Welcome to the Wildside

Fenner School of Environment and Society
December 2016 - Issue 20
Welcome to the
Greetings from the Editor (Mason Crane)
Inside this issue:
Box-Gum Study birds and
Critter file: Grey-headed
New Fieldies join the team
A message from the Murray 4
G’day all and welcome to
the twentieth issue of
‘Welcome to the Wildside’.
This newsletter is produced by David Lindenmayer’s research team
at the Fenner School of
Environment and Society,
The Australian National
University. It is our aim to
ensure that all of our research partners, such as
yourselves, are up to date
with our work.
An epic field season is now
over, with the team out
surveying birds and reptiles
almost every day of the last
six months. The wet
winter caused considerable access issues, which
saw the SWS slopes and
Box-Gum Stewardship
bird surveys strung out
over any extended period.
The wet conditions
though, made it ideal for
finding blindsnakes, as
they come closer to the
surface and become more
blindsnake species were
recorded in both studies.
light surveys were completed for the Adjungbilly
creek study, which turned
up some more Booroolong
frogs and an antechinus
(marsupial mouse).
Along with field work the
team has be busy communicating results through
numerous field days.
Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year to all.
A new round of bird,
reptile and frog, and spot-
Dan talking reptiles at LLS training day at Coleambally
SW Slopes Reptiles (Mason Crane)
Special points of
 Interesting finds in
the Box-Gum stewardship study
 Grey-headed Flyingfoxes continue to
pop up around the
SW slpoes
 Meet our new field
staff based in
Gundagai and Cowra.
Through August and September we
completed around 200 reptile surveys
on and near farms from Howlong to
Junee. Every year there are new
surprises, interesting records and also
findings that reaffirm our current thinking.
This year it was great to find our first
woodland blindsnakes in the study, one
using a treeplanting near Tarcutta and
another in a remnant near Walla Walla.
It was also a big year for geckos and
Dwyer’s snakes. We also continue to
Lace monitor on a travelling stock reserve near
find pink-tail worm-lizards at a treeplanting site near Howlong.
Our Travelling Stock Reserves sites
also proved to be good hunting
grounds for lace monitors, again
showing the importance of these sites
for critters that rely on large oldgrowth
Page 2
Welcome to the Wildside
December 2016 - Issue 20
Box-Gum Stewardship study birds and reptiles( Mason Crane)
In contrast to our last lot of surveys during the very
-lizards. It will be interesting to see with further
dry Autumn, an extremely wet winter posed some real
analyses how these sites are performing compared
access issues for us. However, our persistence paid off
to the business as usual sites.
with a number of interesting finds across the study.
Scarlet honeyeaters turned up at Gunning and Cassilis,
we had a further range extension of the Carpentaria
My highlight was a tiger snake near
snake at Yetman and recorded three-pronged
blindsnake for the first time for the study near
Above: Threepronged blindsnake,
differentiated by
distinct lobes eitherside of the nose.
Left: Tiger snake
We continue to find many threatened and rare species
in the stewardship sites such as pink-tailed
Critter File: Grey-headed Flying-fox (Clare Crane)
Over the last few years we have
considered vulnerable to extinc-
fur and are then left in maternal
started to pick up Grey-headed
tion. They more commonly occur
camps whilst the mother feeds at
Flying-foxes (GHFF) in our
along the east coast of Australia,
night, up to 20 km away. On her
spotlight survey in the SW slopes.
but seem to be increasingly com-
return she nurses the pup for about
These bats are different to the
mon west of the divide, often
12 weeks until it is independent and
Little Red Flying-fox (LRFF) we
making use of urban areas for
able to forage for itself.
usually see, both in size and col-
food and shelter
our. In fact GHFF is one of the
largest megabats in the world
with a wingspan up to 1 metre.
As the name suggests, GHFF has
a grey head and belly with an orange/brown neck ring, compared
to the smaller LRFF which can
also have a grey head but its body
fur and wings have a distinctly
reddish/brown tinge.
Flying foxes feed on
nectar, pollen and fruits,
and are important native
seed dispersers and plant
pollinators as they travel
between sites. Each year in
females usually give birth
to a single pup which is
carried on her belly as she
GHFF are protected nationally
flies. At 4-5 weeks old the
and in NSW as they are
pups have grown all their
Below: a new Grey-head Flying-fox camp in Gundagai
Welcome to the Wildside
December 2016 - Issue 20
Page 3
New Fieldies join the crew in Gundagai and Cowra (Mason Crane)
Sadly after 7 years Sachiko Okada has left the
job are his increased exposure to the weird and wonder-
team to take a position in Tokyo, moving back to
ful happenings of nature and being able to learn from
the home land. To fill the huge void we have em-
his colleagues and the landholders he works alongside.
ployed two new field ecologists, David Smith and
Clare Crane (no relation) to be based in Gundagai
Clare Crane
and Cowra. These guys will be a great asset to the
team bringing new skills and experience, with
loads of enthusiasm.
Dave Smith
the team as a
ficer in 2016;
Cowra in Central
NSW to concentrate
efforts on the Environmental Stewardship Program and Grazing Study. He has a keen interest in
birds and their ecology which lead him to undertake a Graduate Diploma of Ornithology through
Charles Sturt University after completing his undergraduate degree in Environmental Management and Science.
Clare is from a UK farming family and has worked in
various sectors on natural resource management and
ecology for over 17 years. She first came to Australia in
2005 where she volunteered with Parks Victoria for a
year. During this time she worked on monitoring projects across the Parks Victoria estate targeting feral animals, threatened and weed species. She also volunteered
on projects with the Australasian Bat Society and Australian Platypus Conservancy. In 2008 Clare returned to
Throughout his studies, Dave honed his field
work in Australia as a consultant zoologist surveying
skills by volunteering with several conservation
fauna in Victoria, NSW, central Queensland and South
projects all around Australia, but particularly in
the arid interior. He is currently completing his
Clare recently joined the team as a research officer to
honours degree; his research focusing on deter-
assist with field monitoring of bird, reptile, mammal
mining the effectiveness of sound recorders for
species and vegetation assessments for long-term re-
surveying birds. Dave’s favourite aspects of the
search projects across south-eastern Australia.
A message from the Murray (Thea O’Loughlin)
Like many of the other studies in 2016, the Murray
Toad (b) under moni-
Biodiversity Monitoring Program was hamstrung by
toring substrates. The
wet weather. Eventually, and with some serious
toad was found hop-
efforts in gumboots, all but two sites were surveyed
ping about under tin
for reptiles. A Hooded Scalyfoot (a) was recorded
near Urana Lake
by Sachiko under a tile near Moulamein, a rare rec-
Page 4
ord for the study as this cryptic species is not
In the Victorian sites, spotlighting was also under-
usually found during our
taken. During the nocturnal surveys it was reassur-
daytime surveys. Good
ing to record many of the ‘usual customers’. Sites
numbers of frogs were
near Barnawartha proved to be the busiest with
found due to the wet
Tawny Frogmouth, Ringtail Possum, Brushtail
conditions, and the team
had their first record of
a Common Spadefoot
Planned field surveys for the
next 6months
February– March -Vegetation surveys Grazing
February - April - Setting up new connectivity
June—SW slopes and Nanangroe Study spotlighting
Possum (with bub), Eastern Grey Kangaroos and a
Wombat all recorded within the space of an hour!
Further Information
For any further information or general inquiries,
please phone us or drop us an email.
Mason Crane
Phone: 0427770594
E-mail: mason.crane@anu.edu.au
Damian Michael
Phone: 0427770595
E-mail: damian.michael@anu.edu.au
Daniel Florance
Phone: 0400682789
E-mail: daniel.florance@anu.edu.au
Thanks to
Murray Local Land Services
Riverina Local Land Services
The Australian Government’s
Environmental Stewardship Program
Clare Crane
Phone: 0417451834
E-mail: clare.crane@anu.edu.au
Thea O’Loughlin
Phone: 0427777602
E-mail: thea.oloughlin@anu.edu.au
Dave Smith
Phone: 0428094316
E-mail: david.1.smith@anu.edu.au