pic - Summer is upon us and the warmer nights have brought the ranges to life. This Centralian Carpet Python Morelia bredli, was found by a waterhole in the West MacDonnell Range. See below for a closer look at pythons found around Central Australia. Chris Watson
G'day LFWers, GFWers, and friends everywhere.
The year is almost at a close but with a few storms starting to sweep across the central deserts we've certainly got plenty more wildlife to see before the year is out.
This month LFW have been up in Darwin to support fellow Centralians taking away TNRM awards; out at Ntaria to support the White Ribbon Day March condemning violence against women in our community; and all over town frantically counting feral birds.
In this month's newsletter, new LFW coordinator Tim Dowling sets out on his multi-part journey to help everyone get the most from their property - part one covers the A to Z of water. We also give you the low-down on all of our travels, our feature article on some non-venomous snakes found around Alice Springs, and all of the usual features: book reviews, eco-news from across the universe, and a couple of impressive member contributions.
TNRM conference highlights the achievements of local champions.
Chris recently attended the TNRM annual conference in Darwin to represent Land for Wildlife here in The Centre. We were welcomed with some typically steamy November weather and an immaculately organised event from start to finish. All the speakers and award finalists and winners get their acknowledgements in due course, but congratulations and thanks must go to TNRM and all of the team involved in putting on the event - it was a privilege to be involved.
Following a day of workshop sessions with a variety of inspiring speakers, it was the brand new Darwin Convention Centre that hosted the conference proper. Attendees were treated to a full day program with a variety of interesting presentations from across the Territory. The Red Centre was ably represented by Ben Kaethner from CLC with the Munguru Munguru Gurindji Rangers (Burning Without Borders ) and Rachel Paltridge & Christine Michaels from Desert Wildlife Services and Nyirripi Rangers (Investigating the potential for strategic predator control to protect the Great Desert Skink at Newhaven Sanctuary).
Rachel Paltridge and the team at DWS went on to win the award for Small Business Initiative in NRM, the Munguru Munguru Ranger Group won the award for Outstanding Ranger Group, and Alice Springs NRM author and guru Andy Vinter was awarded with recognition as the Individual NRM Champion for his founding of the local Landcare group and his many years of local conservation work.
Congratulations to all the winners and finalists and thank you for your many years of dedication to NRM in the Northern Territory.
Looking After Your Land for Wildlife - Part I: Water
by Tim Dowling.
This is the first in a series of articles on the practicalities of having a Land for Wildlife or Garden for Wildlife property.
Writing here in Alice Springs water is a big issue; its use and conservation. I hope this article can shed some light on the subject.
Watering new plants in Alice Springs through the long summer will need irrigation of some kind. Hand watering is good but consistency is what the plants are after. Automatic systems are popular. When altering or installing a new system try to make it flexible so that it can be moved and altered as the garden grows. Generally, to establish and sustain the plant life on a property where you're hoping to attract wildlife, a dripline or individual drippers are ideal. Drippers can sprout from the main line directly or from extensions of 4mm pipe. Dripline is used for an even distribution of water. This is a commercially available 13mm poly tube that has inbuilt drippers at even intervals, typically every 300mm. This is often used to irrigate permanent crops such as grape vines and orchards. It can be installed below ground in a matrix to water lawns and garden beds. Irrigation is great to help establish gardens. After a couple of seasons when the plant-life is established, the water may be diminished, or depending on how daring you are, cut off altogether.
If you have taken over an established garden then it is wise to monitor the growth and health of established trees. Sometimes it is easy to overlook the health of trees as there is a focus on shrubs and vegetation at eye height. You may find established trees are used to a certain watering regime and have developed a root system to match. An established tree used to a regime of sprays three times a week may suffer if the water is cut back. It may start to wilt, lose leaves and die back bit by bit. One solution would be to do a deep watering every two or three days or weekly in summer to allow the development of a deeper root system. Letting the soil dry out from the top encourages the roots to develop deeper.
Water for animals
Water for animals is important. It is common to have water out for birds. Often this is above ground level so that they feel secure while drinking, able to see that there are no predators about. To encourage mammals, reptiles and even insects on larger properties an available water source at ground level can work well. The opposite is also true for discouraging feral mammals (goats, camels, pigs etc) - remove the water and your block immediately becomes less attractive to unwanted visitors. This has been done successfully at Gluepot Reserve north of Waikerie, South Australia. Owned by Birdlife Australia and run by volunteers. They filled in or fenced off dams, capped tanks, decommissioned sheep troughs and reinstated wetlands to provide a bird sanctuary on what was an old sheep farm. In strategic areas they installed high troughs for permanent water perhaps 2.5 m in height. Here they also installed a bird hide so that bird observation is easy and rewarding. In doing this, combined with other active control measures, they successfully reduced the number of feral goats to a manageable level. If you are ever in that part of the world it is definitely worth visiting.
Water capture and retention.
When it does rain it is advantageous to slow the passage of water through the property, to allow it to soak into the ground and be available to your plants, not someone elseâ€™s down the way. Have the water hang around as long as possible; especially in our dry parts of Central Australia. Here are some landscape ideas to help water retention:
1. Pervious paving. Paving that water can penetrate. This could mean paving stones laid into a bed of sand or gravel. Vegetation can grow between the stones and if it is a high traffic area then a quick trip over the area with a mower or line trimmer is all that is required to keep vegetation down. It could mean a layer of gravel or even organic mulch as an informal pedestrian path. If the paving has to be hard such as concrete or asphalt then angle the paving so that it drains into the surrounding areas. Many drainage points rather than one big one is best as it minimises erosion and maximises water dispersal.
2. Swales in the soil or landscape allow for water to pool for a while before sinking into the ground or flowing onwards. Swales are undulations in the surface of the landscape usually running along the contours of the land. These really can be any size from small furrows left by a rake or sets of harrows to mounds and furrows created by a backhoe or grader. The size all depends on available resources and amount of water to save or retard.
3. Rainwater is best kept on the property either in the soil or in tanks. With tanks there is a lot of infrastructure. Maybe there is a case to be said for getting out there (not in the heat) and digging some areas so that water doesnâ€™t escape if it does land on your place. Stream the water off the roof into the garden where you want it. This can be done via down spouts that are piped into a swale. Or, if there is no guttering, and you have a chance to alter the hard landscaping around the place then angle paving away from the house and into gardens. Train the water through channels and swales. Keep that precious water as much as possible. Of course there has to be a limit or an overflow mechanism for stormwater so that the house or any structures are not put at risk of flooding. In Alice Springs when it rains it often comes in storms. So there needs to be a safety mechanism so that flooding does not occur.
4. Organic or inorganic mulch is practical for smaller gardens. Mulch can usually be purchased from landfill sites or recycling centres; also arborists generate mulch that is easily used. Inorganic mulch is good for keeping moisture in, allowing water to penetrate as well as being good for traffic (either foot of vehicular). Larger properties though will have to employ other, more cost effective techniques for mulching.
5. Encourage the build-up of organic mulch. Leaf litter and a living mulch such as low growing grasses or forbs (low growing herbaceous plants, not grasses) are perfect. Although in rural properties there is always the risk of fire. In these circumstances keep your fire plan in mind.
Greywater can be harvested from the laundry and bathrooms. Diversion devices can be attached by a plumber to tap into this source. There are a lot of products on the market to help with grey water collection and distribution. You canâ€™t hold or store greywater for more than 24 hours and is best not to let it pool anywhere or flood into your neighbours place! It is useful for watering permanent trees and orchards. Keep it clear of vegetable gardens as there are certain products that we use that are not good to ingest. Although filtered through woody plants such as an orange tree grey water is absolutely fine. It should be delivered beneath a mulch layer. When choosing bathroom and laundry products, pick the ones that are low in phosphorus. This tends to build up in soils and can start to poison plants.
Iâ€™m sure there are plenty more ideas on planning for water on your property. If you have something that has been missed here and you are busting to let everyone know then send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will include it in the next edition of the newsletter.
Alice Springs Feral Bird Count
by Chris Watson
above: this is what the map looks like - 52 counts, 210 feral birds, with an obvious spread of Spotted Doves south of The Gap.
The results are in from our town-wide feral bird count on Friday 7th of November. The news isn't all bad
but it seems clear that we still have a big job on our hands if we're to eradicate feral Spotted Doves from Alice Springs; and there are a few other feral birds creeping into the picture.
The map above gives a fair indication of the concentration of birds: Eastside, Northside, Larapinta, and Gillen all yielded high counts and there were a few birds counted south of the gap spreading around Palm Circuit and down Ross Highway.
above: Pretty feral. The main target of our feral bird count: Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis. This bird was snapped by Land for Wildlife coordinator Chris Watson during his count at Olive Pink Botanic Garden.
In all we received 52 completed 20 minute counts from a good spread of sites across town. 19 of these counts recorded no feral birds, with the remainder yielding reports of 210 Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis, 70 Rock Doves Columba livia, and 2 Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus. We received no counts from locations where Rainbow Lorikeets are known to have bred so perhaps the population of this species is larger than the survey results suggest.
The 70 Rock Doves (feral pigeons) counted on Baldissera Drive are cause for some concern. This is a species that was once established in Alice Springs but was successfully eradicated. The flock counted on Baldissera are pets that have been abandoned by the owner of the block who has simply left their coop open and moved interstate, leaving the birds to fend for themselves. This is irresponsible and typical of how feral populations get a head start. A founding flock of 70 birds will roost together while their food and water lasts and then spread out to search for resources and nesting sites once it is apparent that their supply has dried up. Then we're back to square one.
above: feral Rock Doves Columba livia - what most people refer to as the plain old feral pigeon found in almost every city on Earth. These birds were photographed on Baldissera Drive. With a restricted natural range in North Africa, southern Europe and southern Asia, the adaptability of this species has seen it establish massive feral populations on every continent except Antarctica. It is more than capable of re-establishing here in Alice Springs. Chris Watson.
We hope that with the help of BirdLife Central Australia, Alice Springs Desert Park, Alice Springs Town Council, and interested community members we can quickly contain this new feral threat and eventually get on top of the existing feral Spotted Dove infestation which is obviously spreading.
Thank you to everyone who sent in their counts on Friday. This is an activity that we intend to conduct regularly so keep an eye on these pages as we will be asking for your counts again soon. Also in the works is another feral dove trapping workshop. These events are a perfect opportunity to ask any questions you might have about feral birds and Land for Wildlife will provide all the materials and instruction you need to make your own feral bird trap to take home with you - FREE!
If anyone would like a copy of the final count, we have it all mapped out and available as a . KML file for use with Google Earth. This will allow you to zoom in and out and see exactly where your count fits in, and how it compares with other parts of town. Just get in touch and we'll email the .KML file straight through.
White Ribbon Day: A March Against Violence at Ntaria
by Katie Degnian
above: everyone turned out for this important day. Gerard Lessels.
Land for Wildlife coordinators and staff from Low Ecological Services were chuffed to take part in the White Ribbon Day anti-domestic violence march at Ntaria (Hermannsburg) on Wednesday 19th December. The entire community turned out for the march which was supported by a huge array of local community groups. There were school students along with teachers, police, Tjuwanpa Rangers, health workers, truancy officers, SES, Army, dentists, mining officers and National Parks Rangers all marching together with white ribbons and banners for a safe community, strong families, and respect in the community. The parade followed talks by police, Ntaria Elder Conrad Ntara, a performance from the Ntaria school students and a BBQ to celebrate a 50 per cent decrease in violence at in the Ntaria community over the past year.
above: some of the local SES crew with there White Ribbon Day Banner. Gerard Lessels.
Land for Wildlife staff Jesse, Angela, Tim and Katie then attended Careers Day at Ntaria School. Ntaria students are enthusiastic naturalists and particularly interested in animal trapping methods. The students often trap feral rabbits and cats and have an incredible knowledge of local flora and fauna and their Western Arrernte language names.
above: even the horses wore their white ribbons with pride! Gerard Lessels.
White Ribbon Day is an annual event organised by Gerard Lessels, White Ribbon Day Ambassador and the Tjuwanpa Womenâ€™s Ranger coordinator. Land for Wildlife work with Gerard to help coordinate the Ntaria Junior Rangers Program. School students said they have enjoyed Land for Wildlifeâ€™s visits and are keen for more biodiversity activities soon.
Thanks to Gerard, Conrad, and the whole Ntaria mob for the invitation, and having us in your community once again.
Feel the Squeeze: Pythons of the Red Centre
by Chris Watson
When people think of snakes in the Red Centre, they're most likely thinking of something highly venomous. The sort of thing that tour guides use to rattle backpackers into rolling their swags tightly in the morning. We do have more than our fair share of venomous snakes here, but perhaps less obvious are some of the non-venomous pythons that occur here. As the summer progresses and the nights get warmer, it is a perfect time to find some of these animals. They're not always easy to find, but they are well worth the time spent looking.
Most python species are known for taking comparatively large prey so they can often be identified by their large heads and narrow necks. All pythons lack venom and kill their prey by using their muscular bodies to constrict their prey's breathing leading to asphyxiation. Another useful identification feature can be the heat-sensory pits along the lower mandible that assist them finding prey. These are present and fairly obvious in all but two species of local pythons (see below). But if you're not sure of the identity of a snake by the time you're looking for pits on its lower jaw you're probably already too close for safety. Snakes are not naturally aggressive, so keep your distance and you can admire the view in safety.
above: a very defensive Stimson's Python Antaresia stimsoni, on the Mereenie Loop west of Alice Springs. The picture may be deceptive; this is a very small snake, about 70cm long and only about as thick as your thumb. Chris Watson
The most common of the Centralian python species is Stimson's Python Antaresia stimsoni. This is a charming little snake with large adults only occasionally growing longer than a metre. Around Alice Springs they are most common out in the ranges; in rocky areas, and often close to waterholes. An ambush predator like most pythons, they commonly take smaller reptiles including other snakes and skinks as well as frogs and small mammals. It's easily identified around Alice Springs by its beautiful blotched patterns of subdued browns and tans. An evening visit to any waterhole in the region after dark is likely to produce an encounter with one of these little blokes - perhaps hunting frogs around the edges of the rocks.
above: The glossy black head of the Black-headed Python Aspidites melanocephalus. Chris Watson
above: This Black-headed Python was found on the Stuart Highway just south of Wauchope, but you can sometimes find them further south still on the plains north of Alice Springs along the Plenty Highway. Chris Watson.
At the other end of the size scale, the Black-headed Python Aspidites melanocephalus, is a snake that you're probably unlikely to find outside of a terrarium in Alice Springs. But you don't have to travel too far to the north to start finding these majestic larger pythons in the warmer months. A large adult specimen might grow to over 3 metres but animals in the 2-3 metre range are more common. You'll start to encounter these animals on the plains to the north of Alice Springs from about the Plenty Highway northwards, and by the time you get to Tennant Creek they are fairly common out across the entire Barkly region. This is something of a specialist reptile hunter but will also take mammals when they're available. Like the other species in the Aspidites genus, it lacks the heat-sensing pits along the lower jaw which are characteristic of most other python species. Another identification feature is that distinctive glossy black head, but there are venomous elapids that share this feature so, as always, it is wise to keep a safe distance.
above: a camera trap image of a Woma Python from Angas Downs IPA, south of Alice Springs. JennyKS wikicommons
The other Aspidites python is the Woma A. ramsayi. Sadly, this is a snake that you must be either very lucky or very persistent (or both) to encounter in the wild. It has declined across most of its range due to the alteration of habitat by land-clearing . It is currently classified as endangered by the IUCN. It's similar in appearance to the the Black-headed Python but usually smaller. Its bands are a paler colour and it lacks the obvious black head and also lacks heat pits on the lower jaw.
above: a slightly more identifiable picture of a Woma Python. image: http://www.free-desktop-backgrounds.net/Animal-reptiles-wallpapers/Snake-wallpapers/Woma-python-snike--Aspidites-ramsayi-.html.
The jewel in Central Australia's reptile crown, that you will certainly find around Alice Springs is the Centralian Carpet Python Morelia bredli. This striking species is beautifully patterned in yellow and brick red with delicate black lacework. Its range is limited to rocky areas and tree-lined watercourses within a few hundred kilometres of Alice Springs, so it is a true Red Centre endemic. They prey on a variety of local animals; frogs and reptile species around waterholes, cockatoo chicks ambushed in their hollows high in the River Red Gums, and mammals up to the size of Black-flanked Rock Wallabies are taken by larger specimens.
above: an adult Centralian Carpet Python in the West MacDonnell Range. Chris Watson.
Any of these species might be found during spotlighting excursions around the Red Centre. It's always fun to go out looking for our more spectacular reptile fauna, a practice known as herping to those who get right into it, but wildlife should always be viewed from a distance; both for the safety of the observer and the animals being observed. None of these species is venomous but all can still deliver a painful bite which results in stress to the animal as well as the obvious suffering of the recipient.
Both Stimson's Python and the Carpet Python are known to sometimes appear in peoples' yards around Alice Springs so if you keep an eye out during the warmer weather you might find that you have a natural mouse control expert living right in your back yard.
From the bookshelf...
Olive Pink Botanic Garden: A Guide Booklet
Produced by the staff and volunteers of Olive Pink Botanic Garden past and present
With an introduction by Peter Latz
"Dear Olive Pink. We owe her a great deal. She was a funny old bird...", began Peter Latz at the launch for this book early in November. He proceeded with some fond recollections of the indomitable figure familiar to many these days as Olive Pink. To those senior residents who actually met or knew her though, she is usually referred to by the more deferential Miss Pink.
A who's who of Alice Springs' botanising community and gardeners packed the function room at Miss Pink's garden to pay respect to the great lady and her vision, and to celebrate the launch of this wonderful new guide booklet. As Peter Latz writes in his introduction to the booklet the gardens are "globally unique", and so it was good to see such a solid turn out from the community. The garden's many partners and supporters: ALEC, DLRM, APS Alice Springs, ASFNS, ASDP, were all in attendance.
It was launched by the aforementioned renowned Central Australian botanist Peter Latz along with Senior Botanist Peter Jobson, Chair of the Board of Trustees Libby Prell, and the new Curator of the Botanic Garden Ian Coleman.
above: a packed house welcomes the launch of the new guide booklet on the 5th of November. Chris Watson.
The producers have packed a lot of information into this 32 page booklet. Much more than just a guide to layout and plant species, it contains brief histories of both Miss Pink and her garden along with an introduction to Centralian flora and the garden by Peter Latz. We all know how expensive printing can be so the team have done well to put together such a slick product. There are high quality colour images throughout and the paper is thick enough to prevent your finger sweat soaking through and causing too much damage on those February walks up Annie Meyers Hill.
Congratulations to everyone at OPBG on a great new publication, and may it pay dividends in the donation tin. We look forward to the second edition!
Read more about the launch on ABC Alice Springs here: Guide book for Alice Springs botanic garden
The Cloudspotter's Guide: the science, history, and culture of clouds
by Gavin Pretor-Pinney
"Although cloudspotting is an activity best undertaken with time on your hands, it is something that everyone can enjoy. Clouds are the most egalitarian of Nature's displays, since each of us has a good view of them, so it really doesn't matter where you are."
So reads the blurb of this founding publication of The Cloud Appreciation Society (yes, it really exists and has almost 40,000 members - join up!) This charismatic book is approaching its tenth year and the business of Cloudspotting has never been busier. And the best thing about the activity of cloudspotting? It is utterly pointless, the author claims. In a world where we have so much of apparent import to fill our time, getting your head among the clouds might be just the thing to reset your priorities - and you can do it anywhere. The society has now launched a companion Cloudspotter app for smart phones which acts as both a field guide to clouds, and as a competitive global spotting game.
At just over 300 pages, this is not a massive book, but it is nonetheless, as claimed in the title, a comprehensive survey of the science, history, and culture of clouds. And there is probably much more to clouds than you thought. The history of art is full of references to, and depictions of, clouds. With weather being of particular interest to many of us desert-dwellers this book will fine-tune your ability to 'read the skies' and understand when rain is likely to be on the way. Centralians reading this book may also note that we are lucky to get a few varieties of clouds here that are much rarer elsewhere in the world. The strong convection generated by our hot summer days combined with a mostly flat topography can have some interesting effects that are not often replicated in cooler or wetter climes.
In any case, as the introduction warns - looking up will never be the same again. Both as a reference and a highly readable general introduction to the addictive and contagious activity of cloudspotting, this book comes highly recommended.
If this has piqued your interest, you may like to venture deeper at the Cloud Appreciation Society's webpage here: http://cloudappreciationsociety.org/ Here you can get a copy of the book autographed by the author, fantastic cloud calendars, and peruse extensive galleries of user submitted cloud photographs or submit your own.
And if you're a smartphone user, you might be interested in having a look at the Cloudspotter app here: https://cloudspotterapp.com/
Birds of Australia: A Photographic Guide
by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods, and Nick Leseberg
With photographs by Geoff Jones
Nothing gets the birdos excited like the arrival of a new field guide. This one stands out from the crowd in the sense that for the last few years you might have been forgiven for assuming we were moving away from photographic field guides. Australia has always been blessed with numerous field guides to birds. Since Neville Cayley's benchmark 'What Bird Is That?' we have had numerous versions of Australia's avifauna served up to us in different formats, with a variety of taxonomic treatments, some with photographs, others with colour drawings or paintings of varying quality. There have been a few photographic field guides produced in Australia over the years, but none to any great acclaim. The Big Four, as they are known to those in the game (Slater, Simpson & Day, Pizzey & Knight, Morecombe), are all illustrated by hand, with drastically differing degrees of success. With more birdwatchers now carrying smart devices with field guide applications (and many of those having extensive digital photo galleries of most species), it's getting harder to argue for paper volumes which are out of date as soon as they go to press; hard to use in difficult weather, and don't come with internet connectivity and an archive of recordings of all the birds' songs - the ultimate in aids to identification. We've been told for some time now about the imminent arrival of the CSIRO field guide which promises to be the final word on field guides to Australian birds. But this remains to be seen.
Regardless of the pros and cons of photographic-versus-artistic field guide illustration, the advent of commonplace and high quality digital photography has clearly borne fruit in this case. This is a great book and a very good field guide. The photography is incomparable having been supplied for the most part by Geoff Jones; without doubt among the finest bird photographers in the country if not the world.
It's not just the photographs either. Even seasoned bird chasers should learn a thing or two with a careful reading of the introductory chapters on Australian habitats. Understanding habitats is the real key to finding Australian birds. So in that regard as well this book excels.
The only criticism it is likely to suffer is on weight; it is printed on good quality stock and has a heft to it for a book that you might conceive of throwing in a day pack. But the truth is that field guides like this, for many of us, increasingly live in the glove box or on the desk by the computer. On your own 'patch' it is rare to need to consult a field guide and on those occasions the smart phone app will suffice. Australia is a big place too, with a bird list well north of 800 species so any comprehensive field guide is always going to be fairly large.
At the end of the day, it is a wonderful luxury to have numerous field guides to consult on the distribution and identification of our birdlife. This book will be a great addition to the other field guides on our shelves, and for me it will be somewhere near the top of the pile.
What have you been reading?
We'd love to feature more reviews from members and friends in this section. Have you read some good wildlife books lately? Maybe you have a favourite smartphone app relating to your natural history interests?
Put it all down in an email, and we'd love to include your input in future newsletters.
All the environmental and wildlife news that's fit to re-print
Bush Stone-curlew reintroduced in ACT after being considered locally extinct for 40 years
Link to article at ABC News
BioBlitz to survey Melbourne's flora and fauna (gives me an idea for Alice Springs...)
Link to article in the Sydney Morning Herald
137 Snubfin Dolphins identified in Roebuck Bay, but pressure on the population prompts calls for marine sanctuary
Link to article in Perth Now
New fauna discovered during six-year project mapping ocean floor of WA's Kimberley coast
Link to article on ABC News
New research body for invasive species starts to take form
Link to article on ABC Rural
Plan to eradicate feral cats
Link to video and transcript on ABC Lateline
Erratic rain patterns can change the taste of your tea
Link to story on Science Alert
Some cats are worth looking after (hint: not feral cats)
Link to story on SBS
Alice Springs twitchers blitz National Bird Week
Link to story on ABC Alice Springs
Wildlife Crime: Conviction for English egg collector who 'exported' crimed to Bulgaria
Link to story on RBA
Captive breeding success for giant tortoise species on Galapagos island
Link to story on ABC Environment
Wildlife habitat takes flight on Cumberland Plain
Link to story in the SMH
UK 'Tree of the Year' competition finalists announced - one for the Significant Tree folks
Link to story on BBC News England
Google Earth tours of glacial change over time - a great science teaching resource
Link to files and instructions on NOAA Climate
Big find of native animals
Link to story on Yahoo News
Call for Australian cats to be kept indoors
Link to story on ABC Environment
Sandfishes and kin: of sand-swimming, placentation, and limb and digit reduction. The third and final part in Tetrapod Zoology's summary of skinks.
Link to article on Tetrapod Zoology
Netherlands unveils world's first solar bike lane
Link to story on BBC Capital
Tasmanian farmers and environmentalists team up to eradicate feral cat threat
Link to story on ABC News
Too good to lose: how to reverse the species declines at Kakadu
Link to story on The Conversation
Cane Toad problem 'worse than feral cats,' as Northern Territory program funding dries up
Link to story on Bush Telegraph
Arid climate decimated ancient devils
Link to story on ABC Science
Feral cats face new weapon
Link to story in The West Australian
WA man dies from snake bite
NB: Do not approach or touch snakes - call the snake phone on 0407 983 276
Link to story in The West Australian
Managing top predators
Link to story in ECOS
Dying to be clean: The new technique for controlling feral cats
Link to story in the SMH
Scientists seek evolution solution to save native animals from feral killers
Link to story in the SMH
Science plays matchmaker to boost bandicoot breeding
Link to story in The Age
Fact check: Are feral cats killing over 20 billion native animals a year?
Link to story on ABC News
Top End Land for Wildlife is GO!
Link to the wonderful LFW Top End website
Extinction: a matter of life and death?
Link to story on The Philosopher's Zone
Citizen scientists surveying Canberra's Gang-Gang Cockatoos
Link to story on ABC News
The Centralian Camel Cull
Link to story on Landline
Locally extinct hare-wallaby found in Kimberley
Link to story on Nine MSN
Wildlife cybercrime worth millions
Link to story in Green Lifestyle
Orange-bellied Parrots' wild population doubles after scientific recovery program
Link to story on ABC News
It's official - the phantom big black cat is back
Link to story in The Australian
Happy final newsletter for the year!
Thanks for reading again folks. We hope the approaching festive season treats you well. We'll take a short break over the holidays but we'll be back in January in time to continue the service.
Thank you all for your contributions over 2014 and we hope you have enjoyed reading your newsletter this year. Keep the pics and stories flowing in over the break and we'll make sure the newsletter is bigger and better next year.
Stay safe and we'll see you in 2015.
Jesse, Chris, Tim, Katie & Bill.