Archive for the ‘cards’ Category

A new roof over our heads

June 20, 2020

It’s been a while, a long while in fact, since we’ve packed up everything to move. On Sunday we bade farewell to Shakespear and the awesome team of rangers, volunteers and staff whom we have really got to know over our extended stay here.

The kindness shown to us has been humbling. Throughout the unusual experience of lockdown to then have that combined with being quite seriously ill, we have been overwhelmed with the care and compassion shown to us. It’s been a rather surreal experience in some ways, I have to admit that for the first 5 weeks of lockdown, I was so damn unwell that I think I may have slept the weeks away.

I don’t think we could have been in a better place though, surrounded by nature in all its glory, and the best bit of all? Well, that would have to be the on-site Ranger Bruce who was so kind to us. From donning PPE gear to collect our groceries, to making sure we were safe, to mowing the grass surrounding our van, and to making us laugh.

A range of Ranger skills

Oh and all the card games too, once we were at level one.

We left Shakespear late Sunday afternoon, after a final couple of games of 5 Crowns with Bruce and his wife Lianne, to stealth camp outside the repair shop ready for an early morning start Monday morning.

But to backtrack a little, our roof is covered with a butyl rubber coating, it’s an American thing. We have subsequently been told that it shouldn’t be water blasted…..oops, it may have happened here. And repairs were successfully done here

But a few weeks ago, another leak appeared, we think with further degradation of some lifted silicone sealer, a combination of over zealous cleaning and NZ’s intense sun, so it was time to fix it properly once and for all.

We headed off to see Peter Webster at RVRepairs in Albany, we had used peter before so we knew he was very good. I had done lots of research and asked for opinions and kept coming back to one product. On talking with Peter, who had also done lots of research, we had both come up with the same product EternaKote. It’s made by the same people that make the Eternabond tape, a must-have in all good RV repair kits. It’s not a cheap exercise but hey, we are only going to do this once and besides, the product has a 50year warranty so it must be good.

The before picture

The during

The after

We are very pleased with the results, and it wasn’t as half as expensive as we had budgeted for which was a bonus. Another bonus was when he took two of the solar panels off, he discovered that wiring joints were a bit dodgy, so he fixed those before putting the panels back on. A loose connection may well have been the cause of some strange readings on the solar input that we have noticed recently, we shall monitor this over the weekend and see if there is a noticeable difference.

Tracking cards

January 6, 2020

Firstly, thank you to Marilyn (NB Waka Huia) for asking the very good question….what are tracking cards?

To give a bit of background information, Shakespear Park is a pest free sanctuary at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsular.

Map of the Park

Together with New Zealand Defence Force land to the north, most of the Park lies within the Shakespear Open Sanctuary. Although Okoromai Bay and Army Bay are situated within the park realm they are not within the sanctuary.

A 1.7km pest/predator-proof fence (completed March 2011) goes across the peninsular and protects the park’s wildlife which includes resident invertebrates and lizards, along with birds migrating from nearby Tiritiri island sanctuary and many reintroduced species.  

Poison airdrops were conducted in July 2011 to eradicate mammalian pests and the park reopened to the public three months later, pest free.

Access to the park for visitors is by road, through the pest proof fence with automated gates opening for vehicles and cyclists with pedestrian access through a side gate.

Entrance gates

To ensure that the park is kept free of pests and predators such as possums, cats, dogs, ferrets, rats and the like, extensive monitoring takes place. This is done with a variety means by the way of traps, cameras, lures, and tracking cards.

Tracking cards are basically inked cards which are set into small tunnels with some form of enticement or lure (usually peanut butter with rabbit meat used in every 4th or 5th card) so that when an animal or insect walks across the card, it’s footprints are left behind. Many places use these cards to check on biodiversity and range of animals within their area but at Shakespear they are mainly used to monitor pests.

The front of the card

The card opened up showing the ink pad with some peanut butter in the middle

The cards are set out once a month then collected the following week for analysis, and with over 200 cards being set out in the park you can imagine it is a mammoth job which is done with the aid of a myriad of volunteers. Each volunteer is responsible for a particular line of cards with the Rangers doing the Navy land and any other lines that need to be done.

How do they know where the tunnels are placed? If you have been into the park you will have noticed bits of coloured tape tied to trees or fences. Orange and blue tape is used and these denote either a tracking tunnel or a trap.

Tape fluttering in the breeze

Once collected, they are read and species identified by their footprints, then any pests can be targeted in the specific area that they were detected. The following are examples of some of the tracking cards:

Hedgehog footprints, and yes, they are a pest, they raid nests and eat eggs.

Skink footprint and tail print

rat prints

Possum prints

Frog prints

Weta (NZ native insect)

Gecko

Skink, mice, birds and cockroaches

Of course not all prints are of pests and from the last set of prints you will see that you really have to know what you are looking for to sort out what is what.

The Rangers are ably assisted by a great group of dedicated volunteers who not only ensure the Sanctuary is thriving for flora and fauna with an on-site tree nursery as well as monitoring of the many birds that thrive here, but also a safe environment for people to visit as it is also a working farm and open to the public for all sorts of recreational activities from picnicking to windsurfing, swimming, fishing, mountain biking and walking as well as a place for people to camp. We really enjoy being part of the great group of friendly volunteers on the park.

I hope that goes someway to explaining what tracking cards are and the reason why I was driving the ATV from the start to finish of some of the lines last week whilst Bruce put out the cards. The volunteers have a well deserved break over the Christmas/New Year period so I was doing my bit to help out.

Visitors

September 8, 2017

Whilst we have been housesitting, we have had the opportunity to have a number of our friends come to stay with us. And yes, we have approval of the home owners Jacky & Chris to have our friends and family to stay. Over the past few weeks we have had lots of friends come to stay, it’s almost been like running a Lodge!!

We have mentioned previously that we had Pat & Sue visit for a few days. It was a very relaxing time spent playing cards, rummikub and doing jigsaws. After Pat & Sue left, friends from our Tokoroa days came to stay. We have known Wade & Lindsay for a long time, as in since before marriage, children and life took over. It has been great having them to stay and catching up on each other’s news. They were just into their third night with us and we were having such a lovely relaxing time with them when Lindsay got a phone call from France which was to cut short their stay. Her younger brother and best mate Bruce had suddenly collapsed and died at his home near Toulouse. We were/are in shock. It was a quick pack up of all their gear, phone calls made to family, flights were getting sorted, quickly feed them before they hopped into their car for the evening drive to their home in Hamilton. All done within an hour or so, they were soon on their way to collect what they needed and get a bit of sleep before they flew out to France. We wished them safe travels and our sincere condolences to them and their family at this stressful time. Bruce will be sorely missed.

A day or so later friends Skip & Mindy came to stay for the weekend. We met Skip & Mindy at Shakespear as they are very good volunteers on the park, helping out every Tuesday on Volunteer day as well as many other days. This last week or two has seen them helping out with docking of lambs at Shakespear and at least two of the other Regional Parks. They are an amazing couple and we really enjoy their company so it was lovely that they could come up and stay for a couple of days R&R.

Skip, Mindy and Roy sorting out puzzle pieces.

Next we had Ron & Janet for the weekend. Now these folk are some looooooong time friends, as in Roy & Janet started school together as 5 year olds – just a couple of years ago! And Ron & Janet spent a lot of their teenage years at Roy’s parents place where they all spent quite a bit of time together socialising and generally having a good time along with a few others whom Roy is still in contact with. Roy was also best man at Ron & Jan’s wedding, long before I came upon the scene.

concentrating on playing Sequence

This weekend we are due more visitors…..more on them in the next blog.

Afternoons

January 25, 2013

On some occasions, the bar across the Whakatane River entrance is deemed too dangerous to cross and today was one of those days. So a day of no fishing, however, I do have one shot of John coming back into the wharf yesterday.

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Roy and I headed into town to attend to a few chores and on our way in, we saw a Mirada like ours parked in the Bunnings carpark. This is the first one we have seen like ours with the owners around so we dropped by to say hello. After a bit of a chat, we said that we may well meet up over the winter months somewhere in Northland.

Shopping done, we headed out to the entrance to see for ourselves why the coastguard had labeled the bar ‘unworkable’. We now know why, decent sized waves were breaking over the bar and rolling through the entrance, not a safe place to be.

Today was our turn to host drinkies, so as per usual with our motorhoming life, we set up the table and chairs, prepared a few nibbles and sat down to duly host afternoon drinks with John, Jenny and Julie. The weather has been outstanding whilst we have been here, and it was very pleasant sitting under the awning of the van, telling tall tales.

20130125-095932.jpgJulie, John, Roy and Jenny

20130125-095943.jpgJohn and Roy sorting out the important things.

Today was also John’s turn to cook dinner, so whilst he attended to the preparation and cooking of the Bluenose, Roy decided that it had been some time since he had mown a lawn.

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Well, sitting on a lawn mower constitutes mowing a lawn does it not? Only one slight hiccough when Roy got too close to a tree and one of his hearing aids got flicked out. A search party was gathered, grid pattern search about to be instigated when lo and behold, John found it! Thank goodness as it would have been a time consuming, not to mention expensive, exercise to have it replaced (see December 31 2011 for a similar exercise!).

After dinner, a few games of Sequence before it was time to hit the hay.

Today, 25th January, and happy birthday to niece Natalie. Hope you are greatly spoilt, as you deserve to be. And today is also the birth day of our friends Anne & Paul’s new grandchild. We trust all goes well for Michaela and Brad for the birth of their much anticipated baby.