Category Archives: Fauna

Summer Gecko 2020

Welcome to the 2020 Summer issue of the Gecko Newsletter. In this issue read about:

• 2020: Bushcare Team Leader • Bushcare / Landcare Picnic COVID style • Bushcare Awards – Group and Individuals • Vale Lachlan Garland • Remote Bushcare • Cicadas • RSCPA Landcare • Vale Liz Kabanoff • Popes Glen Bushcare Group – Local Heros • Vale Thelma Murphy – Bushcare Icon • Swamped by Threats Project reaches halfway mark • Redgum Park – Timing is everything • What’s On!

Click here to open the latest Gecko

https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/documents/gecko-newsletter-summer-2020

RSPCA Landcare supports RSPCA wildlife recovery centre

Background

RSPCA Landcare Group has been working for over 11 years to restore Woodland and EPBC Listed Swamp on the 4.4 ha RSPCA site in Mort Street North Katoomba. This bushland site contributes to a continuous bushland corridor along Katoomba Creek into the Grose Valley.

The buildings, pounds and exercise yards are at the top of the slope near Mort Street, below which is a fence separating the woodland where the Landcare group primarily works. Below the woodland a Blue Mountains Swamps runs down to Katoomba Creek.

Bushland view
Weed Plume being treated 2009 Credit: Lyndal Sullivan

RSPCA Landcare has removed a large weed plume of blackberry, cotoneaster, cherry laurel, broom and holly). We are now working on scattered weeds as well as pushing back an edge of holly.

Woman treating holly
Remaining Holly being treated in 2020 Credit: BMCC

We welcome more members to join us and enjoy this lovely bushland. Swamp wallabies regularly graze in the Swamp. The Landcare site contains diverse bushland showcasing the spectacular colour of native wildflowers in Spring 2020.

Wildlife Recovery Centre

We support a proposal for a wildlife recovery centre here in the Blue Mountains.

Our work has successfully restored the swamp and woodland on the RSPCA site for local native wildlife, which is now an excellent location for the rehabilitation of injured animals.

The RSPCA has announced that it has received provisional approval from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for a wildlife rehabilitation license for a dual occupancy site that will allow us to care for companion animals as well as wildlife. (RSPCA Media Unit 9/10/2020)

This proposal has raised 3 issues:

  1. Is it needed?
  2. Will the domestic Animal Shelter continue?
  3. Can wildlife and domestic animals be cared for on this same site without further stress?
  1. Need

    The 2019/2020 bushfires saw many injured wildlife sent to Taronga Zoo for care by specialist staff. For months, dedicated volunteers collected huge amounts of leaves locally and delivered them to the zoo for koalas.

    This highlighted the need for a permanent wildlife care and rehabilitation facility closer to where our native animals live, and without the transport problems of a central Sydney location. This centre will not replace the need for WIRES carers to continue their invaluable work, but work alongside and complement that important service.
  2. Continuation of Katoomba Shelter for Companion Animals

    There is considerable concern in the community that this is an attempt by the RSPCA to close the shelter, as it attempted to do in 2014.  As some of our members were involved in the successful community action to stop this closure, we believe this is a justifiable concern. We recognise that having a local shelter for cats and dogs reduces the likelihood of their being dumped in the bush and preying on native species.

    RSPCA NSW appears to have given contradictory information to the Blue Mountains Branch, the Landcare group and Gazette about the continuation of the shelter for dogs.

    In a report to the branch on August 1 2020, Rita Perkins (Senior Operations manager, RSPCA NSW) stated that if successful in obtaining the licence, then the site will not be able to look after dogs. Maybe there has been a change of plan?  If so, it just needs to be acknowledged.

    RSPCA NSW’s Wildlife Manager Nick de Vos stated (29/9/2020) that the RSPCA intends to continue to provide essential services to stray, lost, injured, neglected and at-risk animals and pet owners in the Blue Mountains community.

    The RSPCA Media Unit issued the following statement on 9/10/2020 We announced earlier this year that, as part of our commitment to the people and animals of New South Wales, we are exploring establishing a facility that can manage both companion animals and wildlife at our Blue Mountains site.

    We are pleased to announce that we have received provisional approval from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for a wildlife rehabilitation license, which means we are one step closer to making the project happen! The proposal submitted is for a dual occupancy site that will allow us to care for companion animals as well as wildlife. We still have a long way to go with this journey, but this approval means that the government has granted us permission to proceed with the design and development of the facility.

    We are in the process of submitting a proposal to Blue Mountains City Council to continue to provide impound animal management services for the region on behalf of Council. Next, we will be submitting a Development Application to Blue Mountains City Council for the development of the dual occupancy site. The site has the size, space and potential to successfully manage both companion animals and wildlife. The design of the proposed infrastructure and enclosures are being carefully considered with this objective in mind. Has there been a change of plan?

3. Stress free care for both domestic and native animals?

  • How can the traditional role of the shelter continue alongside this proposed wildlife rehabilitation area?  How can each companion animal and native animal be cared for in a safe, stress-free environment?
  • The size and shape of the site could allow for separation of functions. The cats that come into RSPCA are now housed in a custom-built indoor cattery and dogs are housed in concrete kennels. We understand that the use of indoor facilities for dogs is being researched and considered. Indoor shelters for dogs are common in many cold European countries for climatic reasons.
  • The current Taronga Zoo situation has very limited space and a wide range of animals in close proximity. Whilst more details are required, the Landcare group supports the Wildlife Recovery Centre in principle as a way to enable more wildlife to be rehabilitated closer to their natural habitats.

Native wildlife populations have been and continue to be greatly impacted by natural disasters and habitat loss, we therefore believe it is important to explore opportunities like this to invest in their care and recovery.

Lyndal Sullivan on behalf of RSPCA Landcare Group 

Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains – Zoom talk

Sunday 29 November, 2020 4:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sunday 29 November – Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains – 4pm via zoom

Peter & Judy Smith  (Blue Mountains Gazette)

Blue Mountains Conservation Society are pleased to host local ecologists, Judy and Peter Smith, talking about the native fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains on the very day the World Heritage listing for the area was decided back in 2000.

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is home to a remarkably diverse native terrestrial vertebrate fauna (currently 434 species) of international significance.

The World Heritage listing recognises the region’s globally significant natural values including its biodiversity.

Judy and Peter will talk about the fauna of the GBMWHA as it stood at the time of publication of their book (October 2019) and then look briefly at what has happened to the fauna since.

Join us as we mark this important anniversary!

When:  4pm Sunday 29 November (one hour)

Register here:  gos@bluemountains.org.au – You will receive a ZOOM Link before the day.

In this time of COVID the Society will hold a number of online talks.

FrogID Week: Friday 6 – Sunday 15 November, 2020

FrogID Week starts Friday 6th November! To find out more and download the app click here https://www.frogid.net.au/frog-id-week

FrogID Week is Australia’s Biggest Frog Count, held annually for Australians to help record frog calls through the free FrogID app, as a measurement of frog health and distribution around the nation. It aims to monitor frog distributions over time, helping us to understand how frogs and their ecosystems are responding to a changing planet.

FrogID Week starts next week and we need the entire FrogID community to get involved! Every recording contributes to our annual ‘audioshot’ of Australian frogs, and helps us measure the health of our frogs and environment.

This year, we have a competition for the FrogID user who submits the highest submissions of verified frogs during FrogID Week. The ‘Top Frogger’ will win a Bunnings gift card valued at $500, as well as a video conference opportunity with FrogID Lead Scientist, Dr Jodi Rowley! Please familiarise yourself with the Terms & Conditions of our Top Frogger competition here

FrogID Week 2020 banner

Image: Southern Barred Frog (Mixophyes balbus) by Jodi Rowley.

Thanks to your FrogID submissions from all across Australia, the FrogID team have produced seven scientific papers so far. This month, FrogID research revealed that Australian frogs indeed have accents, and their accents change across the country, and even over time. We also used FrogID data to take a closer look at just how much frogs restrict their calling to night-time, and found that most Australian frogs actually call during the day, some at surprisingly high rates!

All the research produced by the FrogID project is a reminder of how your records are providing information about frogs on scales never before possible. Last month, we revealed how your FrogID records are providing an early understanding of frogs persisting after the Black Summer bushfires, but this picture is not yet complete. Your continued use of FrogID is very important this year, more than ever.

Whether you’re at a nearby creek, pond, nature reserve, or your own backyard – every recording of a frog call contributes to our research. So far, FrogID has identified more than 250,000 frog calls and identified 199 of the known 242 Australian frog species. During FrogID Week last year, over 5,000 frog records from 71 species were counted! The best way to stay up to date with this year’s FrogID Week information, stats, and exciting discoveries, is by following us on social media.

If you’re planning any FrogID Week activities in your community and would like help seeking local media opportunities, let us know by emailing calls@frogid.net.au

With La Niña underway and the likelihood of above average rainfall across much of Australia, we hope more frogs will be breeding and calling this year. Head outside each day of FrogID Week and help us find calling frogs – together, we can build our understanding and better protect our frog species.

Safe frogging, everyone!

Fox Trapping Workshops – 8 and 9 November

Foxes are a known predator for both native wildlife and livestock and can cause major damage in our local area. Greater Sydney Local Land Services has engaged professional trapper Mark Lamb to demonstrate best practice methods in the identification and trapping of foxes.

Blue Mountains landholders in target areas can attend one of the following sessions:

Session 1
Date: Sunday 8 November, 2020
Time: 9.30 am – 3 pm
Location: Katoomba Christian Convention Centre, 119 Cliff Drive, Katoomba

OR

Session 2
Date: Monday 9 November, 2020
Time: 9.30 am – 3 pm
Location: Katoomba Christian Convention Centre, 119 Cliff Drive, Katoomba

Workshop topics covered will include:
– Trapping foxes using soft-jaw and cage traps
– Control tools
– Equipment preparation
– Identifying signs
– Trap site selection
– Trap setting
– Use of decoys/lures
– Inspecting/running your traps and humane disposal
– Using wildlife cameras

THIS EVENT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN AND PEOPLE WHO ARE UNABLE TO WALK OUTDOORS ON UNEVEN SURFACES.

The workshops will be held at the Katoomba Christian Convention Centre. There is a strict limit on attendees due to the COVID-19 situation. Priority will be given to trap recipients. A waiting list will also be collected and used to fill places where registered people are unable to attend due to last minute circumstances.

Please choose a day and register using this form

Sunday 8 November, 9.30 – 3 pm

Monday 9 November, 9.30 – 3 pm

Katoomba Christian Convention Centre  

Post-Fire Koala Community Survey

“Should we save our Koalas”

Please take this 5-10 minute community survey.

Koalas were massively impacted by fire in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Help Science for Wildlife understand the issues that are important to you, in regard to conserving koalas and their habitats.

Take the Post-Fire Koala Community Survey

With the protected area network so badly impacted, the unburnt habitat that remains in and around residential and rural areas is more important than ever to our surviving wildlife, including koalas.  

However, conserving koalas in developed areas is complex. There are always competing interests when humans and wildlife occupy the same land. The first important step in protecting koalas in these developed areas is understanding any barriers to effective conservation, and working with communities to find solutions that respect the different values that people hold. That’s where your participation is critical for conservation, everyone can help by taking this brief post-fire koala community survey and sharing it with your friends.

Your time and honesty are greatly appreciated.

We are asking as many people as possible to take this survey, so please share and forward to your friends and networks. 

Yours Sincerely,  The Science for Wildlife Team www.scienceforwildlife.org


Protecting our forests for the future

Blue Mountains City Council Media Release 08 October 2020

Efforts to protect and conserve several rare and endangered forest areas in the Blue Mountains will be amplified, after Council was awarded a $350,000 grant by the NSW Environmental Trust.

Over the next four years the funds will be used for the Forests for the Future project, which seeks to restore and protect unique environments in a number of Council managed reserves between Glenbrook and Springwood. 

Working in partnership with the NSW Save our Species program and Hawkesbury River County Council, the project will help conserve the critically endangered Sun Valley Cabbage Gum Forests and endangered Blue Mountains Shale Cap Forests across their entire range. Iconic threatened species which inhabit these forests, such as the Powerful Owl, the Tiger Quoll and the Koala, are also expected to benefit from the restoration works.

Eric Mahony, Council’s Natural Area Management Program Leader, with Councillor Mick Fell and Mayor Mark Greenhill at Deanei Reserve, Springwood. Photo Credit: Council

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said: “The Forests for the Future project is part of our ongoing commitment to best practice environmental management.

“As a City within a World Heritage Area, it’s our job to protect our local environment, especially those areas which have rare or endangered species. Some of our environment is unique to the Mountains, and that needs to be conserved,” he said. 

The works – that are able to get underway – include weed control, bush regeneration, stormwater mitigation, fencing and track rationalisation at Deanei, Else Mitchell and Patterson Reserves in Springwood, Sun Valley Reserve in Sun Valley, Blaxland War Memorial Park and Wascoe Park in Glenbrook.

Works will also include vegetation mapping, as well as education for schools, land owners and the community.

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Greater Blue Mountains region being granted World Heritage status by the United Nations. To find out more about Council’s work to conserve our local environment, visit the Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity webpage at www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/protecting-and-restoring-biodiversity

https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/media-centre/protecting-our-forests-for-future

Post-fire Koala Surveys, Blue Mountains Region 2nd Volunteer Call Out

Come and join our Post-fire Koala Surveys and help us learn where koalas have survived the fires in the Blue Mountains region.

We’ve opened up some more places for volunteers on our first round of scat surveys, so there is still an opportunity to sign up!

The data we collect will provide vital information for planning conservation action and koala population recovery. We need to know where the koalas are, so we can allocate resources to protect them.

Register HERE to volunteer for post-fire Koala surveys

Site 1: Hawkesbury/SE Wollemi National Park

Week 1: Tue 6th – Fri 9th Oct 2020 – complete
Week 2:  Wed 14th – Fri 16th Oct 2020.
Week 3:  Tue 20th – Fri 23rd Oct 2020.
Week 4:  Wed 28th – Fri 30rd Oct 2020.
Week 5:  Tue 3rd – Fri 6th Nov 2020.
Week 6:  Tue 10th – Fri 13th Nov 2020.

Some information about the surveys..

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is 1 million hectares in size, and 80% of it was impacted by fire. Within this region we had identified 5 koala study sites where koalas were known to occur: we are heartbroken that four of those sites have had 75% or more of koala habitats impacted by fire. That’s why we need your help. Mapping where koalas still occur across the mountains after the fires is a critical first step in helping us to understand how the fire impacted their populations. One koala can use anything from 5ha to 300ha of land each year, and they also use trees that are over 45m tall in some areas so they can be extremely hard to see. That’s where scat surveys come in.

Scat surveys are a great way to discover what different species have been up to when no-one was around to observe them. They are particularly effective for finding animals that are only in low densities after the fires. This project involves carrying out koala scat surveys across a range of different burn intensities and habitats, to find out where koalas survived. You’ll also encounter scats from other species along the way and learn about scat identification techniques. You can also pick up some basic eucalypt identification skills as we will identify the tree species that we find koala scats under. Come and learn the art of scatology!

You don’t need to sign up for the whole week – when you register to volunteer it will give you the option to select the days you’re available. However, it takes a while to get your eye in for scat counts, so we’d like all participants to commit to helping for a minimum of 2 days over the whole survey period (they don’t necessarily have to be within the same week). Beyond that, you can come out as often as you’d like! Our schedule will depend on weather, fire risk ratings, and land access, but we will endeavor to go out on the dates listed below.

The data we collect will provide vital information for planning conservation action and koala population recovery. We need to know where the koalas are, so we can allocate resources to protect them. We are also undertaking ecological studies of koalas at some sites, including tracking them to work out where they move and how they use the landscape after fire. This information is then shared with land managers so that we can work together towards koala population recovery. We can’t promise that you’ll see a koala, but you’ll be making a big contribution as the scat surveys will help us to map where koalas have survived after the fires. Seeing the impact of the fires on this beautiful area can be difficult to take, especially in the badly burnt areas, so please consider this when choosing to volunteer. 

Register HERE to volunteer for post-fire Koala surveys

Location and getting there:

Scat surveys will be undertaken in South East Wollemi National Park around Bilpin, Colo Heights and north off Putty Rd, and also on public land in the developed areas around Kurrajong, Grose Vale and Upper Colo. You’ll need your own transport as there is no public transport to the survey sites. All survey sites will be accessible by 2WD vehicle, otherwise we will ferry you in our 4WD from a nearby point.

Once you have selected tickets to register below, you will receive more details on the exact area you’ll be surveying with us, and where to meet, etc. 

What is involved:

First thing in the morning you’ll be given a brief overview of the Blue Mountains Koala Project, then a safety briefing, and then you’ll have a quick practice spotting some koala scats on the ground. Depending on how long the walk to each survey site is, we plan to complete around 4 scat searches per day, possibly more. 

Each scat search will be done inside a quadrat that we will measure out when we get there, using removable flagging tape. Then we will all search the leaf-litter, and see what we can find! We’ll also check what tree species are around, to confirm that the vegetation type on the map matches what is actually on the ground (this is called ground-truthing). Then we will check to see if the burn intensity matches the satellite fire mapping. When we find a koala scat, we will first have an excited celebration, then we mark a GPS point and identify the nearest tree species. In some places koala scats might be rare, but you’ll hopefully find scats from wallabies, wombats, and other native critters. We hope to find lots of signs of life out there.

Requirements:

The survey locations can be remote so you must be competent in bushwalking off-track, i.e. through sometimes thick understorey vegetation, and up and down forested slopes. Some sites will be on ridgelines, others in valleys and along creek lines. A reasonable level of fitness is required as sometimes the slopes are steep. A team leader will take you to each site using a GPS so you don’t need bush navigation skills – unless you’d like to have a try while you’re with us.

FAQs

Are there a minimum age requirement to enter the event?

The surveys involve long days in the field, plus a lot of walking. For that reason the event is not suitable for children. You can use your judgement for older children (over 15) if they have been on long bushwalks with you and enjoy a full day in the bush, but please note that if we are surveying a remote site then it would be difficult to return to the vehicles sooner than planned except in cases of emergency.

What should I bring into the event?

There are no shops nearby so you’ll need to bring a day-pack and carry your own water (a guide is at least 2L per person per day), lunch and snacks, plus sunblock and insect repellent. A personal First Aid kit is also a good idea, your team leader will also have a First Aid kit. Wear hiking boots with ankle support, and long trousers (bring gaiters if you have them), plus a long-sleeved shirt and hat. The bush can be spikey so leggings are not advisable. Gloves are optional but can be handy (pun intended), particularly if you don’t want to directly handle the scats. The weather in the mountains is changeable so bring a waterproof jacket and appropriate layers to stay warm. Please check the weather forecast before you leave. There are no toilets nearby so be prepared to make a bush toilet stop if needed (dig a hole and bury your waste, at least 100m from any waterway).

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Send an email to info@scienceforwildlife.org and include the Post-fire Koala Surveys in the subject line. During the event and during other fieldwork over the next few months we will be out of mobile phone coverage so email is the most reliable method of contacting us. You can also send a text to Victoria, on 0421 778 845 but please note that it will not be received until the end of each day, or possibly the next day. Please note that once you’ve registered via the ticketing process we’ll be sending you some more information by email, including where and when to meet each day.

Project Partners Science for Wildlife is working in partnership with our core supporters San Diego Zoo Global, and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), who are providing support for us to understand post-fire koala distribution in the Blue Mountains region under the NSW Koala Strategy.

Other interesting videos and articles about Koalas..

Watch our Koala Rescue During the Fires https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QliwpX8crg

National Geographic Article – After the Fires https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/07/australia-marsupials-struggling-after-fires/

Purple Copper Butterfly – Saving Our Species

Saving our Species are asking land managers to report any sightings of this rare species from private property.

One of Australia’s rarest butterfly species, the Purple Copper Butterfly, is only found in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales. Its habitat is restricted to elevations above 900 metres.

The purple copper butterfly feeds only on a subspecies of blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa subspecies lasiophylla). It relies on a ‘mutualistic’ relationship with the ant Anonychomyrma itinerans, and the presence of blackthorn.

Community involvement is one of the key priorities in the purple copper butterfly conservation effort. Land managers of the butterfly’s habitat are being asked to help protect the butterfly through the upkeep of Bursaria often found in open eucalypt woodland on private property.

Saving our Species are also asking land managers to report any sightings of this species from private property. Reporting sightings will help to fill significant information gaps in the areas of population dynamics, habitat requirements, fire ecology and the nature of the relationship with the attendant ant. Learning more about this threatened species will help inform its recovery effort.

The purple copper butterfly is a small butterfly with a wingspan of about 2 centimetres. It can be identified by its collage of colours – bronze, green, blue, deep brown and of course purple undertones.

Butterflies are not only a beautiful insect but play several roles in the environment. They act as a pollinator; as a food source for other species; and are an important indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

To contact Saving our Species with any information or queries about the purple copper butterfly, please email savingourspecies@environment.nsw.gov.au.

Saving Our Species www.environment.nsw.gov.au/news/purple-copper-butterfly

To find out more visit Purple copper butterfly.

Celebrating 20th Anniversary World Heritage Blue Mountains

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Greater Blue Mountains region being granted World Heritage status by the United Nations. 

Blue Mountains City Council will mark this important milestone by celebrating the unique privilege of managing a City within a World Heritage Area.

From July to December 2020, Council will showcase how we help preserve an area of such special significance, including recognition of Traditional Ownership, protection of the environment and threatened species, water resource management and strategic planning.

Read more…..https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/WHA

AUGUST focuses on “Our Water Sensitive City”

Blue Mountains waterways are some of the most beautiful, iconic and highly valued in Australia. They sustain a unique diversity of animals and plants, hold great cultural significance to Traditional Owners, and provide huge opportunities for recreation and eco-tourism.

Our waterways also supply drinking water to over five million people, including residents of the Blue Mountains local government area.

Read more..https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/WHA/Water

SEPTEMBER will promote “Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity”

View information on Bushcare, Threatened Species and Weed Management. More information to come…..

Bushcare volunteers weeding at Carrington Park, Katoomba above the Great Blue Mountains World Heritage area Photo: Council