Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Birds & water

October 29, 2017

A quiet Sunday afternoon on duty at the bird hide at Edithvale-Seaford wetlands.

The entrance :

Upstairs viewing area :

All that lovely water :

And birds :

This little fella (a baby Chestnut Teal) strayed from Mum & Dad. A Purple Swamphen bore down on him. I was told it would attack and kill him. We held our breath. Mum intervened and all was well :

(My little camera does close-ups but not all that close)

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Sugar Glider release

October 22, 2017

Back in March I wrote this post about finding a little native Sugar Glider caught in the barbed wire on the top of one of the fences. I took him to our local wildlife carer and as the weeks went by and I heard nothing, I assumed the little glider hadn’t made it. I didn’t ring; I didn’t really want to know the worst.

Some weeks ago the carer contacted me to say the glider (it had tuned out to be a little female) was doing well and cavorting around the curtains in her living room. She said she’d be releasing her back into my property sometime soon.

I was rapt. Then I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks more, but she finally rang during the week and the release was fixed up for yesterday afternoon. Not only that, but she asked if she could release another two gliders as well. Who could say no?

So, promptly at 5.30, the carer turned up with a young lass who was going to be doing the tree climbing. The gliders were housed in nest boxes which were going to be attached to trees. Another girl turned up and then another carer who had been looking after the three gliders temporarily. My local carer went home; it was ‘feeding time’, she said (she can be looking after 30 or more small marsupials at once!).

For the next 2 hours, I hovered in the background, taking photos and watching these amazing people—all volunteers—at work.

Some time was spent looking for a suitable tree (not so much for the gliders, but suitable for attaching the box and safe to climb). The first box is in that white plastic bag :

Getting the ladder in place :

Getting into harness (the climber ropes herself to the tree trunk) :

Up the ladder :

Not my idea of fun. She’s right at the top of a 3 metre extension ladder. That’s 6 metres up the trunk  :

The box entrance is sealed and opened once it’s up the tree (I was told one of the males is a feisty little fellow who would escape if he could). I asked if I could see them in the box and take a photo before they went up. No problems, just raise the lid. My little female (who had been rescued here and was returning home), had acquired a boyfriend in the form of one of the other males—they were together in the first box to go up.  Not the best photo, I’m afraid and they were both sound asleep on a bed of wood shavings :

The box is hoisted up :

Much of the work involves getting the box fixed to the trunk. There are chains top and bottom, enclosed in hose to protect the tree from the chain :

And finally, it’s in place and the entrance hole is opened :

The process was repeated in another location for the second box, containing the single male. He was the feisty one and didn’t get on with the other male, it seems. Not surprisingly, as the female had not chosen him for her friend.

I didn’t take any photos of the second box going up and even though dusk was falling as the girls finished, I didn’t stay outside to watch the gliders exit and discover their new home. The whole process took 2 hours and it was already well past my dinner time and getting cold. I’ll go out for the next couple of evenings at dusk with the spotlight and see if there’s any activity. It’s possible they will eventually abandon the boxes and find one of the many natural tree hollows around the property more to their liking.

I remain full of admiration for these young volunteers who selflessly give up their time to look after our precious native animals and return them to the wild.

 

Some photos—not food related

August 12, 2017

Just spent an enjoyable hour at a lunch put on by the committee of the Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands in Melbourne, for volunteers who man the bird hide which is open to the public on weekends. Good to meet up with other volunteers who are normally just names on a list.

Entrance to the bird hide:

Plenty of Eurasian Coots in residence:

And Black Swans:

More Coots, sheltering at the foot of the reeds:

Enjoying lunch:

Wildlife carers

March 14, 2017

I have a wildlife carer living 5 minutes from me. Over the years I’ve taken ducks, baby birds and possums to her for attention. Today I took a little sugar glider that had become entangled in the barbed wire on the top of the fence (god knows why it was ever put on the fencing here……this isn’t farming country).

A neighbour helped to cut the wire while I held him tight. He was very feisty, yelling abuse at us and biting. I popped him, with the wire still attached, into a pillowcase and took him to the “nice lady down the road who will look after you.”

I’m always amazed at the dedication of wildlife carers. They’re on call 24/7. It’s nothing to have to get up in the wee small hours to feed tiny, furry creatures special wildlife ‘sustagen’ with an eyedropper.

Once, when I called in, she had an injured cormorant in the shower recess. She would open the door and throw it a fish. Another time there was a baby wombat in the spare bedroom. Most of the patients are outside though, in various cages and nest boxes.

Wildlife carers receive some government assistance. But most pay out of their own pockets for the huge quantities of special food and housing that they need. I always make sure when I take her an injured animal that I give her something towards its care. Even just donating unwanted bird cages or offering to make little ‘possum bags’ out of material scraps can be a help.

If you have a wildlife carer in your area, why not call in and see if you can offer any help. Some of them need volunteers to go and pick up injured wildlife, because they can’t often get away to do it themselves. They do a tremendous job, working quietly away in the background to help the tiny creatures that so often are the victims of thoughtless human activities.

I’m writing this because she’s just phoned me back to say the little glider went to the vet and was anaesthetised while he was disentangled from the wire and his injuries were stitched up. Now he’ll be on antibiotics for about 10 days. There’s a good chance he’ll make a full recovery and then I’ll go down and pick him up and release him back into his own home.

The carer tells me that we are gradually losing these species one by one, quietly, in the background and very few people are aware or care. It’s heart-breaking.

For bird lovers….

January 5, 2017

….. a selection of the ABC’s best bird pics of the week to scroll through.

And here’s my personal favourite, a King Parrot, who visits regularly for a meal of sunflower seeds.

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The Thin Green Line

December 24, 2016

Here’s a story from the Guardian about wildlife poaching in Africa.

Wildlife Rangers, whose job is to project wildlife, not just in Africa, but around the world, are being killed in action. If we want these iconic animals to survive into the future (what would the world be like without elephants), we need to support those who are trying to protect them and giving up their lives in the process.

Sean Willmore formed the Thin Green Line Foundation to assist and protect Rangers around the world and equally important, to help the families of those Rangers killed on the job. Check out their website at the link to read their story and see what they do.

I’m writing this because I have a connection of sorts to Sean. He’s an Aussie and back when we bought this bush block, Sean was Conservation Officer in the City of Frankston where I live.  He was also an assessor with the Land for Wildlife voluntary wildlife protection scheme which operates in the state of Victoria. We applied for LFW registration for our property and Sean was the one who came out and assessed it. A great guy—his talents were wasted at our local Council and I’m glad to see he’s moved on to greater things.

I’ve donated to the Thin Green Line in the past and will do so again. It’s a bit late now for this year, but it would make a great Christmas present for a friend or family member next year, to donate to the Foundation in their name, instead of spending money on a glitzy present, then giving them a card to say what you’ve done with the money you would have spent on their present. I know I’d much rather have someone do that than give me a present.

Here’s a short video of Sean being interviewed about the work of the Foundation :

Please consider donating to The Thin Green Line.

 

 

Wildlife surprises

December 15, 2016

Woke up to find this on the deck :

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I heard the screams during the night and thought it was just the possums playing games.  I can’t believe it was a fox….surely he’d have taken the carcass off to eat elsewhere or store for later. Maybe a not-so-hungry, shouldn’t-be-roaming-at-night dog, just biting off the head for the fun of it and not caring about the rest. Thanks for leaving it on my deck, fella! However, I’m more inclined to think of a large owl and the only one we’ve had here big enough to fit the bill, was a Powerful Owl which appeared some years ago and very rare in this area it was, too. We even got our pictures in the local paper over that one, thanks to a friend who was the president of the local birdo group at the time and took a spectacular photo with a better camera than mine. Anyway, I left the rabbit remains down by a tree trunk at the rear of the property and they’d gone next day. I assume the fox picked it up there. Nice to find dinner just lying on the ground and not have to chase it. One rabbit less, which is a good thing.

The other wildlife surprise is this :

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A Magpie Lark has picked the TV aerial to build her beautifully-formed mud nest. What a place to do it! Up there in all weathers in full view of predators! And surrounded by dozens of trees! What was wrong with them? Mr Mudlark has been keeping guard and taking his turn on the nest. I hope they’re successful in raising young, but I’m not hopeful.

Aussie Backyard Bird Count

November 29, 2016

I took part this year for the first time and will do it again next year. This is the email I received from them :

 

More than 61,000 people participated this year, submitting over 45,000 checklists and counting 1.4 million birds!

The Top 10 most counted bird species in Australia remained unchanged for the third year running, with the Rainbow Lorikeet once again claiming the number one spot. Even though scientists recently separated the NT Rainbow Lorikeet into a different species – the Red-collared Lorikeet – the Rainbow Lorikeet was still number one by a wide margin.

While the Top 10 species remained the same there was a bit of movement in the order, with House Sparrows dropping two places, reflecting the current worldwide trend of sparrows disappearing from urban areas. Is this the beginning of the decline of Australia’s House Sparrows? This will be one to watch in next year’s count.

To see the full results or to download the species list for Australia or your state click here. A HUGE thank you to everyone who took part in the #AussieBirdCount. It will be back again next year, from 23-29 October, we hope to have you on board and counting again!

 

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Backyard Buddies

October 13, 2016

I was researching something for an upcoming post when I discovered a fantastic website called Backyard Buddies.

It’s an Australian site (sorry, overseas readers) and it’s all about the critters you can find in a typical Aussie garden, including insects, birds, mammals, frogs, reptiles and plants. There’s information about creating habitats for them and a list of wildlife care organisations in each State, should you need to help a Buddy in trouble. I’ve signed up to receive their regular monthly newsletter and will follow them on Facebook (they’re also on Twitter and Instagram).

Backyard Buddies is a free education program run by the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife.

The article I’ve copied and pasted below is from the site. Go take a look. It’s great!

Leafhoppers

Leafhopper Photo John Tann

Hip Hippity Hoppity Leafhoppers

There’s a spot of yellowy-green, brown or red on your plants and it’s jumping from place to place? Or every time you come to take a closer look it quickly scuttles around to the other side of the leaf?

It could be a leafhopper! They love to bite through leaves, stems and bits of tree trunk to suck up the delicious and nutritious plant sap. Leafhoppers particularly love Eucalyptus trees.

Read more: Leafhoppers

 

Plague!

January 22, 2016

Not Bubonic, but Beetle.

Plague Beetles to be exact.

I had these in the garden a couple of years ago. A few days ago I noticed some on my beans :

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I remembered what they were, but there didn’t seem to be many and they weren’t doing any harm, so I let them be. A day or two later and a friend and I were sitting in the living room having a cup of coffee when she noticed the Woolly Bush in the garden seemed to be drooping significantly (it’s normally an erect shrub) and there were lots of dark blobs in it :

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We went out and had a look. OMG, the bush was full of them. Their weight was dragging the branches down :

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We went back inside and grabbed for our iPads and Google. This CSIRO site seems to be the best for information. There’s a video. We watched in horror, the sight of millions of these things crawling on a tree trunk. We said “Oh, yuk!” Amazingly, they don’t seem to do any harm to plants. They spend their time sucking nectar from flowers and (to be a bit crude) bonking. No wonder they’re a plague!