Category Archives: LFW workshops/ events

Our Enhancing Habitat Workshop

Our recent Enhancing Habitat workshop, held at the Territory Wildlife Park, was a great success. The workshop was presented in collaboration with Territory Wildlife Park, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Remote Area Tree Service. Over 45 Land for Wildlife members attended to learn about the different ways their properties can be improved as habitat for arboreal wildlife. Information was provided about the importance of tree hollows and nest boxes as habitat for native species, such as the threatened Black-footed tree rat. Practical demonstrations and arboreal animal encounters were also included, and members were given the opportunity to finish nest boxes to take home and install on their property.

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IMG_3412 (Medium)Dr Leigh-Anne Woolley, a researcher from CDU, gave an informative talk about her research into the decline of arboreal mammals in the NT and the use of nest boxes by these species. Leigh-Anne showed that nest boxes were used by several native mammals and the size of the hollow determined which animals were likely to use them.

Territory Wildlife Park assistant curator, Damien Stanioch, gave a practical presentation with Land for Wildlife coordinator Emma Lupin, of the several ways that nest boxes can be installed onto trees. Damien also talked about and answered questions on his experiences with the use of nest boxes. Afterwards, members had the opportunity to paint their complimentary nest boxes, which were generously made by the Palmerston Men’s Shed, with some products supplied by Bunnings.

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The team from Remote Area Tree Service gave a great demonstration on how hollows can be made manually by using chainsaw techniques on dead trees, branches and logs. This is a wonderful way to ‘speed up’ the natural process of hollow-forming.

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During lunch, staff from Territory Wildlife Park treated members to an up-close encounter of native animals which use hollows, including the sugar glider and threatened northern quoll and black-footed tree rat.

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A huge thanks to Territory NRM for funding this project and to the Territory Wildlife Parkfor hosting and the time of their always knowledgeable and passionate staff. Thanks to Dr Leigh-Anne Woolley for presenting and sharing her knowledge, to Remote Area Tree Services for their wonderful presentation; to Palmerston Men’s Shed for making our boxes and Bunnings for donating some of the materials and of course all the members that are getting involved….

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Enhancing Habitat- a project for landholders for the new year

There are many fauna species that are declining in number in the Top End region, often the reason is not completely understood or can be several reasons. As well as feral animal issues (including the Cane Toad invasion and feral cats) often the lack of hollows in trees and mid story fruiting trees cause animals to decline in number. One of the main reasons that hollows and the mid storey fruiting layer of the woodland landscapes disappear is fire (and of course land clearing). Fire that is too frequent, wide spread and late in the season drastically changes the composition of our woodland landscapes in the longer term as well as the more immediate death of wildlife such as young birds, lizards, in sects and some mammals.  Hollows which many nocturnal species depend on during the day are lost and although larger trees can recover after a hot fire, many of the mid story fruiting trees that many animals rely on as a food source do not survive.

In addition to having a good fire (and weed) management plan to avoid hot fires landholders can install nest boxes and enhance plant with food plants for wildlife. It takes many years for trees hollows to form and for mid story fruiting trees to mature, so in the interim shelter can be created by making and installing nest boxes which are created to house specifics species.

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To join the project landholders should be Land for Wildlife members.

  • The first step is to take part in a simple survey to count the tree hollows, canopy cover and presence of fruiting trees on the property, and recall the fire history, assistance will be given to do this.
  • Secondly there will be a chance to take part in a fire workshop, which is also open to others, to understand the effects of fire on wildlife.
  • Then comes the most exciting part, landholders and their families will be invited to attend a habitat creation day run in collaboration with Territory Wildlife Park to build their nest boxes (late wet/ early dry season). The nest boxes will be designed to a certain size and shape in the hope to house endangered species, but that can also be used by a variety of creatures and each property can receive up to 5 nest boxes. The templates will already be cut out and then just need assembling. Coming along will let participants know how to make nest boxes in the future and the best places to install them.
    Not only will the nest boxes be assembled in the workshop, but the team from Remote Area Tree Services will also give a demonstration of how to create habitat hollows from old dead trees with some chainsaw skills. There will be the chance to learn about and meet some of the creatures that will be housed.
  • Those involved can receive up to 50 habitat enhancing plants targeted towards their targeted fauna species.
  • The landholders will need to install the nest boxes and monitor them for uptake.

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TO REGISTER FOR THE PROGRAM PLEASE EMAIL_ elupin@greenignaustralia.org.au 
(there are limited spaces)

The date of the habitat creation workshop will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

This project is at no financial cost for the landholder as we are very thankful to have received funding from Territory NRM Threatened Species and Community Capacity Grants.

(Photo credit L. Mcmillian, Nest Box and E. Lupin Planchonia flower)

Revelations on Reptiles

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Another fantastic workshop, with a fauna focus was hosted especially for Land for Wildlife members at The Territory Wildlife Park. This workshop focussed on reptiles that are likely to be found in Top End landscapes and particularly properties of the rural Darwin area and how best to manage habitat for their success.

Nearly 30 Land for Wildlife members all boarded the train on another slightly sweaty but beautiful Saturday morning to meet Dion Wedd, curator of the collections at Territory Wildlife Park. In the nocturnal house Dion gave us a background to reptiles in the Top End and how we can look after their habitat, as well as all the participants having an opportunity to see and even handle some of the species themselves, including a Blue- tounged lizard (actually a skink), a Frill-necked lizard, a Tree frog and others.

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There are over 300 species of Lizards, snakes, turtles and frogs that can be found in the landscapes of the Top end region and about 1/3 of those in Darwin and rural region. Lizards include numerous small skinks which are common even in suburban gardens and rummage around in leaf litter, Dragons- Frill-necked Lizards (Chlamydosarus kingii), Tree Dragon (Gowidon temporalis) and Gilbert’s dragon (Lophognathus gilberti) gheckos and goannas, there are also Pygopods, which are legless lizards (and yes they look quite like a snake).

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Frill-necked lizard (photo  by Alice Buckle)

Northern Spadefoot Toad

Northern spade-foot toad (by Alice Buckle)

Mains frog

Mains frog (photo by Alice Buckle)

In wetter areas we find amphibians (frogs, toads and toadlets) in great numbers, turtles and water monitors. Many Land for Wildlife properties include inundated areas of Sandsheet, treed swamp or freshwater creeks.

And snakes, yep there are lots of them, over 40 species in the Top End region, many of the more common ones found in the Darwin region. Unfortunately there is a culture of humans in Australia fearing snakes and wanting to kill them, often without much knowledge of their behaviour or how harmful they are. Generally keeping a distance and letting them be is the best action.

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We joined Greg Mayo, Wildlife keeper in the monsoon rainforest, who told us a lot of amazing information about snakes, their behaviour and habitat and showed us a live Black-headed python (Aspdithes melancephalus). We were also informed of some snake first aid and who to call if a snake was too near.

Australia has 8 of the Top 10 deadliest snakes in the world, but only (on average) one person dies of a snake bite per year and almost always they were bitten when trying to catch it, handle it or had hurt it. Compared to other statics of how people die in Australia, that is pretty low on the list, we should be a lot more worried about cars, other humans and bad food or alcohol!

After our talks we had time to enjoy the reptile displays in the rainforest and got together at the main station for brunch and everyone got to share stories and tips on land management for reptiles on their own properties.

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The biggest threat to reptiles in our region are ‘inappropriate fire regimes’, Cane Toads and possibly at the Top of the list habitat loss (land clearing.) So good land management practice and the efforts of landholders (and our members) is of great importance.

“Inappropriate fire” is fire that is too widespread, too regular or too late in the season, or a combination of these factors. Most reptiles find it hard to get away from fire, they will try and find an underground or wet place or move to an unburnt area. If fire is later in the dry season (and enhanced with extra fuel from grassy weeds) it will often kill most lizard (and some mammal) species in the landscape. You will see birds of prey circling overhead ready to eat the grilled animals. IN addition to this, the leaf litter layer, where many smaller species thrive is taken away with fire.

On most small rural blocks, keeping fire out of the property with fire breaks and diligence is the best strategy.

Cane toads seem to have dented many reptile populations with competition and predation, although these populations have stabilised land managers can keep on top of cane toads by “disposing of them” as quickly and painlessly as possible…

Keep up the great work and a big Thanks to The Territory Wildlife Park staff for all their time and knowledge.

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Wildflowers Walk and Macropod Talk

“Landholder walk and talks” are a fabulous way to let Land for Wildlife members share their knowledge with other landholders by taking them on a walk of their property and pointing out how they manage and enhance wildlife habitat.

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 The assessment of our new members Ingrid and David spanned over a couple of days as their property is over 400 hectares. The first visit we took out to the property was during the drier part of the dry season, so we went back after some rain to get a more complete plant list and see the property at a different time of year. This was turned into an opportunity for all Land for Wildlife members and interested others to visit the property.

Greg Leach, Botanist was on hand to identify annual flowering plants and other vegetation for those on the walk. Landholder, Ingrid gave an insight into the hard work carried out by the landowners with weed control and fire abatement.

 

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We walked to a beautiful view point on the property to overlook this unique landscape, it really is a stunning part of The Top End and the view  at the top was worth a slightly sweaty climb and we rested for a chat under the trees.

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Back at base camp we were treated to a fascinating talk by Landholder, David,  about Macropods (Kangaroos and wallabies ), this was based on his lifelong studies and looked at their behaviours, biology and the species trends all over Australia and then focusing on northern Australia. It was really illustrated that in the north we are so lucky to have large amounts of landscapes fairly undisturbed that we have a large percentage of species in tact, particularly in rocky areas such as near Adelaide River.

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We finished off with a feast of shared food and a Barramundi barbeque!

Below are just some of the flowering annual plants we encountered to add to the species list of the property. All of these species are very important to the food source for a large list of insects, which in turn are a food source for other animals as well as pollinators.

From Left to right, Thecanthes punicea (red), Plectranthus scuttellaroides, (purple) Centranthera cochinchinensis (pink)

 

From Left to right; Hibiscus meraukensis, Buchnera linearis, Cartonema spicatum

 

From Left to right; Mitrasacme connata , Thysanotus chinensis, Spermacoceae calliantha

Thanks so much to Greg Leach and our hosts for their hospitality and amazing conservation efforts.

 

Landholder’s walk in the Robin Falls region

Come and join other Land for Wildlife members for a very interesting Landholder Walk and Talk in The Adelaide River Region near Robin Falls. Saturday 2nd April.

Learn about the ups and downs of managing over 400 Hectares of Land and also the work the Landholders have done on marsupial research.

Enjoy a walk on the property with information and expertise from Dr. Greg Leach on wet season flowering plants. Please get in touch for more details and directions.

2016 Landholders walk and talk

 

Landholder’s walk and talk- Habitat for Birds at Darwin River

It is Bird week– A celebration of Australian birds! We are very privileged in The Top End to have some fantastic bird species and relative to elsewhere in Australia some very intact bird habitat. It is of great importance that areas are managed for wildlife, including the properties in our program.

Land for Wildlife hosted two events. Also see our “Intro to Bird spotting” article with some tips

Our second event was on Sunday-

On Sunday Andrew Spiers kindly hosted a “Landholder’s Walk and Talk” with a focus on birds. As well as being a Land for Wildlife member Andrew also teaches Conservation Land Management at Charles Darwin University and has some extensive knowledge about our landscapes and birds. The walk and talk was at his wonderful Darwin River property that is on 200 hectares, with 18 interested others from Land for Wildlife and friends of.

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We looked at many different keys to birds and leant about observing landscapes over time. We had a great dusk walk across the flood plain to the Darwin River and learnt of the grand effects of fire on birds as well as many other interesting observations across the landscape, including termite activity, the interaction of wildlife, plants as food sources and river flows.

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Andrew walks

Fire can be a devastating factor for birds as it destroys the flowers and or fruit and in many cases the whole plant and its able to flower or fruit completely, or for a year or more depending on intensity. These flowers or fruit are very often the food source for many bird species. Andrew’s land was an example of this as some uncontrolled hot fires, that had come in from a neighbouring property had taken out hundreds, if not thousands of Grevillea pteridifolia ( The fern leaved Grevillea) which are a food source for many honey eaters and small birds. The recent fire had also knocked out many other plants and bird activity was lower than before and centred around the watered garden and the riverine vegetation.

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We also learned about different ways of collecting bird data and doing bird counts and encouraged everyone to participate in the “Aussie Backyard Bird Count” for bird week, to celebrate our fantastic bird life and be part of a citizen science project. http://www.aussiebirdcount.orgLooks

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Andrew was a fascinating guide and his wife, Helen very hospitable. As well as seeing their incredible native landscape we also were invited to look around their house which they have designed and built for our climate with natural cooling features.

It really is valuable to share the knowledge and experience gained when managing land (for wildlife) and a great opportunity to meet others, enjoy a new bit of country and share views. We hope this is the first in many of our “Landholder Wildlife Walks”

Wildlife Encounters Workshop

 

Group shotJust recently the Land for Wildlife program hosted a members’ workshop in partnership with the Territory Wildlife Park  with a focus on wildlife, in particular mammals. Above are just some of the 37 participants we managed to grab at the end to pose for a photo. It was a really good day, where members got to meet each other, learn from some presenters, very experienced in wildlife handling or research and some of the animals themselves. The workshop was designed for land mangers signed up to the program to find out more about the mammals likely to be found on their properties, their habitats and food sources and how best to manage landscape for them.Agile Wallaby

It is well known that mammal (and reptile) numbers have declined in the region and across northern Australia. There is a lot of research carried out to find out exactly why, but there are some basic management practices that enhance habitat and protect fauna.

There are 50 species of mammals in the Darwin Region and over 80 species of reptiles, including lizards, snakes, turtles and frogs. Some of the most common mammals found in the Darwin region are the Agile Wallaby, the Common Brush Tail Possum and the Northern Brown Bandicoot and  the flying fox and other bats. Many mammals have decreased in numbers over the last 20 years including the Northern Quoll and Black footed Tree Rat.

The workshop started with a quick introduction to the Territory Wildlife Park and its function in environmental education and  conservation. The park actually encompasses more land than just the area in exhibits, which is vast anyway and encompasses many landscape types. The Territory Wildlife Park is a Land for Wildlife member and partner and has a focus on Wildlife education, housing an array of native Top End species within their natural setting.

Participants then took a lovely dry season stroll through the mixed woodland area, lined with Turkey Bush and into the woodland walk area which is home to many tame Wallabies that have been taken in after being rescued, often after being found in the pouches of mothers hit by cars. Park keeper Rob Mcgregor met us in the area and gave an informative talk about the mammals in the Top End , their distribution, behaviours and habitats, while some wallabies joined the discussion.

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Rob describes the behaviour of Wallabies in the enclosure (above). He stresses that one of the most important aspects to conserve Top End mammals is to conserve habitat, by managing woodlands well, eradicating weeds, keeping out frequent fire, which allows a mid fruiting layer to be prominent, which is an important food source for many mammals. Having corridors of intact landscape and reducing fragmentation is also important. So if you are managing an area for conservation, encourage neighbouring land managers to also conserve habitat and manage it well (and join Land for Wildlife!)

Most mammals are active at night, so the best way to spot them is by spotlighting. Even if you try some are shy and very small, so the next best way is to be able to recognise their scats. We looked at an array of samples and matched them to common mammals (and pests) found on rural properties. To see a copy of this, click here.

Poo dunnit LFW Member KAte Kilgour and her son examine mammal scats, an easy way of detecting what species are in the landscape. Kebin describes wildlife on his blockLand for Wildlife member Kevin Maxwell describes the behaviour of mammals on his property (with some great hand actions) and other members discuss mammals seen on their block.

Kernick After this great hands on (poo) activity, members exchanged stories of different species on their blocks and then Brooke Rankmore of Greening Australia gave a presentation.

Brooke had carried out a PHD in Land Fragmentation in The Top End. This was a few years ago, but she found that many mammal species were more plentiful in the rural area than in Kakadu at the time. Some of this she attributed to firebreaks and the absence of fire in areas in subdivisions.

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Brooke talks Brooke described the species of mammals that are now in decline and listed at an NT level. You can find that list here.  We are working on more fact sheets in Land for Wildlife that cover many more fauna species that are also more common.

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All the participants then were lucky enough to have their own personal Territory Wildlife park guide through the nocturnal house to look at live exhibits of the mammals and some reptiles including The Black footed Tree Rat, the Water rat, the Northern Brown Badicoot and Common Brushtail Possum (pictured above in the hands of a volunteer).

Over some lunch everyone walked back through the woodland walk and was given a great tour of online resources that can help with land management. This was given by the very knowledgeable Brydie Hill who showed everyone the following-

NT Fauna Observations –  http://ntfaunaobs.nt.gov.au/

A site set up by The fauna division of DLRM that allows some “Citizen Science” and for landholders, or others to register and upload their native fauna sightings to the data base,. Here the records will be held and can be accessed.  To be involved you just need to set up a password and user name. If you would like more information contact us at Land for Wildlife or Brydie at DLRM.

Infonet  –  http://www.infonet.org.au/infonet2/

Infonet is a resource that has been developed with Territory Natural Resource Management and Charles Darwin University. It is a program that allows you to select an area of land on a map and generate reports about it. The reports can include as much or as little information as you wish on Soil, Flora and Fauna species, listed species, weed species, fire history and Wildlife Management. This is really quite easy to use, generates a useful and very professional looking report and is very useful for land managers. If you are interested in a small area of land (under 50 hectares) it is best to draw a larger boundary or give the area a buffer zone as the reports of species are made on held records and sightings which are not taken from every bit of land.

NR Maps –  http://nrmaps.nt.gov.au/

NR Maps is a mapping program holding different layers of Government information. If you like maps you will love this, although it is a little slow and you cannot hold your place yet. There is a side bar to the left which allows you to turn off and on different layers, including some vegetation, mining tenements and leases and Cadastre. Cadastre is who owns (or manages parcels of land). It will not tell you the name of private landholders, but will tell you whether the land is private, Vacant Crown Land, Pastoral or otherwise, how it is divided up and the size of each portion of land and its assigned portion number. This is really handy if you are wanting to know who is managing neighbouring land. If it is local council you can contact them with management issues.

NAFIhttp://www.firenorth.org.au/nafi3/

NAFI stands for Northern Australian Fire Information.

It allows you to track fires, look up fire history and fire scars and generate reports.  You can see when early or late fires are and the late ones (August on) are definitely not prescribed burning and detrimental to our landscapes and wildlife.

I hope these tools are useful and the information on mammals. Our next wildlife workshop series will focus on birds, insects and more reptiles. We would also like to encourage any members with knowledge to share this with others and help present some low key workshops or talks on there blocks. Get in touch!

Thanks again to all the amazing Territory Wildlife Park staff, including Damien, Rob,  Sarah and Jasmine and also presenters Brooke and Brydie.

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