Position vacant - SARA Regional Ecologist

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

SA Rangelands Alliance - Regional Ecologist

Arid Recovery is a not-for-profit research and conservation organisation whose primary purpose is to recover, enhance and sustain Australia’s unique arid zone biodiversity focused on an experimental area near Roxby Downs in South Australia.

Arid Recovery and Bush Heritage Australia have established a regional ecologist position for the implementation of the South Australian Rangelands Alliance program and related biodiversity projects. This position, based at Arid Recovery in Roxby Downs South Australia, will initially focus on the review, development and management of ecological monitoring and landscape scale research projects in line with existing management plans across properties in South Australia managed or owned by Bush Heritage and Arid Recovery.

This position is full time for 3 years commencing July 2014.

This position is based in Roxby Downs, South Australia with regular travel to remote locations for extended periods of time.

Download a copy of the Position Description.

CLOSING DATES FOR APPLICATIONS: WEDNESDAY June 11, 2014

Please forward your written application addressing the essential and desirable skills and your availability to commence the position, together with your CV with contact details for 2 current referees, to Allison.Skepper@ceg.net.au  . 

Bettongs are go

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The May Roxby Downs market day saw the launch of the new Arid Recovery "2014 Adopt a Bettong" program. The aim was to highlight the success of our re-introduction of Burrowing Bettongs to the AR Reserve. The new Bettong adoptions are unique in that you receive a photo of an actual individual Bettong from the Reserve, that have been lovingly named by our Arid Recovery volunteers.

We were thrilled with the interest from the community and are happy to say that many of our lovely animals have new families.

"Bart Bettong" was adopted to Cornel Parshotam and" Betty Bettong" was adopted by Bank SA, to name a few.

A huge thank you to community members who have already supported this program. 

The Bettong Adopton program is now available on our website.

So adopt away and you will receive your very own Bettong toy, a 12 month membership to Arid Recovery and a photo of your very own Bettong!

A few of the bettongs that are in need of adoption are:

Chubby and cute Bree

Fiesty and focussed Barbie

Easy-going and Eager Basil

A week FULL of learning

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Last week at Arid Recovery we had the pleasure of hosting students from Port Lincoln High School; these students are currently completing a Certificate I and II in Conservation and Land Management. Their week was packed full of activities so Arid Recovery staff could pass on as much of their knowledge as possible and to help them experience what a week of working in conservation would be like.

To start off the week we had the students lay foot-netting onto our predator proof fence, to stop pesky rabbits attempting to dig in. It was a great opportunity to get their hands dirty and they took to the task with lots of motivation laying 100m of foot-netting in just over an hour.

A lot of the week was spent leaning to identify native and introduced species by their tracks and scats, once the students were shown what to look for they were constantly looking for more at their feet. We also looked over all the range of techniques used to trap different species at Arid Recovery as the students may need such techniques in their future endeavours. We also did a scat identification and collection activity where the students had to combine skill of identification, note taking and GPS to collect real data that will be used by a researcher.

The last activity for the students was to take but in our nocturnal tour, and the animals of The Reserve decided to pay them all back for their hard work but coming out to play. Throughout the tour they saw all of the BIG FOUR! A Western Barred Bandicoot was playing under a tree, a Stick Nest Rat was also spotted before even reaching the nocturnal hide. Then it was time to sit and watch the Bettongs play while the students settled into the Nocturnal Hide. Lastly and very luckily the students saw a Bilby bounding throughout a swale before the night came to a successful end.

Highlight of the week for the students were learning how to identify animal tracks and spotting all Big Four on our tour. 

A Rainy end to a long summer at Arid Recovery

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This year we have had the pleasure of Zac Richardison joining as a valued long term volunteer at Arid Recovery this weeks blog if of his experiences out at The Reserve so far! 

Summer being one of the hottest and longest for many of the staff and animals at arid recovery with 38 days over 40 degrees. It was shear relief when rain started to fall over Roxby downs in early  April.  The good news has continued with more wet weather and the reserve receiving 55 mm so far chasing the last of the hot weather out of Roxby and bringing an end to summer.

The rains have rejuvenated many of the plants which inhabit the arid zone, covering the normally red sands into carpets of green and filling clay pans, salt lakes and water holes with water. A rarity in the arid zone that brings out some of the most unusual and strange creatures only found after these weather events.




Shield Shrimps (Triops australiensis) are the most strange looking and distinctive of all desert crustaceans, and occur over much of inland Australia. Populations of these peculiar creatures explode following rain, and they can be found teeming in the temporary pools and water filled clay pans. Their "shield" is a carapace that protects the head and frontal portion of the multi-segmented body.




Trilling frog (Neobatrachus centralis) is a small desert-dwelling frog which grows up to approximately 5 cm long and burrows itself below the surface, with one Arid Recovery study finding them buried up to 90cm deep.  They protect themselves from dehydration by secreting a substance from their pores which builds a protective cocoon around their bodies.  Possibly surviving for years like this underground, the Trilling Frogs will surface with rain and retreating below ground after only a short time on the surface to mate.

Cheers Zac Richardson 

Fast facts on our Boodie

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

After a week full of Bilby and Easter Bilby related information we thought it may be time to update you all on our Burrowing Bettong. So here are some fast facts on one of the Big Four at the Arid Recovery Reserve.


The Burrowing Bettong (Bettongia lesueur) is also known as the Boodie, it was once one of the most widespread of all Australian mammals. It is now naturally extinct off the mainland of Australia, left to reside on islands off the coast of Western Australia and in reserves like Arid Recovery.

Burrowing Bettongs were first released into The Reserve in 1999, introducing Bettongs form Bernier Island and Heirisson Prong in Western Australia. Since then Bettong numbers have boomed in the reserve, implying they are taking full advantage of living in a feral free area. Bettongs are an extremely easy animal to trap and their inquisitive nature makes them an easy target for cats and foxes.

In 1863 the Burrowing Bettong had disappeared from Victoria and by 1942 the last specimen was collected on mainland Australia. However there are reports that they may have survived until the late 1950s in the desert regions of South Australia. This disappearance coincided with the widespread establishment of the fox and cat, introducing a new successful predator into the ecosystem. Rabbits also played a part in their decline by competing with Bettongs for food and shelter.

As the name suggests the Burrowing Bettongs construct a burrow in deep sandy areas. The burrows often form warrens, which have multiple entrances. A complex warren found on Barrow Island had 120 entrances and about half that number of individuals living in it. To date at Arid Recovery warrens have had up to 15 -18 entrances.

A Burrowing Bettong’s baby like a kangaroo is called a joey, and like a kangaroo it can be looking after and feeding three joeys at the same time. One at her foot, one in the pouch and one in embryo form. If there is a drought the mother will abandon the one at foot and in the pouch to prolong the development of the embryo.  She can wait for up to 11 months until the drought has finished and then continue developing the embryo when food is available again.  

The Burrowing Bettong is a browsing animal and at Arid Recovery it will eat a wide range of food, especially leaves, seeds and roots of plants occasionally eating insects.

Lastly don’t forget you can help support the Big Four animals of Arid Recovery by adopting one today find out how here.  

Bilby INFO hunt

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

So Easter weekend is finally upon us!! As any Arid Recovery member or follower should know this time of year is very important to support the Easter Bilby. Bilbies not Bunnies remember!

To help you support the wonderful Easter Bilby, here at AR we wanted to should share some Bilby facts and information with you. This way to can do your own research and start educating your friends and family as to why they should support the Easter Bilby for years to come.

Native species recovery at AR

Learn about the Arid Recovery Big Four; Greater Bilby, Burrowing Bettong, Great Stick Nest Rat and the Western Barred Bandicoot here. Such as, Bilby reintroductions into Arid Recovery represents the first time bilbies have been present in the South Australian arid zone since their local extinction in the 1930s.

Bilby fact sheet

Did you know? The Greater Bilby is a large, burrowing, nocturnal bandicoot. It digs extensively for the seeds, bulbs and invertebrates that constitute its diet. Find out more great facts on the Bilby factsheet here.

Bilby Trapping

Generally Bilbies are rather trap shy, and don’t often go for the peanut butter bait balls set in cage traps that are more appropriated for the eager and social Bettongs. On this previous blog you can learn about the effort and skill that goes into trapping the very clever Greater Bilby. Usually it includes traipsed through sand dunes on the hunt for Bilby burrows, keeping a keen eye for signs of Bilby tracks and diggings.

Bilby Plush Toy and adoptions

A great gift option is our Bilby Plush toy, a bit of Australian for a friend is always appreciated. You can also adopt a Bilby for someone you love, on your certificate you will even get info as the where, when and the sex of the Bilby you adopted! You can also adopt the rest of Arid Recovery’s Big Four here.

The Bilby and global warming

We already know well that rabbits have wreaked havoc on the Australian landscape, eating up our native plants and kicking some of our native mammals out of their homes. And those little holes that they dig all over the place that you might be unlucky enough to roll your ankle in aren’t too good for our environment either! Whilst our bilbies and bettongs dig similar holes, it has been shown they are much more beneficial for the environment.

Have a happy and safe Easter everyone. 


kiARa

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We at Arid Recovery have been lucky enough to host Kiara on her week of Work Experience below is her experience of Monday and Wednesday to share with you.  Enjoy

Hi my name is Kiara and I am Arid Recovery’s work experience student this week. This blog is an exert of my daily diary I have written about my experience. 

Monday: Today I felt confident walking into the AR office; Perri introduced me to everyone which helped calm my nerves. Everyone was welcoming and all smiles, on a Monday morning? Really?

First up I got to visit The Reserve with the lovely Bec. She taught me about the history of Arid Recovery including the Main Exclosure, the 1st Expansion, 2nd Expansion, Red Lake and Dingo Pen also about some of the past and current projects at The Reserve.  All the while she was teaching me about footprints and baits.

When returning to the office as the rain that was coming, it was hard to determine if anyone could get back out to the reserve so I stayed in and helped with calculations, filing and even finding Feral Cat Facts for a memory maker that is in the process of being made for feral cat month in May.

I learnt about the communication procedures, or Call-in procedures.

The best thing about today was learning how the Arid Recovery group works and finding out that we all have a similar sense of humour.


Wednesday: Today I went straight into town with Hayley to help out with the kindy kids and Macca the bilby.


We had two groups come in and both were amazing. We had two awesome stories and the look on their faces when Macca walked out was priceless! Afterward we had an Easter Puzzle Hunt and both groups seemed to love it.

When I got back I had to do an interview for my school assignment which Kylie helped a lot with and then the fun began!

After lunch I got to help Zac with dissecting some of the cat and foxes for stomach content. While dissecting we found a hopping mouse with three babies in one of the cats! I enjoyed it so much, except maybe the smell, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work Zac and I did.

After we came inside the all-knowing Zac taught me about how to tell what species a snake is by the number of scale it had.

Then came the scariest moment of my life. Kylie and Perri decided that I would be great at calling people about their expired bilby adoptions. I called everyone with a phone number to see if they would like to renew it. I have to admit I didn’t do too badly, with only a couple of stumbles, mispronounced words and awkward silences.

In the end I got a couple of successful readoptions.

In conclusion I just want to say thank you SO much to the team at Arid Recovery for having me here! I have greatly enjoyed myself and I can’t wait to come back!


An exciting return to AR

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

After over two years absence Perri Carter rejoins the Arid Recovery team as our Education and Community Officer.

After leaving Arid Recovery in 2011 I have finally decide it was time to return to the beloved desert, stepping back into the Education and Community role at AR.

I’m excited to be back at such a busy time, next week I will be out and about each day talking about why you should expect the Easter Bilby at your door over Easter. Bilbies not Bunnies remember! I will even get to see my old friend Macca the Bilby who will be joining me at some events.

Also with tour season fast approaching I am looking forward to spending many nights out at the Reserve, showing travellers the wonders of Arid Recovery. Tours are always a favourite part of my job showing new people around the Reserve is a great reminder of the special work we do.

Many Australians don’t get to see bettongs playing, bilbies scampering off into the night and numbers of hopping mice running amongst their feet. It is a wonderful experience watching people reactions to the playfulness of the bettongs and squeals of excitement as a Western Barred Bandicoot sneaks out onto the track.

Along with school groups and tours I also look forward to getting out and about helping in the Reserve whether it is early morning track transects or even helping lay new foot netting. Anyone that knows me is aware I am not a morning person, but that all changes working at Arid Recovery. I find it easier to get up heading off to check animal tracks and traps, there is always new sights and new experiences.

I look forward to seeing you around the Reserve and keeping you up to date on all upcoming Arid Recovery activities

Arid zone adaptations with Woomera

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Students from Woomera Area School visited Arid Recovery last Thursday. The students had been given an assignment on adaptations to the environment, and came to the Reserve to obtain some further information and partake in some fun hands-on learning. 

A group of 9 students, aged from 8 to 17 years old arrived at 10am on a beautiful autumn day. The students were given a safety induction, and topped up their sunscreen and water bottles before setting off on a tour along the nature trail. Stopping at each sign post, the students asked intelligent and thoughtful questions, in order to give them as much background information before they started on their assignment.

It was then back to the ATCO for recess, before getting started on a tracks and scats workshop in the sand dunes. The students identified the tracks of our reintroduced species and other common animals of the Reserve by comparing tracks in the sand to photos on a handout. They also learnt how to identify the scat of various animals, including herbivores, reptiles and carnivores. The workshop concluded with a track drawing session in the sand.

Students identifying tracks in the sand with Education and Community Officer, Anni Walsh

A flora ID workshop was next, with the students learning the difference between grasses, shrubs and trees.  Some common plants of the region were pointed out, and the students learned which plants the animals prefer, and the various adaptations that have enabled the plants to survive in harsh conditions.

The smell of a sausage sizzle bought the kids back to the ATCO for a delicious bbq lunch, and then it was time to learn about trapping and tracking animals at Arid Recovery.  The students learnt about the different traps that target different animals, before setting a cage trap and an Elliott trap and then had a go at radio tracking.

“The Woomera kids were brilliant,” exclaims Education and Community Officer Anni Walsh. “They were extremely well behaved, and were really in-tune with what we do at Arid Recovery.”

“I’m sure that they will go back to school with a greater understanding of arid zone adaptations, and I hope that they had a great time while they were visiting the Reserve.”

 Students drawing tracks in the sand to help with their identification skills

If you are interested in visiting Arid Recovery with your school, please email education@aridrecovery.org.au

 

Mulga Snake caught in mesh

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Arid Recovery Field Officer, Craig Wyatt and volunteer Zac Richardson got a surprise today when they saw a 1.7m long Mulga Snake (Pseudechis australis) caught in the Arid Recovery feral-proof fence.

“We were driving along checking cat traps as we do every morning, when I noticed a long dark shape at the bottom of the fence,” Craig explains. “As I went to have a closer look I noticed it was a Mulga Snake. The poor bugger was caught in the fence and had recently carked it.”



Craig believes that the Mulga Snake must have been on its last legs. “It was covered in ticks, and I think the struggle to get through the small gap in the mesh must have worn it out,” Craig said.

Craig brought the Mulga Snake back to the Arid Recovery office for the staff to do a closer inspection. A stomach content analysis showed that the Mulga Snake’s gut was full of worms and an entire juvenile sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa)!



Although it is sad that the snake passed away, it is a natural part of life, particularly in the arid zone at the end of summer, where food and water is scarce.

If you would like to find out more about snakes in the arid zone check out our snake awareness blog.

Blog

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Arid recovery is a conservation initiative supported by:
bhp
adelaide university