Flocking pigeons

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Over the past few months a group of volunteers have been watching the amazing site of thousands of Flock Bronzewings swarming across the arid landscape north of the Arid Recovery Reserve.

AR's resident cinematography, Travis Hague, has put together some footage of the phenomena.

Flock Bronzewing from LonelyOakfilms on Vimeo.


For more information about Flock Bronzewings, become a member of Arid Recovery and receive the new edition of the AR newsletter, with a feature story on these amazing birds.

A splendid splendida

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Although usually intently focused on our mammals scurrying along the ground, and making sure our fence has no holes, Arid Recovery staff and students do sometimes lift their eyes and look a little higher. 

(Photo courtesy of Brett Backhouse)

This photo of a Scarlet- chested parrot (Neophema splendida) was captured by current honours student Brett Backhouse, as he was working in a section of the Reserve.  Usually found in mulga and mallee habitat from inland Western Australia, through central South Australia and the edges of western New South Wales, this specimen was only the seventh confirmed record in the Roxby Downs region since 2001. 

You would be forgiven at first for thinking that we had the wrong species, the bird in this photo doesn’t have a red chest!  The individual in the photo is a female, with a blue face, green back and yellow underparts.  Males of this species have similar markings but with a brilliant red chest, that can begin to develop at about three months of age, but isn’t complete until about 18 months.  They received their name John Gould, an ornithologist and artist of the 1840’s, “splendida” being the Latin work for splendid, describing their vibrant colour.

They grow up to approximately 20cm in length and commonly feed on seeds from grasses and can obtain most of their fluids from succulents, rather than requiring access to drinking water.  These birds are classed as nomadic and will move in search of areas where the conditions are more favourable and food more readily available. 

BoPpers at the Reserve

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Most people are indulging in a little sleep in at 7am on a Saturday morning or planning which housework task needs to be tackled first but this wasn’t the case last Saturday.  The Arid Recovery crew and dedicated eager volunteers were up and enjoying the cool calm morning, undertaking a birds of prey survey within the reserve.

Although not usually a focus of Arid Recovery research, the recent birds of prey survey was undertaken to provide us with base data required for future studies.  With their spotter eyes on high alert the group split into teams to drive their designated sections of the reserve. 

 

Volunteers were on high alert for a number of birds common to the area including Wedge- tailed Eagles, Nankeen Kestrels and Brown Falcons.  Over a late breakfast the results were combined and discussed and challenges were issued as to who had spotted the most birds.

“It’s an absolutely gorgeous morning to be out at the reserve,” remarked Arid Recovery ecologist Helen Crisp.  “We are so thankful these volunteers have given up their morning to help us out and contribute to the future research programs at Arid Recovery.”

Results showed there were high numbers of Wedge- tailed Eagles within the reserve as well as Black Shouldered Kites.  By dividing the number of kilometres driven and the number of birds recorded and estimate of approximately 0.5 birds of prey per kilometre was devised.  "Because we don't have any other similar scenarios to compare it to we are not sure yet if this is an average dispersal of birds or not.  We are also experiencing relatively good conditions at the moment so this may also have affected numbers but that is all part of the fun of ecology," commented Helen Crisp.

World Animal Day

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Around the globe on October 4 people celebrated World Animal day, recognising their beloved cats, dogs, birds, mice etc. and the roles they play in their lives.  Maybe you donated to a wonderful organisation such as the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League or gave your cat an extra-long scratch behind the ears.  But this is a far cry from the original World Animal Day.

It took place at a conference of ecologists all the way back in 1931, who were extremely concerned about the number of endangered species around the world.  In attempt to raise awareness of the plight of endangered species far and wide, they named the 4th of October as World Animal Day.  We all know about some of the flagship endangered species from across the globe such as African Elephants, Blue Whales, Giant Pandas and Tigers, but what about some a bit closer to home?

Australia has listed more than 143 species of native animals, including fish, frogs, birds, reptiles and mammals that are listed as endangered.  Although some of these are animals you might be familiar with such as the Wedge- tailed Eagle, Northern Hairy- nosed Wombat and the Tasmanian Devil, there are others you may not recognise by first name.  For instance, the Northern Marsupial Mole who spends most of its time underground digging tunnels that collapse behind it or the Pygmy Blue- tongue Lizard who steals the holes made by spiders for their home are a couple that you may not know much about. 

At Arid Recovery, we wonder why endangered animals should have just one day to be celebrated and supported.  “Our country is filled with wonderfully unique fauna,” quotes Arid Recovery ecologist Helen Crisp, “Why wait for the 4th of October to celebrate them, when you can do it every day of the year at Arid Recovery and support the futures of endangered animals!”

Show your support by adopting an Arid Recovery endangered animal today.


Or vote for your favourite Arid Recovery Big 4 animal on Facebook in October for your chance to win a bilby adoption.

Museum Madness

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The South Australian Museum carefully wrapped specimens and put exhibits in boxes as they headed on the road for the last of their ‘Out of the Glass Case’ roadshow for the year 2013. Roxby Downs was the final destination for the travelling roadshow, and how lucky we were to have these special visitors.

Bringing with them a range of staff with expert knowledge on all areas including birds, spiders, fossils, and geology, the Roxby Downs community was treated to a night of discovery and wonder as the Area School library doors opened to the public for a Twilight Event. Arid Recovery was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Twilight Event, which enabled community members to see educational displays and participate in hands-on learning in a fun environment.

A regular at expos and events, Arid Recovery’s skins and skulls display proved again to be a hit, with many bidding scientists amazed at how light weight an emu’s skull is and how small a cat’s head must be! Visitors to the stall also had the opportunity to touch a range of furs, and distinguished between native and introduced animals by looking at the patterns and colourations on the animal’s coat.

The Arid Recovery office pet, Bruce the juvenile bearded dragon also came along for the evening. Bruce was extremely popular with the children, and his presence made every small child want to share their story about how they saw a lizard in their backyard in Roxby!


Local kids examine the skins and skulls display 

“Opportunities like the Community Twilight Event don’t come by Roxby Downs very often. It was fantastic to see so many members of the local community embracing the evening and bringing the kids down to learn something new and exciting,” explained Anni Walsh, Education and Community Officer. “Visiting these educational displays encourages children to use their imagination, and open their eyes to appreciate the natural wonders of our world.”

Highlights of the evening included blowing into the conical shell ‘trumpet’, witnessing fossils found in the Flinders Ranges region billions of years ago, seeing the egg castings of baby trap door spiders, touching a 10 foot python and of course the 'emu news' puppet show!

If you want to find out more about educational opportunities at Arid Recovery email education@aridrecovery.org.au


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