Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spring - The Perfect Season for Dove Control

The introduced Spotted Turtle Dove
A steady trickle of feral Spotted Turtle Dove trapping records continues to make its way to the Land for Wildlife office. It’s pleasing to see that the community is continuing to target this avian invader. Recent figures include 50 trapped for the year thus far from a Garden for Wildlife member in Eastside and 37 in the last three months in LfW coordinator Jesse’s backyard in Northside.

The bad news is that these high numbers show that the feral doves are continuing to make Alice Springs a stronghold, displacing native birds and causing a nuisance as they do so.

Building dove traps
Breeding season (now!) is a great time to target feral doves, so if you’re not involved in the trapping program and would like to be, contact Chris, Matt or Jesse at Land for Wildlife. And remember to send us your catch figures so we can update our data to!

If you're not thrilled about the idea of trapping birds, there are more passive methods to deter Spotted Turtle Doves from your backyard. If you have thick shrubbery and vegetation at your place, have a look around for any nesting doves. Turtle doves love to build their nests in dense, non-native vegetation such as palm fronds, rank Bouganvillea thickets and Pepper Trees. By removing such habitat and replacing it with native trees and shrubs, you can transform your garden from a haven for feral pests to a paradise for native birds and wildlife.
 Turtle Dove nest and egg. Photo; J.M. Garg

Alternatively, if you enjoy the shade your Pepper Tree provides in the hot weather, simply carryout regular 'nest inspections' in likely places. If you find a Turtle Dove nest (a very simple platform of sticks placed on a branch), remove it. Tip out any eggs that might've been laid. After several attempts and constant disturbance, the birds will soon get the message and move elsewhere. 

If you find any Turtle Dove nests or eggs, let us know. The information will help us build a picture of where the strongholds of this introduced species are in Alice Springs.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Survey 2012 - Biodiversity on Land for Wildlife Properties

Hi there Land for Wildlifers.

Well, it's been a while since our last post, with a busy field season taking up most of coordinators' time over the past few months. LfW has been recording a few milestones in Alice Springs however, with a third coordinator, Matt Digby, taken on to help ease the work load and some prominent properties, including Ayers Rock Resort and the Alice Springs Golf Club, signing up to the program.

Before the hot summer weather really hits us however, we have one outstanding project to get done - our annual LfW biodiversity survey. Every year, properties are selected from amongst our growing membership base for a detailed four day flora, fauna and landscape survey. This project involves trapping and observing wildlife on properties, recording flora species present in remnant vegetation and mapping of landscapes and land units. This data is then collated and presented in a report which is accessible to LfW and GfW members and anyone else who may be interested.

The information we collect is a valuable tool in determining if management practices carried out by property owners are effective in encouraging the diversity of wildlife and vegetation on rural properties in Alice Springs.

The 2012 survey is scheduled to take place at Fenn Gap west of Simpson's Gap on Larapinta Drive. This year, the survey is happening in cooperation with the Arid Lands Environment Centre's Biodiversity Matters program of workshops (

On Saturday 13th October, LfW coordinators together with ALEC will hold the final workshop in the Biodiversity Matters program, centred around surveying techniques and data collection, giving you the opportunity to be involved in important biological field work.

For more information or to get involved with this year's survey, contact Chris, Jesse or Matt at LfW on 89 555 222 or email If you'd like to know more about the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) and Biodiversity Matters go to and follow the links.

At left are some images of the 2010 and 2011 surveys. Pictured from top are Golden Everlasting daisies (Bracteantha bracteata), Red-chested Button Quail (Turnix pyrrhothorax), Silky Glycine (Glycine canescens), Euro (Macropus robustus) and the blossom of a Bush Orange (Capparis mitchellii).


Friday, May 25, 2012

Publishing Opportunity: A call for contributions from the Northern Territory Naturalist

A request has come down from the Top End for a greater contribution of natural history literature from Central Australia. While Alice Springs probably punches well above its weight in publication in a variety of journals, apparently we are not well represented in Northern Territory Naturalist. We thought we should put out the call to all naturalists, professional and otherwise, in the Land for Wildlife network.

The following email, received from Chief Editor Dr. Michael Braby, provides the details;

The Northern Territory Naturalist is a registered, peer-reviewed journal (ISSN 0155-4093) for original research and publishes works concerning any aspect of the natural history and ecology of the Northern Territory or adjacent areas of northern Australia (e.g. Kimberley, western Queensland, Timor). Authors may submit material in the form of Reviews, Research Articles, Short Notes, Species Profiles or Book Reviews.

Contributors include a range of field naturalists and scientists who are not necessarily members of the NT Field Naturalist Club. There are no page charges, and inclusion of colour figures is also free of charge. This year we are moving towards making all articles accessible (open access) as PDF’s on the Clubs web site.

The journal is sent to Thomson's Zoological Record for abstracting, and electronic versions are indexed and distributed through the Informit platform. The journal is also currently listed by the Australian Research Council as a Category C publication, and all papers will soon be included in Scopus, Elsevier's bibliographic database containing abstracts and cited references of over 19,000 scientific titles from more than 5,000 publishers. Hence, academics and other researchers receive official recognition for publishing with us.

The success of the journal in recent years is reflected by the number of high quality refereed papers published (46 in the past 5 years), which span a broad range of topics in natural history and ecology. Since 2007, the journal has been produced on an annual basis.
For more information regarding author instructions please see our home page:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Centralian Rainbow Spider?

Black House Spider Badumna insignis.
No not really. Local arachnid expert Robbie Henderson has been kind enough to identify this spider for us as the Black House Spider Badumna insignis. This is a common spider around Alice Springs.

It is a smallish spider which grows to a total legspan of about 3cms. I asked Robbie to identify this one for us due to its superficial similarity to a funnel-web spider. While the Black House Spider is venomous it is not considered dangerous, and is described as being generally timid and unlikely to bite.

They tend to stick to one little area and maintain a messy looking little web in a corner of a building or among rough tree bark. The entire spider is covered with hairs, and the rainbow colours visible on the lower half of the abdomen are just a trick of the light – the flash from the camera refracting through the hairs. In natural light the spider is a uniform dark grey or black.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Four-spotted Cup Moth

Larva of the Four-spotted Cup Moth Doratifera quadriguttata.
Land for Wildlife member Uwe Path has sent in another great photo from the ever-growing menagerie that can be found on his property. This caterpillar had us stumped initially but in the search for a positive identification, we found a very useful website.

The Coffs Harbour Butterfly House website has a resource for anyone trying to identify caterpillars, moths or butterflies. If you're ever trying to pin down the identity of a caterpillar in your yard try visiting

The database here is by no means exhaustive but provides a fair cross-section of the more common species that you might come across.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gardening may go to the very heart of what it means to be human.

The Radio National archives have served up the following morsel for all the gardeners out there. This interview with Robert Pogue Harrison on Late Night Live with Phillip Adams provides some interesting perspectives on gardens and gardening. The interview dates from 2009 and serves up some interesting food for thought.

Follow this link to download the entire interview.

Land for Wildlife Workshop: Rabbit Monitoring and Control - 10 am Saturday, 31st of March at Olive Pink Botanic Gardens

The infamous star of the show - Oryctolagus cuniculus. Pic. JJ Harrison
The 2012 series of Land for Wildlife workshops will commence on Saturday the 31st of March, with a workshop on rabbits and their control. The workshop will be held at Olive Pink Botanic Gardens in the meeting room beside the cafe. The information session will commence at 10am, and should run for about 20 minutes. The Land for Wildlife coordinators will be available after the information session for any questions relating to rabbits on your property.

Dr. Bill Low will be in attendance to provide an introduction to the history of rabbits and rabbit control measures in the NT.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Central Australian Bats with Dennis Matthews

Gould's Wattled Bat Chalinolobus gouldii. The prettiest of the bunch, and about the most widespread species in Australia.
Bats are one type of wildlife which we don't often get to have a close look at here in Alice Springs. They're certainly about and are actually quite common. This was conclusively shown by a recent workshop that we were able to hold at the Land for Wildlife offices. Renowned bat expert Dennis Matthews was in town and had just enough time to run an information session for members and interested locals.

Dennis Matthews explains the ingenious harp trap. The aluminium frame supports taut vertical filaments. The bats fly into these filaments and slide down to roost in the layers of canvas beneath.
After a very educational presentation indoors, Dennis led us into the garden to demonstrate some survey techniques. We had a look at some ANABAT recording devices in action and then a couple of harp traps were set up and left overnight to see what species we have fluttering around our office at night.

Lesser Long-eared Bat Nyctophilus geoffroyi.
In the morning we were rewarded with 9 bats from 4 different species. On the recorders the previous night we had identified a further two species in the area that we didn't manage to catch in the traps.
Inland Freetail Bat Mormopterus planiceps.

We mainly get insectivorous microbats here, with only occasional visits from the Little Red Flying Fox following particularly wet seasons in The Centre. Microbats mostly call well above the range of human hearing and can be difficult to track in a torch beam due to their fast flight and small size. So it was a genuine treat to get up so close and have a good look. Thanks Dennis!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Spectacled Hare-wallaby Roadkill in The Tanami...

Spectacled Hare-wallaby Lagorchestes conspicillatus. Just north of Rabbit Flats, Tanami Rd, NT. Photo: Dave Price.
Some bittersweet news this morning when I got into the office. Dave Price, photographer extraordinaire and regular contributor to our newsletters and blog posts, has sent in some more pics. Unfortunately, he and wife Bess found a roadkilled Spectacled Hare-wallaby Lagorchestes conspicillatus, just north of Rabbit Flats on the Tanami Road. Initially they thought it might have been a Mala Lagorchestes hirsutus, but these are sadly now almost certainly gone from the wild in this area. The Spectacled Hare-wallaby is still holding out though. This is a slightly larger animal which is easily identified by the prominent rufous "spectacles" for which it is named.

Interestingly, in 1997 a population of Spectacled Hare-wallabies was discovered in the south-west of Papua New Guinea, making it one of very few macropods that isn't endemic to Australia.

Spectacled Hare-wallaby. Photo: Dave Price.
It's always a shame to see wildlife killed on the road, but I guess it at least shows us that they're still out there and gives us a chance to see some of these more elusive animals close up. We'd love to hear from anyone else that has found an out-of-the-ordinary roadkill. If you do a bit of driving and find anything of interest drop us a line and let us know about your discovery.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ayers Rock Yulara Resort Gives Land for Wildlife the Thumbs Up!

Dunes; a haven for all sorts of wildlife in the western deserts.
Exciting news this week with management at Ayers Rock Yulara Resort giving the go ahead for full registration of the resort with Land for Wildlife. This is the culmination of many months of collaboration between LFW coordinators Jesse and Chris and Adrienne Horton, a representative from resort managers, Voyages.

Adrienne has several bold conservation initiatives planned, to increase biodiversity in the area surrounding the resort and preserve and protect the fragile dune ecosystem. We'll keep you posted as plans come to fruition!

A heartfelt congratulations to Adrienne, who has worked tirelessly to see the registration through, and whose passion for conservation has been the foundation of this exciting new partnership.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Scribblers of The Centre - Get Busy!

Got something on your mind? (Pic. innoxiuss Wikicommons.)
 If you've got something on your mind, we'd love to hear from you. Jesse and Chris are always looking for interesting wildlife stories and photographs for the newsletter, interstate newsletters, and this blog.

If you've got some pictures or tales to share and think they might be appropriate for distribution to the national Land for Wildlife network, drop us an email and tell us all about it.

Maybe you've seen an unusual animal interaction in your yard or perhaps you have some unidentified plants or animals. Whatever it is, pass it on and we can help to disperse it to a wider audience.

There are no deadlines, so just get those creative juices flowing and let us all see the results!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

LFW - Spreading the Word Further in 2012...

2012 is rapidly building pace, and Jesse and Chris are looking for new memberships everywhere, but there are two areas we are particularly interested in at the moment. We have received some funding recently from long-time supporter Territory Eco-link, to start helping landholders on indigenous and pastoral lands in central Australia.

These are two types of land tenure that often protect large and continuous tracts of remnant wildlife habitat. Many pastoral and indigenous landholders are natural land managers with a keen eye for conservation, making these lands highly suitable for membership with Land for Wildlife.

This is where the member network comes in. If you have any suggestions for potential member properties or contacts with landholders in these areas, we'd love to hear from you. The first part of this project is going to involve contacting potential new members and then traveling around to do the on-ground assessments. Any assistance from our existing members in locating suitable properties for this exciting new step for Land for Wildlife would be gratefully received.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mystery Skull Baffles the Land for Wildlife Office

Throughout the year, numerous Land for Wildlife members send us interesting photographs and specimens of plants and animals they find on their properties. Often they come with the question “What is it?”

Usually we’re able to answer that question, sometimes with a bit of research, conversations with colleagues at Low Ecological Services, or by forwarding the material to relevant people in the know. It’s not often that something has us completely baffled about its identity.

One regular contributor to our growing stockpile of photographs and specimens is Uwe Path, whose Pathdorf bed and breakfast property is nestled between the race course and Todd River. Since becoming a Land for Wildlife member, Uwe has come across some interesting finds on his property, particularly after the rains of the previous years and after carrying out weed control and buffel removal activities.

Just before Christmas, Uwe emailed these pictures of a skull found on his property.


Photos: Uwe Path

On first impressions, the skull above resembles that of a dog or fox, especially with those vicious looking canines. But when we viewed the photo with some scale (the 50c coin), the tiny size immediately ruled out that possibility.

We really were stumped with this one – Land for Wildlife and Low Ecological staff alike. Several suggestions were made including bats, a very young dog of small breed and several others. But it wasn’t until we had the skull in hand that its identity was made clearer.

When inspected in the hand, the skull showed characteristics of a small, carnivorous marsupial, or Dasyurid. Being a little large for a Dunnart, our best guesses were a Fat Tailed Antechinus, or perhaps even a Mulgara.

While we’re unable to conclusively ID this specimen, this example does show two things:

1.       Some idea of scale in a photograph is extremely important when using them for identification purposes, and
2.       having a specimen to view is much better than possessing only photographs.

Without the benefit of the scaled picture and the specimen, our initial ideas of a dog’s skull would have been clearly wrong.

If any of you can shed some additional light on the identity of Uwe’s find, don’t be afraid to send us an email or comment. Uwe would love to be able to conclusively add a new species to his property’s list!