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Let them eat cake!
17 April 2015

One of the joys of playing outdoors is that you never know what you will encounter next.

In the Bay of Plenty that could be anything from beating hot sun to chill winds and hail.

Not that I’m beating up on the place – we have a reliably benign climate that means exploring the VOT gems can be on the agenda pretty much any day of the year.

With the exception of Cyclone Pam, we’ve had a mostly terrific year and the Easter weekend was a particular delight both for its weather and a couple of great events.

First up, the Ohope Express half marathon, 10km and 5km managed a much delayed start after it had to be cancelled in 2014 when Ohope got flooded overnight.

This year it was all plain sailing and 834 people turned up and had a run or a stroll along the flat course tracing the water’s edge in the Whakatane and Ohiwa gem.

I knocked off the half-marathon and was very pleased (thanks for asking) to come in just a minute off – yes, under – my target time.

The day was aided by great weather and the 5km gold-coin entry donations for Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association of New Zealand (DESA NZ) meant plenty of others shared in feeling virtuous about their efforts.

Easter Sunday continued the virtuous theme with a special presentation to a bunch of people who do a fabulous job looking after, and providing for recreational activity at, Nukuhou Saltmarsh on the Ohiwa Harbour edge.

Since 2005 the Nukuhou Saltmarsh Care Group has been killing pests and counting birds to ensure one benefits to the other.

As of early this year, their tally of trapped pests hit 1000 with poisoned pests likely to be in the many thousands more.

They check traps and count birds on the first Sunday of each month and it was great to surprise them with a special cake from Charity Cakes in the shape of a trap box, beside some oioi reeds with a fernbird amongst them.

The group’s rewards are usually just the joy they get from seeing and hearing such things as fernbirds, spotless crakes and bitterns on their doorstep, but they go the extra mile to share what they have with boardwalks and ceramic tiles providing access and information for visitors.

The cake was a tribute to a bunch of people who give far more than they expect back – stop in and visit their site if you are passing.

You could maybe even plan to help out with a Sunday bird monitoring - there’s sure to be a cuppa and pleasant chat afterwards, and just possibly a piece of cake.

For the record, the April tally to date was 214 stoats, 132 weasels, 376 rats, 213 mice, 58 hedgehogs and 12 possums, and the bird count was 76 fernbirds, with a banded rail and possibly a spotless crake also heard.

This post was written by

Steve Brightwell - who has written 17 posts

Steve Brightwell is a partnership ranger with the Department of Conservation.

He has been a part of the Virtually On Track team from the project's inception.

Steve lives in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, has a communications background, and is a weekend warrior of modest multisport ability.

The views he expresses for this blog are his own and do not necessarily reflect or imply official policy of the Department of Conservation.

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