Tag Archives: Top end wildlife

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)

Top End Wildlife- Children’s Books- The Quoll

We have some very talented artists and story tellers in the Top End, and what better way to get the next generation to value our wildlife and landscapes and the connectivity between species,  than to intrigue and educate them through books, here is just the first of  a few great titles that we will feature.. .

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Sandra Kendall, Darwin resident and artist has written several books with a focus on loving our landscapes and the wildlife within-
My main aim is providing accessible images and stories for children about native wildlife to entertain and educate. The last couple of books have focused on urban wildlife to provide stories that Top End kids can claim particular affinity with with the hope that in turn this will stimulate interest in other local species. 

My first book “Quoll” (published by Windy Hollow Books 2008) was inspired by the Island Ark Project, a collaboration between Biodiversity North, The Territory Wildlife Park and The Gumurr Marthakal Rangers aiming to preserve a healthy population of Northern Quoll on offshore islands as the arrival of Cane Toads in Top End was pushing the species to the brink of extinction. The story of one quolls plight is told from the animals point of view as she tries to save her family from the Cane Toad ‘invasion’.

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(Scientific information about the Northern Quoll for the book was kindly provided by Dr John Woinarski in the info pages following the narrative)

The Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) is a mammal native to northern Australia which weighs 300g- 1000g and has prominent white spots on its fur. It is carnivorous and eats a range of invertebrates including reptiles. It’s habitat is hollow logs, tree hollows and rock crevices.  

The Northern Quoll is listed as critically endangered in the Northern Territory and is listed as endangered within Australia as a whole. It has been recorded as rapidly declining in numbers over the last few decades. This decline is largely attributed to the introduction and spread of cane toads but also is affected by frequent and late season burning, which causes habitat loss.

In the Northern Territory the quoll is  restricted to the Top End. To assist its recovery private landholders can implement a Cane Toad eradication  program, prevent the loss of habitat, particularly tree hollows by protecting landscapes from hot fires and even create and place tree hollows with the property.


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For more information a fact sheet can be found here https://nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/205475/northern-quoll.pdf

Schools for Wildlife

Local Rural Artist and Land for Wildlife member has been working with Howard Springs Primary School to create a giant wildlife mural. The beautiful mural is in the bold and colourful style typical of Marnie’s work and depicts a woodland and billabong habitat with many well known and loved native animals of the rural area making an appearance in their own funky style throughout the painting.  These include dingoes, wallabies, brolgas, emus, Comb-crested Jacanas, and Magpie geese and the lagoon is based on Girraween lagoon.

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The mural is 7m x 2mto and was made to encourage the appreciation and preservation of our local environment and animals that live around us. 5 students were chosen to assist with the project and went to the Wildlife Park to research our wonderful wildlife and a series of workshops were undertaken for them to draw and paint their selected critters for the scene.

The mural took 5 months to create and was opened on the 30th July by Gerry Woods. There were great local craft stalls, and Land for Wildlife had an information stall.

It is fantastic to see a school embrace such fantastic projects to pass on the message to love and appreciate the wildlife around us. The principle, Julie is very supportive and further art and wildlife projects are being designed.

img_9597The school has also joined up to Land for Wildlife as an educational member in the Growing Towards Category. Next year the students will be taking part in the Trees for Wildlife program and planting trees to restore and create Black-footed Tree-Rat habitat and learn all about these fantastic creatures and how to enhance habitat for mammals and other wildlife.IMG_9593.JPG

We are looking for other rural schools to join in with Land for Wildlife activities, particularly tree planting and creating nest boxes- so if you are involved in a school and would like to get everyone involved get in touch and we can provide more details of how this can work.

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An introduction to Birdwatching

 

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. There are over 250 species of birds in the region. 19 bird species are endemic to the Australian monsoon tropics and 3 species that are only found in the Top End and Kimberly region. (Rainbow Pitta, Silver-backed butcher bird and Yellow rumped-mannikin) Many other species are distributed only in the tropics, and are found in parts of Indonesia, New Guinea and beyond.

64 species in the Darwin region are migratory, the majority of which migrate from the region for the dry season.

One quarter of our birds are water or wetland birds. Another quarter of the birds are either shoreline or sea birds, leaving half as terrestrial (land) birds.

Different birds occupy different habitats, but many move between habitats, depending on food sources and shelter.  Honey Eaters move between Woodland landscapes and riparian or monsoon forest habitats, depending on where nectar is.

Birds such as birds of prey, some pigeon species, parrots, cockatoos, and some honey eaters inhabit the open forests and woodlands. Other birds choose the monsoon forest as their primary habitat, such as some flycatchers, honeyeaters, fig birds, the Rainbow Bee eater and the great Bowerbird.

Below is a painting of Comb-crested Jacanas by Jasmine Jan, our host and artist often specialising in native birds.

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Where and when to go bird spotting-

The best time to go bird spotting is first thing in the morning and in the late afternoon, this is when most birds are most active.

The best places to go bird spotting is where there is a food or water source for birds. Fruiting trees, flowering trees, seeding grasses and places with insects are where birds hang out. If you want to see waterbirds, then finding a wetland is the obvious place to go.

Often it is hard to see the colourings of birds, so to ID birds their shape, silhouette and what is called their “Giss”, which is how birds move. Of course another great way to identify birds is by their calls. These can be found on phone on computer apps too!

This weekend Land for Wildlife co-hosted 2 Bird watching or walking sessions for members of Land for Wildlife and friends of.

The role of National Parks, conservation reserves and Private land managed as Land for Wildlife is essential for bird habitat. Native birds do also of course love planted gardens, native and otherwise which have diversity and water.

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On Saturday The Territory Wildlife Park kindly hosted An Introduction to Bird Spotting with Denise Goodfellow who has written various books including “Birds of Australia’s the Top End”. This event was designed for Land for Wildlife members and friends of with fantastic bird painter (and Land for Wildlife member and TWP staff member) Jasmine Jan. This was booked out with 20 attendees keen to know more about birds.

This compact bird spotting session took participants on the TWP train to the natural Goose Lagoon and the bird hide, through the woodland and marginal paperbark swamp, with some stops on the way looking at plants that are sources of bird food and smaller birds.

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Denise gave a short introduction to the types of birds and some bird spotting tips, including the great advise that sitting a long while in one place and watching the birds and getting to know them and how they all behave is really important and rewarding. This can be done on a back veranda or in a patch of native vegetation.

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We stayed at the bird hide some time and watched the water birds on the lagoon while those attending quietly  asked questions to our bird experts and not so quietly met other members and talked about birds on their blocks. On the lagoon we spotted Radjah (Burdekin) ducks, Black necked stalks (Jabiru), Little egrets, Comb-crested Jacana and many more.

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Land for Wildlife member and local author, Di Lucas shared some knowledge on bird behaviours and habitat.

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We learnt from Jasmine that many birds are also nocturnal and can be spotted by their calls. Goose lagoon is a natural lagoon and there are many different landscape types within the park as well as an aviary of rainforest birds.

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. Go to http://www.aussiebirdcount.org to get involved! Bird watching is a great way to enjoy the bush (as modelled by Land for Wildlife member Cathy Hansen, below)

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Thanks once again to Denise, Jasmine and The Territory Wildlife Park for hosting us. Go to the next article to hear about our Sunday “Landholder’s Wildlife Walk”