Friday, October 28, 2011

Online Sign Up - Available Now!

A bit of tinkering with the blog this week has resulted in a big advance with our application process. You can now apply for registration with Land for Wildlife or Garden for Wildlife - online.

The forms are accessed by clicking on the appropriate link at the top of the links column on the right of the page. You can very quickly fill in all the information that we will need to process your application and get in touch to arrange an assessment; no printing, no emailing - just fill in the form and click the "submit" button.

What could be easier?!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spinifex Pigeons, Wolf Spiders, Rodents, Dasyurids, Macropods; a smorgasbord for wildlife lovers during annual biodiversity surveys

Poorly named? Caper Whites Belenois java, emerging from their chrysalis
Jesse and Chris have been conducting the annual biodiversity surveys lately on properties along Roe Creek. There is some stunning habitat through this area, and we have had a few interesting encounters.

Stripe-faced Dunnart Sminthopsis macroura. Cute and placid, but to the untrained eye, difficult to separate from some other small mammals. One of the most reliable techniques is to inspect the arrangement of pads on the soles of the feet...see below.
Stripe-faced Dunnarts Sminthopsis macroura, have been the most common mammals trapped but we have also had Long-haired Rats Rattus villosissimus, and the odd feral House Mouse Mus musculus. Apart from the small mammals, all of the properties also have healthy populations of Euro Macropus robustus, and at least two of the four properties surveyed also have colonies of the Black-footed Rock Wallaby Petrogale lateralis lateralis.

The sole of the hind foot of the Stripe-faced Dunnart. Markings and body measurements may change from individual to individual but the arrangement of the pads on the soles of the feet is consistent across the species.
Invertebrate life was booming across all the surveys sites, no doubt helped along by the onset of the warmer weather and a few light showers. We were lucky enough to witness a mass hatching of Caper Whites Belenois java. This is one of the more common butterflies in central Australia but it was exciting to see them all lining the stems and emerging to dry their wings at the same time. We found a few different species of wolf spider (family Lycosidae) in our pit traps but these are yet to be identified to species level. Several live specimens and a few empty shells of local land snail species were found. These are most likely all from the genus Sinumelon but may belong to two different species. Either way, it is always exciting to find land snails as so many of the species in central Australia are poorly known or undescribed.

A Centralian Land Snail - Sinumelon sp. Possibly bednalli or expositum.
The most unusual catch of the week was a lone Spinifex Pigeon Geophaps plumifera, that wandered in to make itself at home in one of our Elliott traps. This my not be a first for this largely terrestrial species but it was certainly a surprise for Jesse and Chris as they inspected the traps on the last morning.

A beautiful wolf spider of the family Lycosidae.
The skies were teeming with birdlife. Highlights included Wedge-tailed Eagles, Major Mitchell's Cockatoos, Sacred Kingfishers, Spinifex Pigeons, Dusky Grasswrens, and a Collared Sparrowhawk.

Spinifex Pigeon Geophaps plumifera. A surprising find in an Elliott trap.
These pictures are just a taster, but Jesse and Chris will complete the full report for these surveys over the next few weeks as they pick through all the results.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

LFW Alice Springs Wins NT Landcare Award

Sandhill Desert Fuschia Eremophila willsii.
Central Australia had outstanding representation at the NT Landcare awards held at Parliament House in Darwin last Friday evening.

Local Landcare hero Tim Collins was recognised for the tireless work he has put in over the years with the NT Landcarer of the Year award. This is a richly deserved gong for all of the time and effort Tim has committed to Alice Springs Landcare, but he was quick to redirect the limelight from himself to the organisation he has spent so many years building up and serving. We don't care what you say Tim, the award is all yours and well-earned - congratulations.

 The Centralian Land Management Association was also recognised with a highly commended award which was accepted by Glenis McBurnie for soil conservation activities and the many other ongoing projects that CLMA conducts throughout The Centre.

..and of course Land for Wildlife brought home our own piece of recognition; we won the Toshiba Community Group category. Jesse, Chris & Bill were all on hand to receive the award, but we think the award is rightly seen as recognition of the conservation efforts of all the members of the Land for Wildlife and Garden for Wildlife programs across central Australia.  The scheme has expanded its membership again this year, and our members' properties now cover 16,404 hectares of central Australia from Tennant Creek in the north to the Alice Springs Correctional Centre in the south. We are currently in talks with a few large commercial properties that will add to the program considerably, and we have just received funding to extend Land for Wildlife into areas remote from Alice Springs.

So congratulations to all our members! Land for Wildlife is much more than just the sum of its parts, but every individual member is a crucial part of the success of the scheme as a whole.