The Newsletter of Land for Wildlife and Garden for Wildlife in Central Australia - March 2014
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G'day LFWers, GFWers, and friends everywhere.

With temperatures remaining high through most of March, it looks like we might have finally turned a corner with a bit of rain in early April. The lookouts will now be active scouting for wildflower blooms! Perhaps we might be looking at a steady transition into the cooler temperatures of the Centralian winter.

The birds have obviously been busy with lots of young birds about, including a few crows feeding ungainly Channel-billed Cuckoo chicks; more on that later. In the meantime, you might be interested in a new group that has just started in town. Central Australia now has its own regional branch of Australia's leading bird conservation organisation Birdlife Australia. This group meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month out at the Alice Springs Desert Park. For more information and to join up, contact Birdlife Central Australia at birdlifeca@gmail.com

We hope the heat hasn't completely wilted your garden and the wildlife is still visiting regularly. What have you been seeing lately? We love getting member contributions, so feel free to bombard us with any photos and stories of interest from your Land for Wildlife.
 
Ntaria Junior Rangers Campout


Teachers, rangers (junior and senior), ranger co-ordinators; it was all hands on deck for the latest Ntaria Junior Rangers camp-out.

The junior rangers from Ntaria have been out and about again, this time on their end of term camp out. Chris and Matt were invited along to help out and see what they were up to. They kicked off the activities at Ormiston Gorge for some waterhole monitoring coupled with a very welcome swim.


Water hole monitoring; identifying the myriad critters netted around the waterhole requires an expert eye. Luckily we had plenty on hand to help out.

Several species of fish were discovered in the waterhole which had been somewhat replenished by recent rainfall. Apart from the aquatic life, the rangers also found plenty to keep them occupied around the edges of the water as well. Birds were particularly obvious and so was the abundant insect life.




Australasian Privet Hawk Moth Psilogramma casuarinae, was picked out feeding on a River Red Gum by a sharp eyed ranger.

Following the visit to the Ormiston Gorge waterhole, we headed around to Redbank Gorge to set up camp. With many hands the camp went up in no time at all, and Matt and Chris were very well catered for. In the morning we were up at first light for a survey of the bird life around the woodlands campground.


A freshly graded road made a perfect tracking surface in the morning.



Birding or burring? The burrs were thick on the ground, but thankfully so were the birds.

This turned out to be a very successful morning with 17 species identified over about an hour and a half. Of note among these were a few stray Cockatiels and some small flocks of Budgerigar zipping through the canopy. Some junior rangers started to cotton on to the practice of letting their ears do the birdwatching and managed to find both Striated and Red-browed Pardalote (tricky even for experienced birdos) and a small family of White-browed Babblers.

Matt and Chris thank the all of the Tjuwanpa Women Rangers and Ntaria Junior Rangers for having us again on one of their activities. It was a great trip and we very much look forward to the next time we head out west.


 
WHAT IS IT?
A Sticky Identification Conundrum

by Chris Watson with photographs by Samantha Hopley



Local photographer Samantha Hopley has once again stumped us by sending in some of her stunning images of the local wildlife around her patch. This time it was a stick insect that had her shutter clicking but identifying her subject has turned out to be not so easy.





My stick insect references are thin on the ground and, unusually, the internet has drawn a blank. If you've got a particular penchant for the stick-like blighters, or if you've got better books than I do, I'd love you to put me out of my misery.

With many invertebrate groups, identification to genus-level is considered something of a success so any hints on the identity of this bloke will be very welcome.

WHAT IS IT?
Who To Follow


BirdLife Australia
A voice for Australia's birds.
@BirdlifeOz


Alice Moldovan
ABC local's Alice Springs field reporter (and closet birdwatcher)
@AliceMoldovan
 
On The Eco-net...

Time to take a pragmatic approach and "triage" critically endangered species? An important conversation.

Link to article on ABC News

"Giant chickens from hell"?...
Link to article in The Age

A magnificent milestone in pest eradication
Link to article in Australian Geographic

Sure, we've got crocs in Ellery Creek, but at least we don't have sharks...
Link to article in WA Today

Aussie birds in the limelight
Link to article in The Australian

Free, online bird biology course.
Link to course at Cornell University

 
Thanks for reading. Keep your socks dry and we'll see you next month!

Jesse, Chris, Matt, & Bill.
April
2014
Copyright © 2014 Low Ecological Services, All rights reserved.


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