Tag Archives: WILDLIFE

Enhancing Habitat Update

140 of our nest boxes are up in trees on Land for Wildlife properties from Darwin to Katherine! They are hoping to attract our Black-footed Tree-rats and food plants for them are also being planted on each nest box property.

After our fantastic workshops, members have been busy painting and installing the boxes. Boxes have also been installed at 3 schools- Girraween Primary, Howard Springs Primary School and Milkwood Steiner School.

Some members got friends and family together to install the boxes and soem even got a little help from Emma.

Emma (LFW coordinator) even got on the radio to talk about the project…

20170613_091359

These are just some of our nest boxes looking fabulous in their gorgeous host trees

IMG_0386

And then, the next exciting part has been checking out the boxes with our new especially designed nest box camera, with the help of the landholders and our Green Army team who are learning about surveying.

 

So far we have not caught any mammals live on camera but we have got Eucalyptus leaf nest material (very likely to be from the Black-footed Tree-rat), droppings that look like those of the Black-footed Tree-rat and some small identified fluff balls (to be sent for analysis).

We have also found some other gatecrashers using the nest boxes, including many geckos, grasshoppers, spiders and European honey bees.

Check out this amazing (non native) bee colony that took up a nest box at Alison and Mike’s property in Humpty Doo, and then moved on.

Bees in nestbox July 2017Nestbox 5 at 135 Jefferis Road small

So no live pictures of our Tree-rat friends but evidence of some and sightings from landholders of BFTRs outside the nest boxes! We are hoping to hear about motion sensing cameras we can lend to our landholders soon and will be checking on the boxes in 3 months time! All the data is being collated as well as a map of the location of every nest box!

Now we will wait and see if anything moves in over the next few months, while our Green Army are busy planting 15, 000 trees for the Black-footed Tree-rat ! (yes 15, 000) on Land for Wildlife Properties.

Advertisements

WildWatch- report your wildlife!

If you are living or visiting your “Land for Wildlife” property or out and about and see any unusual wildlife, we would love you to report it to WildWatch- an especially adapted citizen science application to record wildlife sightings!

Anything can be uploaded, but more useful are sightings of species that are listed threatened species, or species becoming less common.

This information helps understand wildlife and its distribution and is really important when it comes to planning and clearing applications. Scientists are of course out and about collecting data, but they cannot be everywhere.

SUBMIT HERE- (click the link or picture) 

www.wildwatch.nt.gov.au

Wildwatch page

If you are part of Land for Wildlife’s “Enhancing habitat” nest box program, then we (LFW) will submit anything recording on a nest box survey.

If you would like us to enter a sighting for you that we have a WildWatch account and can do it on your behalf- get in touch

Submit your bird, mammal, reptile and frog records here. All records will be entered into the N.T. Fauna Atlas. Fauna Atlas records can be accessed via NR Maps and the Atlas of Living Australia. Personal datasets of fauna observation can also be submitted to the Fauna Atlas by emailing you data to Biodiversity@nt.gov.au.

 

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.

IMG_0834 (Custom)

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.

IMG_0884 (Medium)

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.

IMG_1924 (Medium)

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.

IMG_1539 (Medium)

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

IMG_1654 (Medium)

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.

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.. .

imageforquoll

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’.

pg9image

(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.


pg6image

 

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

More Land for Wildlife near Adelaide River

A few months ago we welcomed Ingrid and David to the program who are added to the collection of Land for Wildlife properties in the Adelaide River and Robin Falls region. They have both spent their life-time as wildlife ecologists with a focus on macropods and  Ingrid managed a region of National Parks in NSW. First moving to the area in 2009 they are now committed to managing the incredible landscape they reside on permanently. Ingrid could not imagine living without a vast protected area of natural bush around her, as she has got so accustomed to this through her work. They have hosted wildlife studies on their property and hope to host LFW workshops in the future and build a network of like-minded people in the area.

Witte and Croft sign
Below are a few words that David has written about their property:

Our 427-ha lifestyle block is on scenic Dorat Road in the Robin Falls region near the township of Adelaide River in the NT. It comprises natural tropical woodland savannah that frames our multi-building habitation at the confluence of two Wet-season creeks. These are fed from the backdrop, a sandstone escarpment. We are remote and off-grid. Our challenges are wildfire, weeds and the variability of the intensity and duration of the Wet and Dry seasons.

Witte and croft view

We cycle annually from drought to flooding rain. The severity of Dry-season drought on land management is compounded by the frequent threat of wild fire from arson, whether malevolent or misguided, or failure to contain management burns on some neighbouring properties. We have therefore strengthened our bounding fire breaks by grading and annual control of overgrowing vegetation with some strategic early Dry-season burning along the inner edges. We sacrifice a broad strip of ground-cover along our exposure to Dorat Road to reduce its attraction to arsonists. As this strategy has matured we have been able to exclude fire from most of our block and aim for a fire frequency of no more than once in five or more years. The floods of the Wet-season bring a burden of weeds, including WANS like Gamba and Mission grasses. We target Gamba and Perrenial Mission grasses across the block and remove these and other weeds from a large buffer around habitations. Our success in the latter endeavour has restored riparian vegetation and improved biodiversity in flora (mid-storey vegetation) and fauna (especially birds).

Our long-term goal is to provide wildlife-friendly habitat across our block by sustaining its natural diversity bred by a variable terrain, enhancing the diversity of ground cover and mid-storey vegetation by suppression of wildfire and weeds, and protecting wildlife from harm from hunting or adverse land uses.

Corymbia ptychocarpa (2)sm

Corymbia foelscheana sm

Breynia cernua sm

Beautiful Birds of Bird Week

It’s bird week, Land for Wildlife ran some great bird focused events at the weekend and we thought we would share with you some Top End bird profiles during the week and some bird spotting tips.

Firstly here is a bird that we featured in our newsletter- the interesting and quirky Bowerbird. (photographs by Land for Wildlife member Jacinda Brown)

JB_Bowerbird_Great_Chamydera nuchalis_20131003_28

The Bower bird is a curious bird,  grey with a brownish grey back, up to 40cm tall. This bird is usually solitary and has a lilac attractive nape crest, which is larger on males. The most distinctive feature of this bird is probably their bower, an open over arched mate magnet of twigs on the ground. These are usually found under low hanging shrubs such as Turkey Bush (Calytrix exstipulata) This is built by the males to attract females and is surrounded by found blue, green or sliver shiny luring objects like white shells, plastic bottle tops, green fruit and broken glass. It is here where the male will display by dancing and opening his tail and hopefully along with the shaking of his funky lilac head piece and shiny entrance ornaments tempt the female to mate with him.

JB_Bowerbird_Great_Chamydera nuchalis_20131002_09The female leaves the nest (more like a love den) after mating and then goes off to build her own nest and raise her young alone. The call of these birds has been described as someone vomiting violently or shredding paper and the birds can mimic sounds and human laughter.

JB_Bowerbird_Great_Chamydera nuchalis_20131003_46
Bower birds are found across northern Australia in open woodland and the edges of mangroves or monsoon forest. Another interesting fact is they are noted to to eat Strychnos fruit (Stychnos lucida) which contains strychnine and are poisonous to other creatures.

Information is taken from the very useful book “A natural History and Field Guide to Australia’s To End” by Penny van Oosterzee, Ian Morris, Diane Lucas and Noel Preece and “Birds of Palmerston” by Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow

Jacinda Brown, Bachelor wildlife photographer shares her story.

JB_Parrot_Red-winged_Aprosmictus erythropterus_20141129_04Jacinda Brown, wildlife photographer and Land for Wildlife member shares her story-

Jacinda is a well-known photographer, who captures beautiful images of our native plants and wildlife. She has been a Land for Wildlife member since 2011 and lives on a bush block, 20 kms west of Bachelor with her family. The block is just over 50 acres (22 hectares) and the Finniss River runs through it. Jacinda describes the block as a biodiversity haven amongst surrounded by Gamba grass.

JB_Acacia dimidiata_FV_20060424_10

The property has been cared for, for the last 15 years by Jacinda’s partner who has avidly managed the Gamba grass and other weeds like Hyptis and Mission Grass. Now the property is pretty weed free, but it is a continuous process to maintain it. They also use mosaic burning for fire management.

Jacinda moved to Darwin from the Yarra Valley in 2002. She lived in Darwin for a couple of years before moving out bush where she works from home, making children’s books in her beautiful bush studio to educate and showcase, the beauty of nature.

The land that Jacinda and her family care for acts as habitat for a huge array of wildlife species, including reptiles, birds, mammals and insects.

JB_Finniss River_FV_20050228_52

“It is always a joy when the huge olive pythons visit especially since the cane toad invasion.” Jacinda says one interesting thing in this area is that bandicoots haven’t been seen for 7 years. There are various theories why – one being that bandicoots are really sensitive to fire and Batchelor has many hot fires because of all the Gamba Grass. That and the toads, are a huge knock back for all wildlife.

She adds “I am amazed at the amount of money spent on the recent Banana eradication, when none can be found to get rid of toads and very little for Gamba grass.”

JB_lightning_20141210_02

Jacinda loves the constant learning experience, encountering new wildlife and discovering which call belongs to which creature, “Our most recent residential discovery is the oh so cute, Owlet-nightjar.” She says “Artists are always trying to represent nature, but nature is the greatest artist. Having a bio-diverse property is a true inspiration and there are daily rewards for the work required in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

JB_Owlet-nightjar_Australian_Aegotheles cristatus_20141129_29

 

Jacinda has just launched a new website, where you can view a wonderful movie about her block http://www.jacindabrown.com/movies.html , choose the film “Nowearji, a celebration of biodiversity” and also check out the wonderful photo galleries.

Olive Python_Liasis olivacace_FV_©JacindaBrown-36