The Newsletter of Land for Wildlife and Garden for Wildlife in Central Australia - February, 2016
 
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Central-netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis) hides motionless amongst the Tar vine (Boerhavia coccinea), waiting for breakfast to wander by at Rainbow Valley. J. Kreusser.


Land for Wildlife

Garden for Wildlife

 

Central Australia


Newsletter February 2016


Welcome back (to town) and forward into 2016 ...!
 

Alice was splashed with a spectrum of green growth and freshness in early January, giving it a fresh glow for the start of 2016! We are excited about the changes that rain brings to Central Australia and noticing much life and vibrancy, such as the Witchetty bush (Acacia kempeana) and Red-bud mallee (Eucalyptus pachyphylla) in bloom! Have you seen any Hawk moths lately?

This month we are sharing the great work that the Green Army are doing at Olive Pink Botanic Garden and we also encourage you to go outside and have a go at plant ID or go out on an upcoming activity (see article and 'What's on' below) as the warm January rains have led to the germination of a range of native understorey plants. 

Are you interested in working with the Land for Wildlife team? Low Ecological Services P/L is looking for an enthusiastic staff member - see below.
.

Green Army Coordinator, S.Weir (left)) with the Green Army Team at OPBG, see article below. S. Weir.

 

What's On...

  • Tuesday 9th February - 5.30pm-6.30pm - Alice Springs Landcare invites you to a 'Walk, talk and weed'. Meet opposite the Rhonda Diano Oval carpark and Braitling Primary School on Head St Northside. Covered footwear is recommended. RSVP to A. Vinter (andy_vinter@yahoo.com.au) for factsheet to print (optional).
  • Wednesday 10th February - 7.00pm - Alice Springs Field Naturalists meeting - CDU Higher Education Building. Presentation by Lisa and Pete Nunn on the wildlife seen on their recent African adventure. All Welcome.
  • Sunday 14th February - 8am - Meet opposite Old Timers, Stuart Hwy for a visit to Peter Latz's block in all its green glory (facilitated by Alice Springs Field Naturalists). All Welcome.
  • Wednesday 24th February - 7.00pm - Alice Springs Desert Park Education room - Birdlife Central Australia Meeting, 'Birds seen over summer'.
  • Sunday 28th February - 7.30am - Alice Springs Shorebird Count - Meet at Sewage Ponds gates (facilitated by Birdlife Central Australia).
  • Sunday 6th March - 7.30pm - Social Birding, Meet at Sewage Ponds gates (facilitated by Birdlife Central Australia).
  • Wednesday 9th March - 7.00pm - Alice Springs Field Naturalists meeting - CDU Higher Education Building. Presentation by Andy Vinter - 'Tackling the prickly problem of invasive cacti in Alice Springs'. All Welcome.

Looking for things to do this year?

  • Volunteer for National Trust and greet visitors at the Hartley Street School and/or the Stuart Town Gaol (in order to keep them open to the public). Shifts available: 10.30am - 12.30am or 12.30pm -2.30pm, Monday to Friday. Contact: mcds.ntnt@internode.on.net or 08 8952 4516 (Prue Crouch) to get involved.

Are you borrowing a dog trap?

  • We would like to hear from those members who are borrowing a dog trap. We think there are one or two traps that may have slipped through the net. Get in touch and let us know if this is you. Thanks for your support. (08 89555222; lfw@lowecol.com.au).

Happy New Year!
 
Cheers,

Jen, Tim and Bill
LfW and GfW team
lfw@lowecol.com.au


Alice Springs Land for Wildlife Coordinator Position

  • As many of you know, Land for Wildlife in Alice Springs is a voluntary nature conservation program which encourages private landholders to maintain and improve native habitat on their properties. Coordination involves facilitation of workshops, environmental assessments of properties, newsletter publications, funding submissions, report writing and administration. Low Ecological Services P/L are looking for an enthusiastic and  experienced person to contribute to the coordination of the Alice Springs based Land for Wildlife program. Please contact Low Ecological Services on 08 8955 5222 or email lfw@lowecol.com.au to obtain the Land for Wildlife coordinator position description and selection criteria.



 

Wildcare Inc. is looking for Wildlife release sites


*Reminder* Wildcare Inc. and Parks and Wildlife Officers are working together to identify potential sites for release of animals (in particular Red Kangaroos) that have recovered from sickness, injury or being orphaned and have asked for your help. Sites that offer sufficient natural sources of shelter, food and water are ideal. Red Kangaroos prefer open, fairly flat country (not rocky), with a diversity of vegetation including groundcovers, middle storey and upper storey vegetation. If you think you might know of a potential site for release of Red Kangaroos (Macropus rufus) or other animals, get in touch. Photos (below): J.Tyne.

Member lead walks: interested in hosting a short walk on your Land for Wildlife property?


We would like to facilitate 'Member lead walks', that offer LfW members the opportunity to meet their neighbors, share points of interest, features and long-term changes on their property as a result from their land management efforts. We know that the collaborative knowledge and experience held among our members is extensive. If you are interested in inviting other members to your property for a short stroll and to share some of your experiences we would love to hear from you.

Olive Pink Botanic Garden and Green Army Program


Olive Pink Botanic Garden (Land for Wildlife members) has successfully received  funds through the Green Army Project, to support management of its natural and cultural diversity. During a visit in December 2015, the Green Army team were constructing a fence to protect the area from grazing herbivores (rabbits, wallabies, euros). Although there is a great diversity of plants already present within the specified area of 65m x 20m (on the western boundary of the gardens), this added protection will allow the diversity of seeds germinating from the soil 'seed bank' following these warm rains to establish. With buffel grass managed/removed within the area, it's likely that other grasses, forbs and herbs will grow without competition from invasive grasses (buffel, couch). They also have intentions to plant various rare grasses within the fenced area. 

Great work Green Army Team and Olive Pink Botanic Garden, your efforts to construct a fence will bring great diversity to the site! Thank you for inviting Land for Wildlife to come along to promote the project.



Olive Pink Botanic Garden staff , working with Green Army Supervisor Sara Weir and the Green Army Team to construct a herbivore protection fence on the western boundary of the gardens. J. Kreusser.


Fencing installed by Green Army participants at Olive Pink Botanic Garden will remove native and feral herbivores grazing on the delicious native grasses, forbs and herbs at the site. S. Weir.

Practice Activity: Plant Identification

Rain showers through late December and January have brought freshness to the desert, encouraging germination of a variety of herbs, forbs and grasses. It's a perfect time to see what is happening at your place. With plants flourishing, they are much easier to identify as many produce flowers and seed in only a few weeks after rain. We thought we would share some common ones germinating around the place.


Tar Vine (Boerhavia coccineais a prostrate (spreading) herb and favourite food of Yeperenye caterpillars (see pictures below). Its stems and leaves have tiny sticky hairs and small light pink flowers. J. Kreusser.


Pigweed (Portaculaca oleracea) is an annual, succulent herb with rounded leaves producing distinguishable yellow flowers. J.Kreusser.

  
Bluebush (Maireana scleroptera) has soft leaves covered with fine white hairs. J. Kreusser.


Bluebush (Maireana scleroptera) a small forb, showing its soft white seed cases attached directly to the stem. This is a non-prickly forb, that upon first glance may look like Scleroleana spp. however it does not have prickles! J. Kreusser.


Button grass (Dactyloctenium radulans) is an annual grass germinating quickly after warm rains, though until it produces its 'button-shaped' seed head, it could easily be confused with buffel grass seedlings in its initial growth phase, though contains a wavy leaf margin. J. Kreusser.


Pin Sida (Sida fibulifera) is a short herb that has narrow serrated leaves and flowers and germinates quickly after warm rains. J.Kreusser.


This Pin Side (Sida fibulifera) is also a host plant for one of the Yeperenye caterpillars that are munching their way through plants such as this one! [Can you spot the caterpillar in the image above?]. J. Kreusser.

A prostrate native ground cover Caltrop or Goathead burr (Tribulus eichlerianus), has a compound leaf structure (6-10 leaflet pairs) and yellow flowers with five petals. The native Tribulus sp. (pictured) has a larger and hairier fruit than the introduced variety. There are seven Tribulus spp. in NT (Urban, 2001), one of which, Tribulus terrestris, is a class B and C declared weed. It's likely you have met this plant through a barefoot walk in your yard or about camp! J. Kreusser.

Further reading and books sales:

Dhanji, S. (2009). Weeds of Central Australia: a field guide. Greening Australia, Darwin.

Forth, F. & Vinter, A. (2007). Native plants for Central Australian gardens. Greening Australia. [Available for purchase from Land for Wildlife].

Urban, A. (2001). Wildflowers & plants of inland Australia. Paul Fitzsimons, Alice Springs.

Vinter, A. (2012). The Alice Springs Bush Regeneration Handbook. Alice Springs. [Available for purchase from Land for Wildlife].


Kangaroo Books, Todd Mall Alice Springs specialise in a wide range of publications relevant to Central Australia.

Buffel Grass Management Survey



We have been contacted by researcher and ecologist, John Read from South Australia, who is estimating the amount of resource spent on buffel grass management. 

We know many of our members spend time and money controlling buffel. 
Can you answer some simple questions and email an answer back at LfW@lowecol.com.au?

1. What is your property size?

2. Where do you live (just the state/territory is fine eg NT, SA, etc)?


3. How much time have you spent on controlling buffel over the past 12 months (whether it was successful or not)?  [Think of how much time you spent last week doing it?  Was that typical? We will put in your time as a default $30/hr. If it is any different then let us know].

4. How much money over the last 12 months have you spent on chemicals tools contractors etc?

Thank you for emailing your response to: LfW@lowecol.com.au


 

Photos and stories from our members and friends...

These are some of the different colours of the Yeperenye Caterpillar  that we noticed around Alice Springs a few months ago. These are mostly feeding on the Yipa vine (Boerhavia schombergkiana) and Tar Vine (Boerhavia coccinea). J. Kreusser.


The adult form of the Yeperenye Caterpillar (Hyles livornicoides) or the Australian Striped Hawk Moth has pretty pink underwings. This hawk moth is a common feature if your outside light is left on during the evening at the moment. It is a common moth on mainland Australia from Victoria to WA. J. Kreusser.



A perennial prostrate herb, Pin sida (Sida fibulifera) camouflages invertebrates such as grasshoppers, in its green foliage just prior to its showy yellow flowers. J. Kreusser.


Stunning yellow filaments and anthers contrast against the caps of the Red-bud Mallee (Eucalyptus pachyphylla). J. Kreusser.


Ghost bats (Macroderma gigas) photographed at the Alice Springs Desert Park, are extinct in the wild in Central Australia although still found in the top end. K. Mitchell.


Wolf spiders are classically found wandering the ground in search of food. Commonly spotted in torchlight by their shinning eyes. J. Kreusser.


Garden for Wildlife in Raggatt St shows their shady understorey of leaf litter, bark, logs and shrubs; creating plenty of shelter (habitat) for reptiles, birds and mammals. Remember, urban backyards are wildlife havens when they have a diversity of vegetation layers and species types. I. Sweeney.


Native birds respond to the removal of invasive Spotted Turtle-doves: 

"We’ve always had a lot of birds in our yard. We’ve got plenty of tall red gums and a good understory so it’s good habitat in the ‘burbs of Alice for them. We’ve also always had a fair feral dove population, but in the last five or so years it has steadily increased, and we’d started noticing less native crested pigeons in particular. I’ve always tried to catch a few of the feral doves over the years, but in the middle of 2015 I started to make a concerted effort to see if I could make a real dent in their population. My initial burst of enthusiasm caught over 50 doves in a two month period which appeared to knock over most of the population that was in our yard. Since then the population has declined steadily, and my catch dropped accordingly over the next few months. By the end of 2015 I calculated that I had removed over 80 feral doves in six months. I haven’t seen a dove in our yard since the start of the year, so I’ll be interested to see how long it takes for more birds to move in to this vacant territory! Now not only has the crested pigeon population increased but for the first time in ten years we’ve had peaceful doves regularly in the yard which is exciting". Paragraph by I. Sweeney.

Resources and articles:
 

Read: An ancient meteorite lands at Lake Eyre, read more about the discovery at ABC online

Read: A relationship between the decline of Aboriginal languages and decline in vertebrates at Living on Earth.

Look: Interested in rare or unusual bird sightings in NT? Check out Eremaea Birdlines.

Discover: Still out exploring for frogs?  You might be interested in the Frogs of Australia app or perhaps as a gift? Although this app requires an investment it has excellent features such as calls and is able to highlight which frogs might be found at your location. Highly regarded by our field staff.


 
Thanks for reading folks.

As always, we love to hear about stories and wildlife experiences from our members. Thank you for sharing as they help to inspire other members!

We also welcome feedback as it will help us to continue to create a program that is interesting and accessible for our members.

Happy Feb!
Cheers,

Jen, Tim and Bill
February, 2016
Copyright © 2016 Low Ecological Services, All rights reserved.


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