Becoming a halo household by Owen Smith
At the moment we’re spending a lot of energy on becoming a ‘Halo Household‘. This is an idea from the Morgan Foundation who are encouraging Wellingtonians to invite native wildlife into their gardens and to get rid of pest animals and plants. Here is a quote from their website:
“Our aim is to make Wellington New Zealand’s natural capital by making all back yards into safe havens for native wildlife. We already have a number of wildlife hotspots (like Zealandia, Otari-Wilton Bush and Oruaiti Reserve) and now it is time for us to restore the full dawn chorus (which most New Zealanders have never heard) and see wings over all of Wellington.”
We had already planted some native trees and created a log pile for weta and skinks/geckos in a corner of our garden. We’re renting at the moment but I’m hoping the trees will stay there and eventually help feed the native birds.
I have also been putting sugar water out for tui knowing that it can take months for them to find and use it. Finally after at least six months of putting out the sugar water we have had a tui visit a few times this week for a drink – and the waxeyes love it too. Patience is the key! The recipe for sugar water is easy – 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to a cup of warm water. You can also add red food colouring but we are using the bottom of a hummingbird feeder which is red anyway (as soon as I took the feeder apart and stopped hanging it in the tree the tui decided to use it).
We have also had a large flock of yellowhammers eating the food dropped on the floor from the seed feeder along with the sparrows and various finches.
The biggest surprise to date happened when I was watching a group of waxeyes drinking the sugar water and then seeing a kingfisher on the ground – with one of them in its beak! Here he is with a good old garden worm a week later.
I’ve been trying to catch the mice that make a mess in the shed for ages and decided that all I was doing was feeding them peanut butter rather than trapping them. I went along to a course organised by DOC and Enhancing the Halo where I learnt all about effective pest control techniques and especially how to use the DOC 200 trap. As well as learning a heap of information about rats stoats mice and hedgehogs, I also gained a brilliant new phrase which I will endeavour to use at any given opportunity – irreversible unconsciousness (death).
We have since bought a DOC 200 trap in the hope that if there are any rodents or mustelids roaming around we’ll take them out of the equation and give the native wildlife a fighting chance. Once again Enhancing the Halo are helping by making heavily discounted traps available here. So far we haven’t caught anything which I have decided is a good thing!
After attending a ‘happy hour’ with lots of different people from the organisation and households like ours, and the pest management course – I feel good in the knowledge that we can do something positive for the native wildlife on our own backyard and there are plenty of others in Wellington doing the same.