the Cleddau area, and as part of the Clinton/Arthur/Cleddau Operation Ark site;
- install some possum kill traps along the tracks that could be serviced when the stoat and rat traps were checked;
- repeat bird count surveys and compare with 2007 results
Since 2007, a network of rodent bait stations and stoat traps has been laid out, and during the set up phase, possums were also trapped in the area. These trap lines have been checked with volunteer help on a mostly monthly basis depending on the time of the year, and whether there has been a beech seed fall in the preceding season. This event (a beech mast) occurs irregularly, approximately every 4-8 years, and creates a boom in the breeding of rodents which has devastating impacts on the survival of many species of birds, bats, insects and reptiles.
In 2012, Trips & Tramps proudly adopt the project
In announcing the new relationship with the Trust, the owner of Trips & Tramps, Steve Norris explained, "our partnership with the Trust and the DOC will ensure a co-ordinated approach to pest trapping in the Cleddau Valley and Milford Village. It demonstrates how everyone can be involved in conservation, no matter what size business.
We are a small, family run business with limited financial funds, but what we do have is a whole lot of time and passion for the area in which we operate. This resource is just as valuable for achieving conservation projects and we look forward to seeing the results."
Continuing a fine conservation tradition
In 2009 Steve's conservation efforts were formally recognised when he received the DOC Southland Individual Services to Conservation Award “for his consistent and dedicated leadership in community conservation efforts, his tireless enthusiasm as a keen conservationist influencing tourists, Kepler challenge runners, friends and family, and for being instrumental in pest-trapping programmes".
In 2010 Steve Norris, a long term employee of Trips & Tramps, and his wife Kate purchased the local tourism company begun by Dave and Naomi Hughes in 1988. Specialising in small group guided tours in Milford and around Fiordland, Trips & Tramps has always been based on strong family, community and conservation values, satisfied customers and strong local support.
As Steve and Kate have said, "at Trips & Tramps we strive to actively support awareness, appreciation and preservation of the natural Fiordland environment. Our reliability and dedication to pest trapping in the Cleddau Valley has seen us maintain a line of traps for the past 10 years. Our guides have also opted in by volunteering their free time, meaning we have been able to take on more traps in the Milford Sound area.
Today with the help of the Fiordland Conservation Trust we have the area covered. This commitment to predator control will ensure the Milford Sound area can support a vibrant native bird population for all visitors to enjoy."
To read more of the Cleddau and Milford Trapping Network news go to Milford Trapping Network news archives.