Tag Archives: top end

Enhancing habitat with nest boxes

Exciting news- The nest box design is finalised and the men’s shed in Palmerston is making 150 for the Land for Wildlife program.

What wildlife are the nest boxes for ?

This nest box design is made is to provide a nesting place for the Black-footed Tree-rat, which is a listed threatened species in the Northern Territory and Australia wide. For some reason this species still seems to be more common in the Darwin and rural area and declining in locations further away. It is thought that its overall decline is due to a lack of tree hollows (where it nests) and a decline in mid story fruiting trees (its food), and this is mostly associated with too frequent and hot fire and of course land clearing.

IMG_0836 (Custom)Land for Wildlife coordinator Emma with men’s shed member Max and the prototype nest box

Why this design?

Our nest box design is based on a design by Leigh-Ann Woolley, a researcher at Charles Darwin University. The entrance hole has been reduced to 85mm to discourage possums, but allow tree rats and other small native rodents, there is a small lip over the entrance hole to discourage birds as well as add rain protection. This design has been tried and tested very recently at Coburg Penninsular, with the Black-footed tree rat, and other smaller native mammals being recorded using the design (where 100 of this larger design were installed and 100 of a smaller design)

The final design has a slightly larger roof and will have extra brackets on the rear for attaching.

Who is making them?

The Palmerston men’s shed is a community workshop area for men to gather, develop skills, and undertake different activities. Essentially Men’s Sheds are about increasing the well being of men by fostering social connectedness and increasing self-esteem.

The shed at Palmerston makes a huge variety of items, mainly from wood but have recently specialised in making many different designs of nest boxes for native wildlife. Their last project made nest boxes for a “Darwin Wildlife Sanctuary” project for urban gardens.  The organisation also sell nest boxes at the Rural Fred’s Pass market on a Saturday for various species, including parrots, sugar gliders, possums and reptiles. They range from $30- $45 each.

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The men’s shed members model our prototype nest box. 

Where are they going ?

Early this year we asked members of our Land for Wildlife program if anyone wanted to sign up to this “Enhancing habitat”. We have room for 30 properties to be involved and all 30 spaces were filled by enthusiastic landholders, who live on a variety of properties, which include at least 1 hectare of wildlife habitat, or re-vegetating habitat. The properties involved are located in Leanyer (Darwin), Howard Springs, Girraween, Humpty Doo, Bees Creek, Bachelor, the Adelaide River area and Katherine and range from 5 acres properties to 2000 acres and also includes a s

The landholders have already pledged to manage part of their property for wildlife habitat which includes weed and fire management and where possible to enhance it habitat, this project does just that. Each landholder receives up to 5 nest boxes as well as 50 native food plants for the Black-footed Tree-rat to plant on their property.  Other measures that can encourage native mammals include good pet ownership, trapping for feral cats, leaving fallen logs and leaf litter and leaving standing dead trees (but making them safe if near used areas).

The advice given about choosing where to install nest boxes is –

  • Choose over-story long lived trees, such as Eucalyptus, Ironwoods and Lophostemons that have good canopy cover.
  • Choose trees in an area with other vegetation and protection.
  • Choose trees that do not already have  tree hollows, as the tree does not really need “enhancing” as habitat and this also may cause competition with species uptake and proximity.
  • If trees have a fork it is often easy to install the nest box in this, if not the recommended height is 2-3 m (far enough off the ground for safety and close enough for humans to check the boxes with a ladder)
  • Install nest boxes at least 30 meters apart.

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Land for Wildlife, Trevor member collects his habitat enhancing plants for the Black-footed Tree-rat 

Is any data collected?

Yes– those involved choose the trees where they would like to install the nest boxes, which are at least 30 meters apart. Each nest box location is recorded with a GPS, a brief description of landscape type and 3 photographs taken of its location. A habitat condition survey is made of property / nest box locations.

The habitat condition is recorded by laying 2 transects centered on 2 of the nest box locations which are situated and in representative areas of varying habitat condition on each property. The transects are 50m long and record the nearest tree to the left and the right of the transect every 5m. The tree must be over 1.2m in height and its DBH (Diameter at Breast Height), species and presence of hollows is recorded. The ground cover and fire history is also recorded. This is all done by the project coordinator with involvement from the landholders.

These surveys will provide a sample overview of tree density (and recruitment),  species diversity within tree species, presence of a mid story fruiting layer and presence of other tree hollows.

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Land for Wildlife member Kim, helps do survey work as part of the project on her 20 acre property in Humpty Doo

After installation the nest boxes will be monitored, hopefully by landholders and also the coordinator, who will look for evidence of uptake after 6 months.

The initial survey information allows us to analyse whether the uptake of nest boxes varied with location and property situation and habitat condition and type.

The enhancing habitat workshop for participants

A workshop at the Territory Wildlife Park is scheduled for May 20th for those participating, where landholders will learn about the different species that may take up the nest boxes and their habits (and maybe even meet some of these creatures)..

They will also learn how to finish and install the nest boxes and listen to talks from those who have studied nest box enhancement.

The Remote Area Tree Services guys will also be demonstrating who to create habitat and hollows from fallen logs, old trees and items found on properties, with the assistance of a chainsaw.

There is also a Fire Workshop for members and interested others on 7th May for those attending to learn more about the affects of fire on wildlife habitat.

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Above is an example of how to finish a nest box, this sample was made for us by Land for Wildlife member Niel Carpenter

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Land for Wildlife Volunteer models another nest box, made by Neil who is trialing finishing techniques to camouflage different next boxes.

Who is funding this? 

This project is funded by a Territory NRM Community grant and supported in kind by the Land for Wildlife Top End program (whose core funding is currently from Parks and Wildlife Commission NT).

Bunnings Palmerston has provided a donation of some materials towards nest box production.

We are looking for donations of paint to finish and camouflage the boxes as well as old hose for fixings.

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Land for Wildlife in Katherine

We are very excited to announce that this year our “Land for Wildlife Top End” program welcomed an 888 Hectare property just outside of Katherine into the program. The property is on Gorge Road and is managed by Mick Jerram for the owners who recently acquired the property. Mick is a very knowledgeable tour guide in the area who operates “Gecko Canoeing and Tours”.

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The beautiful property is now our largest Land for Wildlife property in private ownership and includes the Maude Creek. The landholders have appointed Mick to be their land manager and would like to manage the land as a wildlife refuge and possibly run an eco-tourism enterprise that would support the upkeep.

Land for Wildlife coordinator and botanist (and former coordinator) Greg Leach headed down to Katherine to assess the property and look at its wildlife habitat assets. This was done over 2 days and being such a large property only some of it was visited on the accessible tracks, which is why we ended up down there in the steamy build up- trying to catch as much of the property before it was too boggy!

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The property includes rocky sloping hills with open Eucalypt woodland and a variety of stunning Bloodwoods, hosting many birds and lizards and further diversity of creatures within the rock crevices and floodplain areas. Maude Creek keeps water in it all year with lush riverine plants along its banks, and there are additional wet season creeks and overflows throughout the property.

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There is a likelihood that the Gouldian Finch could populate the area, with its grassy lower areas and rocky hills, and Mick is looking for assistance to try and document what fauna species are definitely found within the properties. Major priorities include the eradication of wild Buffallo and cows.

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The fabulous tract of land joins surrounding properties which are intact and vast in size, including the Nitmiluk National Park, which is managed and protected under conservation legislation; it is also actively managed. All of the above set the property as a very significant area for wildlife conservation and an important tract of land which connects and creates large scale conservation corridors.

There are a couple of LFW registered properties in the Katherine area, from the days when Greening Australia had an office in the town. With this most recent membership LFW has a significant representation, so we have set about to see how we can get more Land for Wildlife involvement in the area and held an information session for interested others.

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Mick would love to have management based training on the newly joined property and many landholders and the Landcare group were interested in getting involved. There was a call out for information on native plant propagation, fauna likely to be found and fire management information. At this stage we hope to host workshops next dry season and team up with the Landcare group to carry out new assessments, the idea is to set up a Katherine interest group made of community members..… so watch this space.

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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

Land For Wildlife online

Land for wildlife collageWe are pleased to share this  Land For Wildlife blog site with you, where newsletters, relevant information, land management tips and techniques, events and members stories can be posted.

All past newsletters can be found under the newsletter tab- just double click on the picture of the front page of the newsletter you wish to open.

LFW April 2014 cover

We are also keen to show the amazing wildlife that our native landscapes support- so if you have any photos that you would like used please send them to us (and we can credit you). By email to info@nt.greeningaustralia.org.au

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