|Dung Down Under: dung beetles for Australia. Bernard Doube and Tim Marshall, 2014. Dung Beetle Solutions Australia, www.dungbeetlesolutions.com.au|
"This essential reference provides a detailed insight into the world of the dung beetle", Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery.|
The introduction of domestic stock to Australia created a huge dung pollution problem because native dung beetles were unable to dispose of it. Introduced dung beetles from Europe and Southern Africa have partially solved this problem but there is much more to be done. Dung Down Under: dung beetles for Australia is the first farmer-friendly book on the ecology and management of dung beetles in Australia, possibly the world. It is an essential reference for farmers, Landcare groups and environmental organisations concerned with sustainable land management. The book examines the ecological, environmental and production benefits of dung beetles, and provides a non-technical analysis of their value and potential role in increasing soil carbon storage.
This book is for loan from the centre.
|The Nestbox Book: enjoy the wonder of nesting. Compiled by Gould Group, 2008. Wilkinson Publishing Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Vic.|
Although nestboxes cannot replace the millions of tree hollows that have been lost, they can greatly benefit wildlife in areas of human habitation, where hollows are extremely rare.
Nestboxes can provide an opportunity for native birds and mammals to breed that they wouldn't have otherwise.
This practical and informative book guides you through the process of selecting, constructing, installing and maintaining a selection of nestboxes for a variety of native Australian birds and mammals.
This book is available for loan from the centre.
|Native Mice and Rats, Bill Breed and Fred Ford. CSIRO Publishing, 2007, Collingwood Vic. Australian Natural History Series|
Australia's native rodents are the most ecologically diverse family of Australian mammals. There are about 60 living species - all within the subfamily Murinae - representing around 25 per cent of all species of Australian mammals.
Native Mice and Rats describes the evolution and ecology of this much-neglected group of animals. It details the diversity of their reproductive biology, their dietary adaptations and social behaviour.
The book also includes information on rodent parasites and diseases, and concludes by outlining the changes in distribution of the various species since the arrival of Europeans as well as current conservation programs.
This book is available for loan from the centre.
|The New Organic Gardener: the essential reference for Australian gardeners, Tim Marshall, Principal photographer Dan Schultz. ABC Books abcbooks.com.au|
|Organic gardening is much more than simply throwing a bit of mulch onto your garden beds. A true organic gardener adopts a holistic approach, starting with the most precious organic element of all: the soil.
Tim Marshall's passion and love of gardening is present on every page of this book. He not only guides you through the principles of organic gardening, he explains the reasons behind these principles and why they work. Successful organic gardening, Tim fervently argues, is not just a matter of blindly following a set of rules, it is about experimenting, being creative and making discoveries about how plants best thrive and flourish in your unique garden.
"Without question, this is the great informative book organic gardeners everywhere have been waiting for. It contains everything anyone wishes to know about how to grow things without the use of poisons or disruptive chemical fertilisers." Peter Cundall|
This book is available for loan from the centre.
|From Seeds to Leaves: a complete guide to growing Australian shrubs and trees from seed. Doug & Robin Stewart, 2008. Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd, Melbourne.|
If you have an interest in the power of seeds to transform the earth, or in planting Australian native trees and shrubs on a small scale or large, From Seeds to Leaves is the book for you. It describes how to:
As well, there are sections on botanical names and identifying plants by flower and seed, and an ABC of information about Australian species. Procedures are set out in easy table form and there are lists of plants for a variety of special purposes. This book is a must-have for anyone who is keen to preserve our native environment - Jamie Durie
This book is for loan from the centre.
|David Attenborough's First Life: a journey back in time by Matt Kaplan with Josh Young. Introduction by David Attenborough. |
2010, Harper Collins Publishers, London.
The history of life is the most spectacular epic tale. Its storyline spans billions of years, from the dawn of life in Earth's ancient and hostile environment to the invasion of land by the first terrestrial organisms. The journey of life is full of bizarre, primitive creatures, from giant, bracken-like fronds to five-eyed predators with corkscrew mouths. Catastrophes as well as happy accidents pepper the rich evolutionary journey of animals.
David Attenborough's First Life takes you on a journey back in time to the key moments in the development of life on earth. With material and images from the BBC television series.
This book is available for loan from the Centre.
|Field trip to Cox's Scrub and Mt Compass|
|40 different species were seen on 2nd June 2014.|
Birds seen at Cox Scrub
It was an excellent excursion on Saturday 12th April when 40 enthusiastic people ventured out to learn more about the fascinating rocks around our local area.
The Southern Fleurieu has a rock record extending back at least 1600 million years. So we started at Myponga Beach with an energetic scramble over some huge rocks to view interbeds of limestone and mudstone from the Sellick Hill Formation and then on to Carrickalinga Heads for a more leisurely stroll down to the beach to view the sandstone from the Carrickalinga Head Formation.
After a picnic in Bungala Park we headed to Little Gorge where we viewed gneiss and schist from the Barossa Complex and glacial tillite composed of conglomerate and sandstone from the Sturt Tillite.
Wirrina was another scramble of some boulders to see sandstone from Aldgate Sandstone, glacial tillite composed of conglomerate and sandstone from Sturt tillite and black mudstone from Tapley Hill Formation.
It was then time for a nice relaxing cup of coffee or tea and some delicious scones at Leonard's Mill which gave us time to digest some of the information swirling around in our brains.
The day concluded at Second Valley to view black mudstone from Tapley Hill Formation and limestone from Brighton Limestone.
Thank you to Dr Pierre Kruse for organising theevent and putting together a very interesting power point presentation which is available below.
Download the Slide Show Presentation
|Composting: the ultimate organic guide to recycling your garden. Tim Marshall 2008. Harper Collins Publisher, Sydney.|
|Composting is easy, rewarding and profitable: your garden will benefit and so will the environment. This book
tells you what you need to know about recycling in your own backyard.|
Composting: the ultimate organic guide to recycling your garden is a comprehensive, easy to use, practical guide to soil improvement. It also recognises that time spent close to the soil expands the gardener's understanding of biodiversity and the need to make room for nature's complex processes, even in our cities and backyards - an awareness we must develop to maintain our land and water resources sustainably.
This book is for loan from the centre.
|Field trip to Laratinga Wetlands, Mt. Barker|
|51 different species were seen on 7th April 2014.|
Birds seen at Laratinga Wetlands, Mt. Barker
51 different species seen on 7th April 2014
|The Native Plants of Adelaide: returning the vanishing natural heritage of the Adelaide Plains to your garden, Phil Bagust & Lynda Tout-Smith. 2010. Wakefield Press.|
Australian native plants have been a popular option for gardeners for many years, but only rarely are the words "locally indigenous" used when selecting species.
Locally indigenous natives are the plants that evolved to grow naturally in a particular area. In the case of the Adelaide metropolitan area, these plants remain almost unknown by the general public, largely because the unique native woodlands and wetlands of the Adelaide Plains have long since succumbed to urban development.
This pocket-sized guide aims to bring the very beautiful -but now largely forgotten- indigenous flora of Adelaide back into the spotlight for nature enthusiasts and home gardeners alike. The Native Plants of Adelaide profiles over 100 of the most important (and formerly most common) indigenous species. Each plant is depicted by at least one photograph accompanied by information about its former distribution, uses for humans, and good tips about growing it in your own garden.
This book is available for loan from the centre.
|Mistletoes of Southern Australia. David M Watson, illustrations by Robyn Hulley. 2011, CSIRO Publishing.|
Mistletoes are a distinctive group of native plants found throughout Australia, from Wilsons Promontory to Cape York, Byron Bay to Monkey Mia and most regions in between. In addition to forest and woodland, desert and heathland, mistletoes also abound in urban and agricultural areas, making some of the most cosmopolitan plants of the continent.|
Mistletoes are an enigmatic group of plants. Lacking roots and depending on other plants for their livelihood, they have inspired a range of beliefs throughout the world. Some people regard them as mystical plants endowed with magical properties, others as destructive weeds that devalue native habitats, and still others as beautiful native plants that support wildlife.
With 51 specially commissioned watercolours by artist Robyn Hulley and more than 130 colour photographs, Mistletoes of Southern Australia is the definitive authority on these intriguing native plants.
Shrub with varying height depending on local rainfall, from 1m to 7m. Found in South Australia, Victoria, NSW & Tasmania, in scrubland, heathland & moorland. New leaf growth is pale pink or pinkish brown, juvenile leaves & leaf tips often have fine toothed edges. Juvenile leaves 3 to 7cm long. Mature leaves have an alternative arrangement on stem & are narrow with a tapered end a prominent midrib underneath, 1.5 to 6 cm x 0.3 to 1.3cm wide, dull green on upper side & whitish underneath . Often appearing silver in the wind. Pale yellow flower spikes with grey or golden tinge on late bud, 5 to 10 cm x 4 to 6cm cone shaped flower in late Summer to Winter, attracting Birds, Fauna & Insects. Buds pale yellow or green in colour. Flowers mature & dry to develop woody follicles. Seedpods are a woody cylindrical cone 8 x 4 cm, containing follicle segments, each with 2 seeds. Seeds are black triangular 5mm attached to a1cm flat papery wing.
When fruits are dry & mature usually 12 months after flowering, cut from the plant & store in a dry warm place to allow follicles to fully open, shake the seed out, clean to remove any debris. Mature cones can be left in a warm oven at 120c for half an hour to help dislodge the seed. Sow seed just below the surface in seed raising bed in Winter to Spring, keep moist. Germinates in 4 to 6 weeks. Transplant into pots when seedlings have developed their first true leaves. Plant out when seedlings are about 12 months old. Keep well watered for first 12 months. Tolerates a variety of soils & condition but will grow spindly if planted in the shade. A good prune back to remove dried leaf matter & old cones will be beneficial to the plant & keep the bush compact.
Cuttings can be taken from firm young growth in August to October
Gorse, Furz, Common Gorse, Irish Furz
Native to Europe & Nth United Kingdom. Introduced into Australia 150 years ago. A dense, prickly shrub up to 7m but typically 3m tall. Mature plants have spines along the stem. Waxy leaves are very spiny. Green & darkening with age. Young seedlings have trifoliate leaves resembling a small cloverleaf. Yellow pea shaped flowers in clusters towards the ends of branches, usually flowering in Spring & Autumn. Plants start to flower when plant is 18 months old.
Fruit is a dark pod 1 to 2 cm long covered in fine hairs, containing 2 to 6 yellow green seeds. Seeds are released in Summer. Viable for up to 30 years.
Seed spread by seed ejected by ripe seed pods, also by machinery, birds, water & stock.
Gorse occurs in pastures & crops & native vegetation. Resulting in decreased production & biodiversity & an increase in habitat for foxes & rabbits. Extremely flammable & fire regenerative. Prevention is the most cost effective means of control. Prevent flowering & thereby reducing seed.
Integrated control methods must be long running & persistent & with cooperative efforts with neighboring land owners. Herbicide application, on advice of herbicide retailer, when plants are at least 500mm high, best when plants are actively growing during Spring To Summer & after Autumn rain. Do not spray when plants are flowering. Recheck plants after 12 months & reapply herbicide if necessary. Grazing with sheep & especially goats on re emergent seedlings is moderately effective & nutritious to stock. This also applies after controlled burning. But beware, Gorse is extremely flammable.
Biological pest control is very effect when used on this plant. The gorse Spidermite (Tetranychus lintearis) & the Gorse Seed Weevil (Exapion ulicis) reduce the spread of this weed.
Gorse is used in some counties as a hedge plant or stock fodder. The wood has been used to make utensils, due to its on toxic properties, The flowers are also used in Homeopathic Bach Flower Remedies.
Twiggy Daisy bush
Straggly, many branched bush. 0.5 to 2m x 1 to 1.5m.
Small leaves, linear, dark green above paler underneath, rough to touch, rolled edges. 1 to 2 mm long. White to cream, small, daisy like flowers with strappy 2 to 10 ray florets, along the stem in leaf axils, 25mm wide. Flowering most of the year.
Found in open forests, gullies, prefers semi shade.
Good in gardens, benefits from pruning, plant under trees.
|Field Trip to Goolwa Ponds & Goolwa Barrages on 24th February 2014|
|Trip to Goolwa Ponds & Goolwa Barrages on 24th February 2014|
59 different species were seen on 24th February 2014.|
Birds seen at Goolwa Ponds
59 different species seen on 24th February 2014
|Grow your Own Bushfoods|
Grow your Own Bushfoods: a complete guide to planting, eating and harvesting. Keith and Irene Smith, 2013. New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd.|
Most people have heard of Australian bush tucker and know it is collected from trees and plants in the wild. But the idea of growing your own bushfoods, just like ordinary fruits and vegetables, is new and fairly radical. Grow Your Own Bushfoods has been created to change all that. The five major kinds of bushfoods - leaf flavours, fruits, vegetables and tubers, seeds and nuts, and nectar - are all dealt with separately in the first five chapters and chapter six guides you through growing bushfoods.
Austral doubah, bush tomatoes, Davidson plum, geebungs, lemon myrtle, lilly pilly, midyimberry, riberry, quandong, warrigal greens and wattleseed are all indigenous food-bearing plants which grow in the bush or the outback, but imagine going into your own garden and picking them to eat! This book tells you how to grow and harvest 150 kinds of Aussie bushfoods right in your own backyard. "We have always been organic gardeners, conscious of the fragility of our environment. Growing bushfoods is a logical step in thinking globally and acting locally
Small Yellow Rush-lily
Wiry, erect stems to 50cm.
Rhizomous roots, in clumps.
Leaves grass like.
Yellow flowers, 6 petals, twisting tightly when finished. Flowers in Summer.
Seed capsules with conical tip.
Found in sandy coastal sites, heath & mallee, common along roadside.
Photo: Joy Mayberry
Catsear, Flatweed, False Dandelion
Perennial. Native to South America. Low growing rosette of rough & hairy leaves, rounded toothed edges 5-20cm x 10 -40 mm.
Many petalled yellow flowers, in a ray formation, 3 cm across on branched or solitary stems
15 – 80 cm high. Mostly flowering Nov – Jan & throughout the year.
Seedhead & flowers similar to dandelions. Often mistaken for Dandelions, the main differing feature is Dandelions have a hollow stem, Catsear has a solid stem.
Edible raw leaves, roots can be roasted.
Common in lawns, roadsides & bushlands.
Remove flowerheads before seeding to cut down on seed dispersal.
Shrub to knee high. Leaves egg shaped, dark green & smooth above, paler, grey & somewhat hairy underneath. Flowers, off white, with 2 or 3 leaves per floral head, Spring or Summer. Seed capsule ovoid, 3mm in length, brownish black seed, less than 1mm & released from valves in the capsule.
Collect unopened fruits & let the valves open, or collect in a sheet left at the base of the plant in January, sprinkle seed over propagating mix cover with light gravel, keep moist. Sow seed in Autumn or Spring.
Beautiful in the garden. Likes sandy heath country near the coast.
Photo: Joy Mayberry
Christmas Bush, Sweet Bursaria, Native Box. Commonly occurs in the understory of woodlands in Eastern and Southern Australia. Reaches 10m high.
Very popular food for butterflies and moths, an ideal haven for small birds.
Bears small, fragrant, 5 petalled, white flowers in Summer.
Spines on branches, up to 1 cm long. Leaves, wedge shaped, 2 to 4.3 x 0.3 to 1.2 cm long, notched at the ends, fragrant when crushed.
Grey furrowed bark, smooth branches. Lives for 25 to 60 years, will re-sprout after fires the base.
Brown papery seed capsules containing seeds in terminal clusters. Easily collected in late Summer & Autumn when ripe, wearing gloves on still days, by hand or by shaking the branch & catching seed in a drop sheet on the ground . Chill the seed in the fridge for 3-4 weeks at 2-40c . Sprinkle lightly over propagating mix or original site soil, in late Autumn to Winter. Larger leaf & no spines from moister sites. Spinier, smaller leaf in drier sites. .
Suitable for home gardens. Prune to encourage a bushier plant.
Photos. Ron Taylor
Ruby Saltbush, Barrier Saltbush
Low sprawling shrub, 1x1m.
Found throughout Australia in poor soils, especially saline sites. Very adaptable.
Evergreen semi- succulent, cylindrical, finger like leaves, up to 2cm long, grey in appearance.
Insignificant, single, axillary flowers in early Summer & Autumn. Followed by small (5mm diam), fruit, yellow ripening to red, with a central depression (pictured). Salty & sweet to taste. Attracts birds.
Propagate from seed or cuttings, they do self seed in gardens quiet readily. Pick ripe fruits, in summer, dry, gently rub on absorbent kitchen paper to remove the flesh, sow in germinating soil in Winter & Spring. Germinates in 1-4 weeks. Keep soil moist.
Photo: Ron Taylor
Two-horned Sea Rocket
A world wide highly invasive hardy weed that originated In North Africa & temperate Europe, spread by wind water, tide, birds, ship ballasts & sand transportation. It is quick to establish in harsh maritime saline conditions becoming a coloniser species along high tide lines & sand dunes. Its two part seed pod ensures that one seed part is retained close at the parent plant whilst the second seed part is easily dispersed to another location. The seedpod/fruit is small, flat 1.5-2cm long, horned or unhorned, may or may not be present at flowering time.
Leaves are fleshy, unevenly lobed & divided , 2-8cm long.
Flowers, pink to lilac sometimes white, 4 petals, 1-1.5 cm wide,
characteristically opening from the bottom of the stem
& then upwards towards the top. Fragrant.
Flowering all year.
Orange bellied parrots feed on its seed, whereas high levels of erucic acid can have pathological effects on the cardiac muscles of other animals.
Control measures must be carried out every eight weeks, before seed drop by hand pulling or spraying with a suitable herbicide, often difficult in a large scale operation.
Control of Cakile is rarely undertaken.
|Wattle Seed: the kitchen handbook|
by Linda Hoffmann. 2012
Features 35 recipes using Australian native wattle seed.
The difficult rural and financial times in the 1990s prompted the owners of Footeside Farm, Eudunda to research ways of increasing farm resources and their business. This book shares some of the knowledge gathered by growing, harvesting, processing, storing and most importantly using wattle seed in the home kitchen. Whether it's a special occasion, dinner with friends or a cosy liaison, you can impress with the unique flavours of Australia. Featuring a range of recipes including marinades, dressings, pancakes and pasta through to desserts and drinks
Wattle seed flavour when roasted is nutty, creamy and has tones of mocha. This versatility means it can be used in either savoury or sweet dishes. The benefits of wattle seed have not been fully explored to date. Relatively high in protein and low in the glycaemic index. Dark roasted wattle seed can be used as an alternative to coffee. To date those with gluten allergies have not had reactions to wattle seed.
For anyone interested in learning more about making use of native foods this book is an ideal guide.
This book is for loan from the centre.
|Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)|
Size: 37 - 41 cm|
Wingspan: 7 - 80 cm
Male weight: 190 - 400g
Female weight: 260 - 630g
Habitat: Coastal mudflats and sandy intertidal zones
The Bar-tailed Godwit is a large wading bird with conspicuous blue-grey legs and a long, dark, slightly upturned bill with a pink base. The breeding and non-breeding plumages of the male Bar-tailed Godwit are noticeably different, changing from dull grey-brown in the winter to rich chestnut across the back and breast during the summer breeding season. The neck, breast and sides of the body are finely streaked with black ad there is a dark brown and grey streaking on the back and the wings. The breast returns to an off-white colour once the breeding season is over, while the rest of the plumage becomes duller with pale fringes to the back and wing feathers.
The female is generally larger than the male with a noticeably longer bill and has little red-brown colouration during the breeding season. Both the male and female Bar-tailed Godwit have a distinctive black and white barred tail.
The Bar-tailed Godwit is a non-breeding migrant in Australia. Breeding take place each year between late May and August in Scandinavia, eastern Siberia and Alaska. The nest is a shallow cup in moss sometimes lined with vegetation. Both sexes share incubation of the eggs and care for the young.
This bird has the record of any bird for undertaking the longest non-stop flight, flying over 11,000km in 9 day without taking a break.
Spring rolling Grass, Hairy Spinifex, Rolling Spinifex, Beach Spinifex, Coastal Spinifex
An interesting looking coastal grass with attractive grey, silver leaves to 30cm on creeping runners several meters long. Unusual seed heads in large, 20cm diam circular heads of a collection of straw coloured seeds, 12mm. Often seen rolling in the wind along coastal & dune habitats. Female & male are flowers on separate plants, or some plants only produce male flowers. Male flowers are yellow brown on erect stems. Female flowers are grey, green on what is commonly recognised as the rolling seed head, between Nov to Jan. Runners where often utilised by indigenous people to make string. Propagate in Winter from shoot runners. Pioneer colonisers, binds loose sand.
Stiff, prickly shrub 0.5 -2 m high.
Stiff pointed leaves, prominent mid rib, 5 -25 x 1.5- 3mm.
1 solitary, 3 to 4.5 mm wide, cream to yellow, in the leaf axils on a flower stem (peduncle) 5-15mm long. Flowering Aug to Jan.
Seedpods, 4 7 cm x 3 -5 mmm, curved, pale brown wrinkled thickened surface, pointed tip scarcely constricted between seeds, thickened aril, folded once or twice at base of each seed. Dark brown seeds, 4.5 - 5.5 mm.
Collect dry seed from plant, break open pods to retrieve seed. Scarify seed before sowing. May also be propagate by cuttings. Prune after flowering. Great garden species, but not alongside paths or play areas. Tolerates dry periods. From Eyre Peninsula to near Bordertown, also the Grampians in Victoria.
False Caper, Geraldton Carnation, Spurge, Terracina Spurge.
Originated in Mediterranean coast & Canary Islands in the Atlantic, Nth of the Red Sea. Introduced for unknown reasons probably as an ornamental plant. Common in many areas, coastal & inland, poor or fertile soils in both disturbed or undisturbed sites with rapid growth & prolific seed production. Spread easily by wind, water, birds, animals & by explosive seed propulsion.
Upright shrubby plant to thigh high.
Leaves alternate along the stem lance shaped, with a whorl of 5 leaves below the flowering stalks.
Flower, a lime green, 2 leaved structure. Flowering in Spring
Resistant to herbicides, slashing, grazing or burning with a deep tap root that will re-sprout, with re-emergent plants more robust with greater seed output.
Seed production starts in young emerging plants, it is important to control young plants as early as possible before seed set, taproot development or herbicide resistance occurs. Soil seed bank remains or 3-5 years so extensive follow up measures must last for 5 years. Sap is toxic & will cause irritation to unprotected skin. Manual removal is best between June- Nov. Appropriate herbicide application best between June -Aug.
| A small bird 9-11 cm. with a widespread distribution often in the canopy of tall forests but also in low mallee woodlands it can be identified in the canopy by a loud chip chip call with a number of other similar calls, it has a short-tipped tail and relatively short rounded wings.|
Mostly insectivorous, occasionally eating some plant material, they feed singly or in pairs although during the winter months they will join mixed feeding flocks. The favoured food source is the lerp which has a honeydew casing. The pardalote has to spend some time avoiding larger honeyeaters which also eat the lerps, they will occasionally eat some plant material.
Monogamous breeders with both partners sharing nest construction, incubation and chick rearing, they nest in deep horizontal tunnels with a very small entrance, mouse hole size, also can be found nesting in cracks in stone walls, tree hole, cliff faces and nest boxes.
|Australian Gardens for a Changing Climate|
Jenna Reed Burns, photography by Simon Griffiths. 2008, Penguin Books
Gardens enhance our lives, add value to our properties and provide food and habitat for native fauna. Australian Gardens for a Changing Climate guides today's gardener through the challenges of climate change and its effect on our environment. The need for water restrictions and scarcity of water doesn't mean we have to forgo gardening altogether - simply that the style of our gardens has to change. A lot has been written about how to save water in the garden, but this book goes further - featuring twenty-five inspiring examples of dry-climate gardening in various situations around the country.|
Divided into five broad categories (City, Native, Coastal, Succulent and Country) according to location or type. Includes information on water-saving techniques, soil preparation and plant selection. Beautifully photographed, this book proves that gardening with a limited amount of water is not only possible - it can produce beautiful, vibrant gardens.
This book is for loan from the centre.
|Oceans of Life; How Our Oceans are Changing by Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation, University of York, England.|
|Although we think of ourselves as the inhabitants of earth, which implies solid material beneath our feet we are in fact inhabitants of the blue planet. This was dramatically brought to our attention with the first photographs of the planet from space. The oceans cover 72% of the surface of the globe. With such coverage the significance of the oceans cannot be ignored or underestimated.|
This is an easy to read book that is both informative and comprehensive if somewhat unsettling portrayal on the state of our oceans. Far from a book of doom it is rather one of hope. It commences with a brief coverage of the birth of the oceans, the rise of its inhabitants followed by an in depth coverage of the issues currently affecting our oceans; the increased pressure from fishing, climate change and pollution.
A detailed reference section provides an abundance of source material for the avid reader to follow up on aspects of interest. Additionally there is an appendix listing the Conservation Charities (together with their web sites) working to protect ocean life.
The book does carry a dire warning and in Callum's own words "We are on the cusp of one of the greatest re-organizations of planetary life. Five times our world has been plunged into turmoil that ended with the extinction of huge swarths of life. Extinction rates of plants and animals now run at 100 to 1000 times the background rate seen in 'calm' intervals in the geological past."
But far from a prophet of doom Callum outlines many potential solutions to the problems and he is quick to add ..I remain an optimist. We can change. We can turn around our impacts on the biosphere. We can live alongside wild nature.¯
This book is for loan from the centre.
Scarlet Mint Bush.
A compact shrub 0.3 to 1 m high.
Aromatic leaves, 1.5 to 6 mm in length x 0.5 to 1mm wide, terete or round in cross section.
Flowering throughout the year, but mostly in Spring. Single flowers along the stem, 8 to 11 mm tube. Usually known for being red, pink orange or yellow but this local specimen from Rapid Bay is mauve.
Best in dry conditions in full sun or partial shade. It will not withstand moderate frosts.
Found in NSW, VIC, SA & WA in shrublands & mallees.
Best propagated by cuttings as seeds prove to be difficult & slow to germinate. Annual tip pruning is best, not harsh pruning.
BLUE or SANDPLAIN LUPIN
Native to Africa, Europe. Naturalised in QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, WA & Norfolk Island.
Widely cultivated as a fodder & grain crop. A common weed of disturbed sites, roadsides, woodlands, waterways. Deep strong taproot that has nitrogen fixing nodules on the top of it.
Upright & short lived 0.2 to 1.2 m tall.
Much branched hairy stems.
Radiating handlike compound leaves with 7 to 13 leaflets.
Blue pea shaped flowers,12 to 17 mm long in elongated clusters at the tips of branches. Flowering in Spring.
Long pods, 4 to 6 cm long x 1.3 to 1.7 cm wide, densely hairy containing 5 to 5 mottled grey, flattened seeds.
Spread by machinery, contaminated soil, fodder & water.
This medium-sized, dense wattle was used for stabilising sand dunes following sand mining. However, it will often pop up where soil has been disturbed, growing rapidly (up to a metre a year) and potentially suckering. It also self seeds easily, with baby wattles often sprouting around the parent. Look for a spreading shrub with a short stem topped by drooping branches ... a willow-like habit.
|FREE HOME ENERGY AUDIT|
|Interested in finding out how you can reduce your energy consumption? Want to know how much your appliances cost to run? The Normanville Natural Resource Centre can assist you. The centre has two trained Home Energy Auditors who are available to visit your home to help you understand and reduce your energy consumption.|
This is a free service available to all Yankalilla District Council residents. If you live outside this area a small fee is required to cover travelling expenses. The Home Audit takes between 1-2 hours depending on the size of your house and you are given energy saving recommendations at the completion of the audit.
Jules lives with her husband and two sons. Since having an Energy Audit her bills have gone down from $500 to $400 a quarter. "I was really surprised about how much the air con costs to run" it just eats up money! Before having the audit done, on hot days Jules would set the air con on the lowest temp to stop the inside of the house heating up. The auditor explained if we set the air con to an ordinary temperature, around 25C, it would save us a lot. Jules now makes good use of their ceiling fans and finds they do a great job.
Other cost cutting areas Jules has targeted include drying the clothes outside instead of using the tumble dryer and not leaving the beer fridge on all the time, just turning it on when needed e.g. for a BBQ. Another cost saver is not leaving appliances on stand-by. We also used to leave all our appliances on stand-by, it's just laziness really, using the remote. Now we try to turn them off at the switch as much as possible.
An Energy Audit can also raise awareness of how to select the most energy efficient appliances when replacing your old electrical ones and why choose water efficient shower heads. Please contact the centre to arrange a FREE audit.
|Bird Field Trip to Ingalalla Falls on July 25th 2012|
|Bird watchers from our local Normanville group were fortunate to join Nick Tebneff and Keith Jones, members of the Fleurieu Bird Watchers group on a visit to Ingalalla Falls and Springs Road Native Forest
A cold and blustery day was not ideal for seeing many birds but we were delighted upon our arrival at the falls to see a female scarlet robin which was feeding adjacent to the car park. We had some good sightings of her and she seemed quite unaware of us. When leaving we were graced by the appearance of the male scarlet robin, with his brilliant red breast and black back.|
As we descended to the creek and walked towards the falls we spotted several small birds in the undergrowth that Nick identified as striated thornbills. The speed at which they moved made recognition difficult. We were reminded that our knowledge of bird songs needs to improve.
The most beautiful bird sighted was a golden whistler which was spotted a distance away and then flew into a tree next to where we were standing and stayed in that tree for a few minutes so we were all able to enjoy his beautiful plumage.
Other birds seen in this location included a pair of wood ducks, a grey shrike thrush, a grey fantail, a scrub wren, a crescent honey eater , a little raven, and a group of Adelaide rosellas.
By mid morning we drove further up the Hay Flat Road, turning in the direction of Parawa and stopped at the entrance to Springs Road Native Forest. Nick led the way to a track which rises quite steeply with dense forest on our left. Before we had gone very far we came to a dam which is a haven for several types of water bird. A beautiful pair of shell ducks were preening themselves at the edge of the dam and their plumage was stunning. Swimming on the far side were some grey teal ducks.
Further along the track we saw a nankeen kestrel, which flew down for prey near a huge fallen gum tree. The kestrel retrieved its prey so quickly we were unable to see what it was, but hoped it wasn't a male scarlet robin previously seen near the fallen tree.
A huge flock of sulphur crested cockatoos seemed quite unsettled by our presence, screeching loudly overhead. Nick spotted a white throated tree creeper which kept evading our view by moving round the tree trunk but most of us caught a glimpse of it. There were several fairy wrens twittering nearby, their tails visible above the thick ground cover of ferns and grasses.
After a brisk walk and the onset of rain we decided to retrace our steps and drive back to Ingalalla Falls car park where we could enjoy our lunch under shelter. During lunch we discussed the birds we had seen and recorded the numbers of each species. Nick informed us of some other great bird watching sites for future trips.
We parted in good spirits and look forward to our next day out. Our thanks to Nick and Keith for sharing their knowledge and company with us and to Wendy from the Normanville Resource Centre for organising the day.
|Aldinga Scrub Bird Watching Field Trip|
|In spite of the sudden change in the weather our dedicated group enjoyed a great day bird watching at Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park on 23rd April 2012.
Equipped with cameras and binoculars and wearing several layers of clothing including hats and wet weather gear we were well prepared for anything. |
Aldinga Scrub is located between Aldinga Beach and Sellicks Hill and contains the last major remnant of native coastal vegetation in the greater Adelaide region. This patch of scrub is of particular importance as it has been preserved as an example of the natural landscape which existed along the sea front prior to European settlement.
The scrub is used by many school groups and it is cared for by Friends of Aldinga Scrub, a group of volunteers who work hard to ensure the fragile ecosystem is not destabilized by the encroachment of suburbia. Invasive weeds are removed and indigenous vegetation encouraged to regenerate.
Our bird watching group found it a wonderful refuge for a variety of native birds, some observed for the first time by group members. All equipped with binoculars we were constantly on the look out for birds and helped each other locate them. Neville, our guide for the day and a Friend of the Scrub were familiar with the area and led us to particular locations where he had observed birds previously. He had very good recognition of bird songs which helped us to identify many birds.
One of the birds seen by some for the first time was the crested shrite-tit, which we were able to locate and observe thrre of them stripping bark from a tree and then follow them to nearby bushes. The elegant parrot was seen several times, in flight and also perched on bare branches. Few of us had seen one before.
A dusky wood swallow was seen throughout the day, one of Wendy's favorites! Tree martins and welcome swallows were flying overhead during the afternoon, difficult to spot with binoculars but we were able to distinguish differences between them. We were really hoping to see the striated pardalotes, then one showed itself fleetingly during lunch, alomost coming down for crumbs. We were lucky enough to see a male hooded robin perched at the very top of a tree and it stayed there long enough for most of us to focus on it.
Of course all the more common birds were also seen but we still aim to seek out the rarer birds, such as wee bills which are so difficult to spot in dense foliage. We shared an absolutely wonderful lunch and discussed our forthcoming trips, with three already in the pipe line.
Each day we have shared has been so interesting and there are always new things to learn both in relation to birds and also the plants which they need for their survival. It was really energizing to be in such a natural environment where plants, native birds and animals co-exist as they have for hundreds of years.
|All you need to know about snakes and more!|
|Scott Creek Bird Watching Field Trip|
|On Monday 10th October five keen bird watchers set off for Scott Creek Conservation Park accompanied by Wendy White from Normanville Resource Centre.
Scott Creek Conservation park is located 30km south of Adelaide and contains the ruins of an old silver mine as well as some of the most diverse natural vegetation and wildlife in the Adelaide Hills. In the 1850's the area was mined for both copper and silver and by 1887 the mine had produced 310kg of silver. The mine shafts are now sealed off and partly camouflaged by the scrub and native flora.
The park has many fire tracks which double as walking trails, some ridge tracks gave superb views of steep, heavily wooded slopes. The countryside is varied and provides examples of open scrub, swamps and bogs, gullies, and steep forested hillsides. Numerous creeks provide their own diverse habitats, the understorey including banksias, grevilleas and hakeas. It is hardly surprising that the area claims to have over 600 native plant species, many extremely rare as well as 128 species of birds.
We were fortunate to have Tom Hands as our guide. Tom has an intimate knowledge of the park having been a volunteer there for over ten years and was able to guide us along narrow tracks, pointing out rare orchids and other wild flowers on the way. Tom spent time describing different plants and how he strives to maintain the balance by removing any weeds which threaten the environment. He also took us to an area where the Southern brown bandicoot has been seen recently. These are an endangered species.
Tom's knowledge of bird calls alerted our attention to many birds before we saw them. At one point on a track which followed the creek he pointed out a spotted pardalote's nest which was a mere hole in the side of a bank. We waited nearby and saw the small bird both leaving the nest and later returning.
Other birds we observed included the golden whistler, grey fantail, silvereye, yellow faced honey eater, eastern spinebill, superb fairy wren, yellow tailed black cockatoo, grey shrike thrush and white throated tree creeper. We were able to see the tree creeper at quite close range as it moved up the trunk of a nearby tree searching for grubs.
In a clearing we were able to view at a distance, a wedge tailed eagle which was holding something in its talons. The kookaburra and grey currawong were also heard as well as the grunts of a koala which we later saw climbing a nearby tree.
The day went very quickly and although the weather was cool and rather overcast the sun did appear. There were many photographs taken by members of the group which are a good record of flower species seen.
Our thanks go to Wendy for organizing the trip and to Tom who made it such an interesting and informative day.
Report by Diana Wallfried
|It was past midnight when my carriage turned into the gates of Castle Dracula. No lights shone from its windows. A tall old man, dressed from head to foot in black met me at the door. ¯ |
And so began the Jonathon Harken diary of his visit to Castle Dracula, the gothic horror novel published by Bram Stoker in 1897, the story centred about the Transylvanian nobleman and sorcerer who claimed descendent from Attila the Hun.
This also marked the modern eras story-telling of vampires and their readiness to sink fangs into any available neck! The shape-shifting naughty nocturnal neck nibbler of the night strikes again! Curiously before publication woman's fashion dictated coverage from foot to chin with the neck totally encased. After publication, a total reversal with the neck fully exposed. Is there a message here?
The name bat is from the Middle English backe , borrowed from the Old Swedish natbakka, night bat, in turn taken from the Old Norse lethrblaka with the literal meaning of leather flapper.
In many western cultures bats are a symbol of the night, synonymous with vampires, and invoke a sense of fear and dread derived from the association with black magic and witchcraft. However this is not universal as in both Poland and Macedonia they are considered symbols of luck. Similarly in many of the Arab lands and China where they are considered symbols of longevity and happiness. Unfortunately with the largely Western negative view these critters have ended up with a much undeserved reputation. This has been somewhat reversed in recent years with the rise of the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin taking on all the villains of Gotham City, and as good always does, triumphing against the evil doers.
Bats like ourselves are mammals and they belong to the Order Chiroptera which has an ancient lineage. They are found world wide and comprise over 1240 individual species, which is approximately 20% of all the mammal species. In numbers they are the most numerous of mammals on the earth but still they go generally unnoticed amongst us. Within the mammals they are the only members capable of sustained flight and as a consequence are found world wide, except for the Arctic, Antarctica and a handful of remote islands in the Pacific Ocean. Along with the pterosaurs and birds, bats are the only known vertebrates to achieve powered flight.
They are broadly classified into two suborders, Megachiroptera (megabats) and Microchiroptera (microbats). As the name implies the megabats are large with a wing span of up to 1.5m and weigh 1.2 kg. In comparison the microbats are small and range down a wingspan of 15cm and weighing 2.5 gm. They are generally 'furry'¯ but the microbats lack underfur. Whereas birds fly by flapping the entire forearm, bats in contrast only move the greatly extended thin and flexible 'finger'¯ bones. This flexibility is achieved by a lack of calcium in the cartilage of the fingers allowing for a great amount of bending without fracturing. The wings stretched between the foreleg and hindleg digits is a very thin membrane of skin and although easily damaged it has the property of rapid healing. This thin naked membrane is the secret of the bats high manoeuvrability and precision in high speed flight which is far superior to that in the birds.
Some bats are solitary but most are social roosting in colonies which may number in the millions of individuals. It is not uncommon for bats to migrate over considerable distances to semi-hibernate in dens during winter when food supplies are limited. Both groups are considered to share a common ancestor although considered to have been a small nocturnal insectivore, happily hanging from the underside of branches and when necessary, took to the air exhibiting elemental gliding. The origin of this proto-bat is still the subject of an ongoing debate and remains unresolved despite employing DNA investigations of today's bats.
The bones of both groups are delicate and are rarely preserved in the fossil record. The oldest known remains were found in the USA during 2004 and are dated at 52.5 million years, placing it in the early Eocene time. An even older single tooth believed from a microbat was found in South America and dated to the late Cretaceous Period (prior to 66.5 million years ago). Luckily the vampire members do not get the blame for the dinosaur extinction at the end of the Cretaceous!
Broadly the Megabats are fruit or nectar eaters, while the microbats which comprise 70% of bats, are insect eaters, although there is some cross over. The large megabats are out and about around twilight but just hang out with their mates during the day in any handy tree. It is generally these we see and take notice of. Food is located by smell and well developed eyesight. The microbats in contrast are exclusively creatures of the night with a somewhat poor vision and rely upon echolocation for navigation and finding their prey in total darkness.
The fossil remains from the USA reveal the ear modifications for echolocation were not present indicating that this was an evolutionary development exclusive to the microbats. These bats generate an ultra sounds and the returning echo is interpreted by the brain as a detailed image of the environment allowing the bats to navigate, locate, chase and catch fast moving prey on the wing. Although barely audible to the human ear the intensity of the generated sound is measured at 130 decibels, making it one of the most intense airborne sounds in the animal kingdom. Cunningly muscles in the middle ear contract during signal generation thereby ensuring that they do not deafen themselves. A down side of this brilliantly evolved bio-technology is the system fails in rain due to interference.
The 'calls'¯ are specific for different species, and once recorded and analysed they can be distinguished and identified similar to songs from different bird species. With the rise of robotics in the last few years there is currently considerable interest and research in the field of echolocation.
A major advantage of hunting at night is to avoid competition with birds and take exclusive advantage of the myriad of insects that emerge only at night. In the warmer months they are voracious insect eaters and can eat half to three quarters of their own weight in insects per night, considerably more than insect-eating birds. The microbats have evolved to take full advantage of this night time niche and research reveals some bats consuming up to 600 mosquitoes per hour. The ultimate 'mozzie zapper'¯ for that barbecue! With such a track record they can truly be considered as Cheetahs of the night sky. And like their Mega cousins they simply cannot resist hanging out with their mates in some dark recess during daylight hours.
And on the subject of vampires, yes there are vampire bats which feed on blood and as such are unique amongst the mammals as the only ones that are classed as parasites. But relax there are only three species and among them is the Hairy-legged Vampire Bat (true) and this feeds on the blood of birds. A handful of bats are actually carnivores, this includes the Ghost bat in Australia which feed on other bats and another which is a predator of small birds.
As mammals they give birth to live young which are nourished with milk. Generally a single and furless pup is born in spring to early summer. Mum dutifully carries junior about for up to a week before the weight training becomes problematic at which time it is left at a roost site while mum is out feeding, returning to provide milk. It takes two to three months for the pup to become fully furred, a competent flyer, and take leave of mum. Bats normally live five to ten years, but may live up to 30 years.
Recent research in the vicinity of wind turbines has observed a significantly higher death rate of bats as compared to birds. The cause is currently unknown although it has been proposed that the rapid change in air pressure in the vicinity of the revolving blades may rupture the delicate lung membranes.
In Australia there are 90 species of bat of which 75 are the small insect eating microbats and overall they comprise 25% of all native mammal species. Locally within the Mount Lofty Ranges area 95% of the vegetation has been cleared since European settlement. Recent research has identified twelve species of microbat ranging in weight from 5gm to 60gm. Many species forage within different sectors of the forest structure thereby reducing competition amongst themselves. The clearing presents a double problem for the local micro bats. Apart from the loss of roosting places, particularly in tree hollows there has been the loss of safe foraging areas within a closed forest environment as opposed to open forests. Despite the potential problem of being classed as homeless they have adapted surprisingly well to our constructions including roof cavities and readily take up residence. The average feeding radius from the roost is 15km but may fly up to 50km in search of food. Whereas insect feeding birds will frequently not visit out to a single paddock tree many bats in contrast will visit and make full use of it.
The unrecognised presence of bats is highlighted by Dr. Lindy Lumsden, an Environmental Scientist from Victoria and president of the Australasian Bat Society. Several years ago Dr. Lumsden carried out field work on property in Northern Victoria and within a patch of remnant vegetation. The local landowner had lived there for 80 years and never seen a bat. Next morning he was presented with 50 bats of seven different species. Currently farmers in Australia and overseas spend a fortune on pesticides in an effort to control pests. Perhaps we should be giving more attention and consideration to our unseen ally. Bats are highly beneficial in most farming areas and more than likely play an unrecognised critical role significantly reduced insect numbers.
Although under pressure, in general the microbat population is faring better than some other mammals and birds. One species, the lesser long-eared bat, because of its slow ground-hugging flight unfortunately falls victim to both domestic and feral cats.
They are significantly impacted by poisoning, particularly from the organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides, however currently there is a lack of information on pesticide accumulation.
Bats are very dependant upon trees, the population size being restricted by the availability of roosting sites. These are in high demand with competition from possums, birds and feral bees. Adding to the problem, a bat does not use just one site, but rather multiple sites, and this is further compounded by some picky species requiring specific height above the ground, entrance and cavity size, and proximity to water.
Bats can be encouraged by;
Retaining remnant vegetation
Replanting vegetation, especially around crops in a rural setting
Erecting bat boxes
In tropical and subtropical areas bats have an important function as both pollinators of flowers and dispersal of fruit seeds. Small bats eat a range of insects including mosquitoes which are becoming a human health problem here in Australia as they extend their range southwards with global warming.
With the constant and increasing competition between ourselves and the crop pests (diamond back moths, coddling moths, locusts, aphids, thrips to just a few), coupled with the increasing demand for greener food products, an increased positive association between us and bats would seem a very sensible and appropriate solution given their beneficial affects around a variety of crops including orchards, vines and broad acre crops.
|Do you remember "Millie"?|
If not cast your mind back to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Millie the Echidna was our national mascot and in that brief time became known world-wide. It was a very appropriate choice given that the Echidna is the most widespread of the Australian native mammals. But even with all this attention there is still a veil of mystery with not much known about them.
Echidnas are commonly known as spiny anteaters and although resembling porcupines and hedgehogs from the northern hemisphere they are distinctly different. The similarities are the result of convergence; a process whereby two different organisms exploit the same environment and because of the adaptations evolve to look similar.
The scientific name is a mouthful; tachyglossus aculeatus. The name Echidna is derived from the Greek ekhis 'the mother of all monsters' half woman, half snake and mother to most of the Greek mythological monsters.
Echidnas grow to 50 cm long, 2.5-7 kg in weight. They have a distinctive elongated snout which doubles as both mouth and nose, a long tongue, which as the common name implies, is excellent for catching its staple diet of termites and ants. Nostrils are located at the end of the snout together with 400 or so electro-receptors to aid in food detection. The mouth is toothless and they have an excellent sense of smell. Characteristically they are covered in spines which are modified hairs, and these are progressively shed and replaced similar to our own hair. The spines are surrounded by fur, short on the mainland but more obvious in colder Tasmania where the fur may almost hide the spines. From the distance it has a distinctive awkward and somewhat clumsy gait which is more reptilian-like due to the shared feature of the legs at the sides of the body instead of beneath as in the marsupials and placentals mammals. Uniquely they have backward-facing rear feet which aids in the escape strategy by digging straight down into the soil and presenting any potential predator with a face full of spines. This digging ability served them well during the devastating Victorian bush fires. While tree stumps were still glowing and smoke drifting emergency workers reported Echidnas out and about, essentially unharmed accept for some melted spines.
Although still considered by many as primitive they have a large brain case and do in fact have the same level of intelligence as a cat. They are long-lived reaching 40 years or more.
The Echidna belongs to a small group known as monotremes, which together with the marsupials and placentals are classified as members of the Class Mammalia. The ancestor of these three, a proto-mammal, arose at approximately the same time as the dinosaurs, approx 245 million years ago, and were dispersed across the then united supercontinent of Gondwanaland. This land mass was the southern of the two supercontinents (the northern being Laurasia) and comprised todays Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Australia, the Arabian plate and India. The progressive breakup of Gondwanaland commenced approximately 150 million years continuing until approximately 55-60 million years when the last two, Australia and Antarctica separated. It was shortly after the initiation of the breakup, 140 million years that the monotremes diverged from the main proto-mammal line. Later at 100 million years the marsupials also diverged from this main line.
The Echidna itself is currently believed to have split from a platypus-like water-foraging ancestor 19-48 million years ago and returned to the land. Since this family¯ split, the platypus has survived essentially unchanged, a true aussie battler, a real survivor, but that is a story for another day.
The fossil jaw of one on these ancestors dated to 110 million years has been found at Lightning Ridge in NSW and is currently the oldest known remains.
The lore of Australia's First Nation People has another explanation on the origin.
Back in the Dreamtime, Echidna, like many other of the animals and birds of today, had a human form. Echidna was an old man who transgressed the law and aroused the anger of the elders. As punishment he was surrounded and speared multiple times so his back bristled with a mass of embedded spears, and his arms and legs broken. His wife Nunkito was so distressed at the news that she gashed her head with her digging stick until the blood flowed freely and stained her body. Later Nunkito was transformed into a robin and the red breast is an echo of that distant event. Old man Echidna although badly wounded had survived and crawled into a hollow log where he remained until all his wounds had healed. His arms and legs were now badly distorted explaining his now seemingly clumsy gait. Hands and feet were transformed into strong powerful claws. Despite the efforts of both himself and wife Nunkito, the spears could not be pulled from his body and today we see him out and about still bearing the mark of his punishment.
The monotremes are a unique group. Like their relatives the marsupials and placentals they are characteristically warm-blooded. All three provide their young with milk, but unlike the others the monotremes lay eggs. When the Scottish Naturalist William Caldwell announced this to the British Academy in London during 1884 it caused an uproar. This reptile/bird like trait is even the more intriguing given that the X sex chromosome is similar to that of the birds. On this basis some researchers propose that the ancestors of the synapsid lineage leading to the mammals and the sauropsid lineage leading to the reptiles and birds diverged some 315 million years ago.
Today the monotremes survive only in Australia and New Guinea. The iconic Platypus is found only in Australia. The long-beaked Echidna is restricted to New Guinea, while the Short-beaked Echidna is found in Australia and with a limited range in New Guinea.
Within Australia the Echidna is widespread, found from the mountain peaks, forests, grasslands to deserts. Solitary for most of the year they forage over a home range of 9-190 hectares (20-456 acres) which may overlap with a number of other individuals. Work on Kangaroo Island reveals a range of 40-150 hectares (88-330 acres). They are selective feeders and rotate through the home range foraging for up to 18 hours per day, travelling 1-2 km and excavating up to 1000 digs. In the process they contribute to soil aeration, the spread of mycorrhiza, nutrient mixing and seed germination. The Australian Short-beaked dines on ants and termites while the New Guinea Long-beaked seek out a wide variety of invertebrates including grubs, beetles, nematodes, invertebrate eggs, earthworms, insect larvae together with the ants and termites.
For the Australian Short-beaked the powerful claws come into their own, particularly to rip into ant and termite nests exposing the galleries of eggs. Here the long sticky worm-like tongue is ideally suited to the task of food gathering.
Given the opportunity Echidnas show a preference for a dense under story which provides not only protection but a warm dry area in winter and cool in summer. Caves, logs and rabbit burrows can be used as home.
As mentioned they have a large brain case with intelligence comparable to a cat. The neocortex in the brain is the site of higher mental functions and comprises 43% of the brain mass in the Echidna. On Kangaroo Island some have been observed foraging around the base of tidally inundated sea cliffs and display what can only be interpreted as an environmental awareness of tidal movements by regularly departing before they are cut off by the rising waters.
As an echo of their platypus cousin, they appear to be confident swimmers. Similar to the platypus the males have spurs on the rear legs but are non-poisonous. Within the eyes, cone structures are absent indicating no colour vision but they do have an excellent sense of smell. They are also capable of vocalisation with soft grunting sounds.
Echidnas are solitary by nature, do not fight or defend territory and basically ignore other individuals they encounter. However come spring and the females waft forth a pheromone courtship invitation. A number of males take up the invitation and form echidna courtship trains with a female in the lead followed by commonly two to six males. These trains may persist for one to six weeks during which time males can loose 25% of their body weight. Trains of a dozen individuals have been reported. Research by Peggy Rismiller on Kangaroo Island indicates that females only breed at 3-7 year intervals. After mating the males are observed to congregate for what could only be described as a post breeding blues bash!
Meantime after a gestation period of about 23 days the female lays a single egg directly into the 'pouch'¯ where it remains for an incubation period of 10-11 days. The pouch itself it not a permanent pocket and milk is secreted through a number of non-localised mammary glands along the elongate edge of the 'pouch'¯. The young puggle, as they are called, is carried, and provided milk for 50-60 days at which time it has grown too big, not to mention the emerging spines!
Mother stashes the puggle away in a nursery burrow. However it is still totally dependant upon the mother for subsistence she will return every 5-6 days for a period of a couple of hours during which time the puggle can ingest up to 40% of its own weight in one sitting. As the mother leaves she blocks and conceals the entrance to thwart predators. This cycle is repeated for the next seven months until junior is weaned and ready to leave home. Field work on Kangaroo Island revealed one such individual fitted with a radio tracking collar travelled 40 km before settling down.
Despite all its strangeness the Echidna has been a real survivor. Its success has been put down to a controlled birth rate thereby preventing overpopulating and consequently not competing amongst themselves for the food resources. With their colour and shape they blend into the surroundings and are a master of camouflage. In fact they are not uncommon in urban areas but rarely seen.¯
With their intimidating appearance the adults present a prickly problem to any predator with thoughts of a quick a-la-carte meal. The adults and more particularly the highly vulnerable burrow young have a number of natural predators including goannas, quolls (native cats), Tasmanian devils, dingos and large snakes. Imported predators have a significant impact and include dogs, cats, foxes and feral pigs. Research work on Kangaroo Island reports a 20% loss of both burrow young and adults to cats.
Additional to this predation the Echidna Watch Program reports that 20% of all sightings are road kills. Although not endangered as yet the pressure is mounting with expanding development.
|Orchids belong to the angiosperm group of flowering plants and count a close evolutionary kinship with the ancient asparagus family. The angiosperm group arose 120 to 130 million years ago during the early Cretaceous Period and it has been one of the most significant events in the history of the Earth. To this day researches are still challenged by the mystery of the origin of the angiosperms from the non-flowering gymnosperms, their rapid diversification and rise to dominance.|
Orchids are the largest and most diverse plant family on the earth comprising 8% of all flowering species and to date number at 22,000 individual species with the number still increasing as more are discovered. Most frequently we are aware of the tropical orchids and their magnificent blooms, however there are many more small flowering varieties which easily escape our notice. A number of the later are found in Australia scattered in the eucalypt forest, woodlands and mallee where they are tucked away in the under story and generally pass unobserved.
Recent research has found that two factors have enabled the orchids to evolve into the vast number of different species. These are pollination and fungi.
Firstly it is the highly adaptable way individual species interact with the pollinators, especially the bees. It has been discovered that two species of adjacent living orchids were found, due to their individual morphology, to dab only a specific but different location on the bee with their pollen. The bee is the unwitting carrier of pollen from both orchids and the specific location ensures that pollen from one species can only be passed to an orchid of the same species. Specific customer service!
The second is the relationship of individual species of orchid to specific species of soil fungi. This is a symbiotic relationship with both parties benefiting, the orchid receiving essential minerals and trace elements from the fungi which in return receives sugars from the orchid. With this strategy different species of orchid can live side by side without direct competition.
Research on a number of tropical orchids from South-East Asia in contrast, found that they rely on a wide range of fungi and these provide the orchid with carbon. This relationship is vital for the orchids as they have no chlorophyll and cannot generate their own. A carbon isotope study revealed that the fungi were in fact acquiring the carbon from the roots of adjacent trees, with which they also have a relationship, and passing it on to the orchids.
An Australian parallel is the research work carried out by Associate Professor Mark Brundrett from the University of Western Australia, and published earlier this year. The subject of the study was the critically endangered orchid Rhizanthella gardneri which is fully subterranean and has no green parts. Although it still retains some chloroplasts 70% of the genes in the chloroplast have been lost. This orchid also has a symbiotic relationship with a specific fungi which in turn has a relationship with the roots of a broom bush from which nutrients are acquired and passed on to the orchid. There are only 50 known individuals left in the wild.
|A man in his 40's was cutting wood in the bush when he told his companions he had been stung by a jumping jack ant (Myrmecia pilosula). Suspecting an allergic reaction, he took 2 antihistamine tablets. His companions left him alone for 15-20 minutes only to find him dead on their return. He was alleged to have died from anaphylaxis resulting from the sting of the ant.
The sting of this species of ant, is responsible for more anaphylactic shock (severe allergic reaction) than any other Australian insect. More commonly know as jumper ant, jack jumper, jumping jack or hopper ants it has been coined these names due to is jumping action when aggravated, which is very easy to do.
Jumping jacks are on average 10mm-12mm long and are highly aggressive and fearless. They are black bodied with bright yellow mandibles (nippers), antennae and lower part of the legs. Excellent vision make them efficient lone hunters often straying long distances from the nest. Although carnivorous, there have been reports that the worker ants eat nectar and collect insects for the developing larvae.
These jumping jack ants are uniquely Australian although a rare species has been found in New Caledonia. Nests are not easy to find and are commonly a small hole in dry ground, about the size of a ten cent piece. They are sometimes found under rocks with their eggs being visible at the surface. The ants prefer to make their nests in dry open eucalypt woodlands but have adapted to make their homes in walls, cracks in concrete, rockeries, dry dirt and dry grassy areas.
Common reaction to jumping jack stings involves, burning, itching and redness at the site followed by local swelling with blister formation. Itching of the site can last for a week or more. An icepack and "stingose" can ease these symptoms. Other symptoms may include fever, elevated heart rate and a decrease in blood pressure. Symptoms will vary from individual to individual. In severe sting cases, anaphylactic shock can develop requiring immediate medical attention. Some signs of anaphylaxis are swelling, in particular the mouth and throat, breathing difficulties, chest tightness, nausea and confusion. There has been a link between some types of medication, e.g. blood pressure medication, increasing the chances of anaphylaxis when stung by a jumping jack.
It"s always best to live with our fellow critters, but in cases where yourself or a family member could be sensitive to this ants venom, it may be advisable to consult a qualified pest control operator in your region. These ants are a huge problem in Tasmania prompting considerable research into venom studies and allergy immunotherapy. If you suspect you are sensitive to insect venom, you can arrange with your doctor to have a blood allergy test performed from "Southpath Laboratories" Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, SA 5042.
Once meeting these ants you will not forget them especially if have been stung. If you have found these ants in your garden or house, could you please contact the Normanville Natural Resource Centre 8558 3644. An informal study is currently being performed on these ants and knowing their distribution is valuable, particularly in the Normanville, Yankalilla and Carrickalinga areas.
|SNAKES and SPIDERS FIRST AID WORKSHOP|
|The NNRC held a First Aid Workshop presented by David Hamilton
from St. Johns, the topic was snake and spider bites and what to do if you get
bitten. In both cases if the casualty is young or old get medical attention asap.
Snake and Spider Bites
|Building Soil Carbon Workshop (Report of Workshop held)|
|18th November 2010 Victor Harbor
Presented by Tim Marshall of T M Organics and Deputy Chair of the Organic Federation of Australia (OFA).
The project is supported by funding from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry of the Australian Government.
The workshop modules covered:
The critical part of Tim's presentation was a relatively recent established fact that soil carbon in agricultural areas throughout the world, including Australia, have drastically declined with intensive agriculture. The situation has deteriorated more by the loss of topsoil as a result of wind and water erosion including slope instability following deforestation.
In Australia the pre-settlement soil carbon content was stabilized at 5% and this has now fallen to 1-2%. The lost carbon has been released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, CO2. According to Dr. Christine Jones, one of Australia's leading experts on carbon sequestration, "every tonne of carbon lost from the soil adds 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere"
Exasperating the problem of atmospheric carbon dioxide are the results from a long term (50 years) research program of the University of Illinios which found that the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer lowered the soil carbon. Although the finger is almost invariably pointed at the burning of fossil fuels as the culprit for the rising of the atmospheric carbon dioxide content, the "poor" management practices relating to soil carbon are a very major contributor.
Decline and deficit of soil carbon can be turned around simply by the addition of plant material. The carbon in all plant material is derived directly from atmospheric carbon dioxide. The use of green plant material (rich in starch) provides a quick hit and result. This material is unfortunately quickly broken down by bacteria and the carbon release back to the atmosphere as part of a short term cycle. The dry material is better as this provides food for the soil fungi as part of the long term cycle.
With the correct approach and management encouraging and utilizing the micro-organisms in the soil the carbon is bound in a variety of organic humic acids as part of humus and as such is immobilized for several thousands of years. The critical part is to then maintain those conditions to preserve the humus otherwise it will be lost back to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
Apart from sequestrating the carbon from the atmosphere humus has a number of other attributes significant for soil fertility.
The first is water retention. A soil with 5% soil carbon can hold 2½ X more than a soil with only 2% soil carbon. Apart from storing water and aiding in the "drought proofing" of plants, it significantly reduces run off and potential water erosion.
The second , nutrition:
Humus can store 90 - 95% of the soil nitrogen
15 - 80% of the soil phosphorus
15 - 20% of the soil sulphur
In addition to these a variety of essential plant trace elements are also stored and are likewise available to plants.
As part of the management to preserve the humus the style of soil tillage is a critical factor. A technique which opens and aerates the soil needs to be employed, rather than one which inverts and destroys the soil structure.
The realisation of importance soil carbon is not new as very recent work indicates. Researcher Per Stenborg from the University of Gothenburgh in Sweden working on an pre-Columbian archaeological project in the Santerarem area of Brazil (Amazon) regularly came across very fertile soil surrounded by otherwise infertile land.
These were not natural soils but had been created by the pre-Columbian Indians. Carbon had been added to the soil to enhance its productivity in order to support the agricultural based communities, which according to early 16th century Spanish explorers, flourished and were numerous. A significant amount of the carbon, some as charcoal, still remains in the soil to this day.
|The small Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis) birds are found nesting and foraging on our local beaches. They are a Threatened species with less than 70 Hooded Plovers left in the Fleurieu, so protecting their beach habitat is extremely important. They attempt to breed by making a small nest on the beach to lay their eggs.
Hooded Plovers live on ocean beaches and on coastal dunes. The Hooded Plover's diet includes insects, sandhoppers (Orchestia sp.), small bivalves, and soldier crabs (Mictyris platycheles). It forages at all levels of the beach during all tide phases. It is most usually seen in pairs or small groups, darting about at the water's edge as waves recede, bobbing and pecking along the shore. They nest during late spring and summer which unfortunately is also the busiest time of year on our beaches. Their simple next-scrapes in the sand and well camouflaged eggs are very hard to see and therefore at great risk of being stepped on. The tiny chicks struggle to survive because they need to feed on the beach, but cannot fly from danger for the first five weeks after hatching.
The major threat to the success of these birds breeding are dogs who are left to run free on the beaches and people who are invading their space as well as vehicles and horses. The adult Hooded Plovers will abandon the nest to keep it hidden and will not return until the disturbance ends. If this is for a long period, the eggs can literally bake on the hot sand, or be eaten by predators such as ravens, gulls and foxes. The chicks are also easily frightened by people and dogs. Without time to run and hide in the dunes, they will crouch near seaweed making them easy to step on. If disturbed too often they may starve to death.
See following links for Hooded Plover distribution and what we are doing to help.
Hooded Plover Locations
Protecting the Hooded Plover
Monitoring the Hooded Plover 2011 to 2012
|The State of Australia's Birds|
|The State of Australia's Birds reports are overviews of the status of Australia's birds, the threats they face and the conservation actions taken. |
To see the reports go to the Birds Australia website
|E-waste has been growing three times faster than any other type of waste. In 2007-08, 16.8 million televisions, computers and computer products reached the end of their life with 84 per cent sent to landfill. Only ten percent were recycled; nine per cent of these were computers and one per cent televisions. If Australia was to continue without any form of collection and recycling scheme, approximately 44 million televisions and computers would be discarded in 2028.
A national product stewarship legislation and accompanying e-waste regulations has been developed. This includes a TV and computer recycling program which is free at the point of disposal. Hopefully this will divert TVs from landfill and illegal dumping. This program has been implemented in 2013.
To find your location go to the TechCollect website
For more information go to the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme website
|Did a turtle die for your tuna?|
|Tuna stocks have been decimated worldwide. Supermarkets play a key role in the oceans crisis by selling us overfished tuna. Destructive fishing used for canned tuna also kills sharks, turtles and juvenile tuna. Australians can buy a sustainable canned tuna brand, go to Greenpeace's canned tuna guide website to check out tuna brand rates. You can also send an email to Australian tuna brands and tell them to use sustainable and equitably-caught tuna.|