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Fantail Trust

The Fantail Trust

The Fantail Trust —

The Fantail Trust is a charitable organisation to establish a native bird and plant sanctuary along the Rakaia Gorge walkway.

The Fantail Trust is supported by Ecan, Manawa Energy and the Selwyn District Council who have all contributed to the fund. But the main sponsor is Quickenberry Guesthouse, owners Robbie and Christine Koller, located at Terrace Downs . The trust was established in February 2020 and the project got seriously under way by mid-August 2020.

The Rakaia Gorge has a high ecological value and is considered to be regionally significant ‘as one of the few remnants of lower montane forest of Canterbury’. (Shanks, 1990). There are about 120ha in which 121 native species of plants have been recorded and 16 of them are threatened or at risk.

Within this forest there should be a large population of native birds. What we see are fantails, bellbirds, silver eye and occasionally kereru. Needless to say that the area is infested with predators like stoats, rats and possums. The predators eat the eggs and fledglings, new shoots and seedlings. While the weeds, sycamore trees, elderberries, wild cherries and wilding pines, grow prolifically. 

We want to eradicate the predators as humanely as possible and use no poison. The A12 possum trap by Good Nature is our mainstay of trap. There are now over 75 along the walkway. Then we use the DOC150 for stoats and rats. There are around 30 of these but we will need a lot more to cover the length of the walkway. So far these traps have eliminated over 300 possums, many rats and stoats.

This is Robbie’s latest Blog

It is getting exciting!!

We have been trapping now for just two years! Our second breeding season is coming up.

Now there are almost 300 traps installed and over the last 6 months we concentrated on getting the rats! There are now more than 400 of the critters all dead.  

Of course the hunt for the possums is still ongoing but there is a marked decrease in the numbers we are getting. The tally is now 633 possums. On top of this we have taken out 30 stoats! That has got to make a difference. The birdies will thrive and multiply and the forest will slowly recover as well. 

I must say that on my almost daily walks I notice more birdsong. Especially bellbirds and grey warblers. They are all feeding on the kowhai which this year came out as early as June! They will flower until September providing food for the bellbirds. We have also noticed many fuchsia trees.

But the most lovely discovery was two weeks ago when deep in the bush I was greeted by a pair of tomtits! Never seen them before. It is a highlight so far of my trapper career! Can you imagine two tomtits! Let there be many more. 

Have a fantailistic day!  

Robbie and Christine  www.thefantailtrust.org