Forest & Bird Manor Park Restoration Project
The Manor Park restoration project was initiated by Old Blue recipient Russell Bell. Lower Hutt Branch is working to establish an eco corridor across the Hutt Valley at Silverstream (See Eco corridors) We have permission to clear weeds and plant on the northern end of the Manor Park Golf Course, KiwiRail land, and some riverside land administered by Greater Wellington.
A new thrust at the Park has been the introduction of intensive pest control. Because of the large amount of grass present, there is a healthy mouse population that exploit the annual production of grass seed in the Autumn. Also we know that there are about 10 rats per hectare in a place like Manor Park, giving about thirty rats present at any time. Bait stations have been placed on a grid roughly 20 metres by 20 metres using Brodifacoum, and this seems to be working well. Progress can be measured using tracking tunnels. The Lower Hutt Branch purchased bait and traps from Greater Wellington Regional Council and received good support from Hutt City Council. With appropriate pest control of rats and mustelids, there is a desire to re-introduce skinks back to the area.
One of a number of highlights at Manor Park was its dubbing as an unofficial skink sanctuary! In short, a proposed subdivision at Kelson saw us put in a formal submission to the developer, that included the request for a herpetological survey be done at the site before the bulldozers moved in. The survey, to be done by the professional lizard experts EcoGecko, used a hundred pitfall traps over two weeks. This produced 63 skinks (a third gravid) of two species, being the Common Skink (Oligosoma polychroma) and the Copper Skink (Cyclodina aenea). The Department of Conservation considered the pest control work being done at the park was enough to allow the skinks to start a new life in the safety of Manor Park, where, along with rat and mouse control, twelve hedgehogs are now resting in their hedgehog heaven!