Land for Wildlife was conducting trials this month with the GPS-trackers and video surveillance camera as part of the Domestic Cat Monitoring and Awareness in Alice Springs project. The first cat to trial the camera was TeeGee, an adventurous tabby moggy that was adopted by his owners’ pet duck (Scarfy and Friend), and has since become a part of the family. You can see TeeGee’s adventures on our YouTube channel (see below).
Land for Wildlife is still looking for volunteer cat owners for the Domestic Cat Monitoring and Awareness program in Alice Springs. We will be looking at running another round of monitoring in February so please let us know if you are interested in taking part in the program to see where cats wander and what they see.
This project is supported by Territory Natural Resource Management, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
Birdlife Central Australia ran a summer Shorebirds count at the Alice Springs PowerWater stabilisation ponds on the weekend. The surveys are a part of the Shorebirds 2020 program, which aims to raise awareness about how incredible shorebirds are by engaging the community to participate in gathering the information required to conserve shorebirds, by conducting national shorebird population monitoring at over 150 key sites around Australia. You can follow Birdlife Central Australia on Facebook to see what other birds they find around Alice Springs.
Barb Gilfedder, who was organising the event, states that the Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) was the most significant bird seen on the day, with the Grey Teal (Anas gracilis) coming out on top as most common (500!) and runner up of White-headed Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus; marked on the graph under the previous name of Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus).
My personal favourite was a toss-up between the Red-necked Avocets (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae) that were swooping overhead, and the Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti), which is of course not a shorebird but is utterly delightful. Plus, there were a couple of visiting reptiles, such as the Long-nosed Dragon (Gowidon longirostris)… not a bird at all!
As coordinator of Land for Wildlife, which is hosted by Low Ecological Services P/L, I am fortunate to enjoy visits to the PowerWater stabilisation ponds on a somewhat regular basis to conduct water testing. It’s difficult to stay focused on the task at hand when there is such an amazing array of birds around. A few chicks have been making their way into the world of late (see last month’s Bird Breeding Bonanza post and the October/November newsletter).
Birdlife Central Australia has also helped me to identify some of the more common species that I have noticed around the ponds, including the Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) and the Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos). A large Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) is sometimes seen at the ponds (see the video), along with many Whistling Kites (Haliastur sphenurus). If you want to visit the ponds for birdwatching, see the PowerWater factsheet for more information.
Batchelor Institute Alice Springs camera trapping session in November 2016 shows a cat going into a trap for a feed and a couple of inquisitive crows.
Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) seen feeding on some kill at the Alice Springs wastewater treatment ponds.
Claire Treilibs has submitted her PhD thesis and would like to present the results to the Alice springs community on Friday week, Dec 16th at 3.30 at CDU lecture theatre in a talk titled Conservation Ecology of Slater’s Skink. This talk will be of interest to many in the community who may have been part of the broader Slater’s Skink surveys over the last few years.
Nibblies will be provided before and after Claire’s talk and the doors open at 3 pm for the 3.30 talk Refreshments will also be provided at the end of the talk for those who would like to stay and help Claire celebrate her thesis submission.
A sombre aspect of the proceedings will be knowledge of the sudden death of Claire’s well respected supervisor Prof Mike Bull from Flinders University in late November. Mike had supervised several students here over the years and had given a talk here on his beloved pygmy bluetongue lizards.
Many avian species are breeding in town at the moment, with young chicks and fledglings making their way out into the world. Several Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) chicks and Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) cygnets have been seen at the Alice Springs sewerage treatment ponds over the last couple of months.
In my own yard, I have had a pair of young Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) that recently fledged their sturdy mud nest and the family of four have been busy catching tasty insects in the lawn ever since. There is also a diligent Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) sitting on a nest with its chicks and other young nearby – who look rather gangly and awkward but delightful none the less! The White-plumed Honeyeaters (Lichenostomus penicillatus) reported in the last newsletter are still hanging around and are now just as vocal as their parents, though no doubt they will eventually go off to find their own territory.
What have you got breeding in your area? Send your photos in to share with the members!