From the desk of Bronte, Regional Ecologist. 

Our Regional Ecologists, Sandra and Bronte, had a very busy October monitoring wildlife across our beautiful region to keep an eye on how biodiversity is tracking. Following are some of the highlights.

Inspecting ‘Cockatubes’ for Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos Near Cranbrook & Tenterden

‘Cockatubes’ are artificial nesting hollows designed to mimic natural tree hollows and provide breeding sites for these iconic endangered birds. After installing numerous cockatubes in the last few years at numerous private properties, the Regional Ecologists, along with Judy Maughan and Aboriginal School-based Trainee Cleve Humphries, inspected these tubes for evidence of chicks, eggs and nesting adults. Excitingly, at some of the sites these cockatubes were already being used, with chicks sighted by our large telescopic video camera!  

Servicing Cameras at Red Moort to Monitor Malleefowl 

These remarkable ground-dwelling birds are one of the rare species that use external heat sources to incubate their eggs. They construct large nesting mounds where they lay their eggs on a layer of organic matter and encase them under a mound of soil to allow their eggs to be warmed from the decomposing organic materials and the sun’s natural heat. South Coast NRM have been monitoring these amazing birds for the last four years at Bush Heritage’s Red Moort property through camera trapping. These cameras track changes in activity of the species following important predator control efforts undertaken by Bush Heritage and DBCA in the area.  

Spotting Western Ringtail Possums at Manypeaks

Bronte and Sandra continued spotlight surveys at Lake Pleasant View, North Sister and South Sister Nature Reserves to monitor changes in possum abundance following predator control efforts by DBCA. These small tree-dwelling possums are now restricted to three stronghold regions, one of which is on the South Coast in and around Albany. The population near Manypeaks represents one of the species’ last remaining eastern populations, making it a particularly important site for ongoing monitoring and conservation efforts. 

Investigating Fungi Recovery Following Fire in Waychinicup National Park

South Coast NRM have recently developed a collaboration with Solomon Maerowitz-McMahan, a PhD student at Western Sydney University, who is interested in how fire impacts soil fungi. In October, Sandra and Bronte buried 40 mesh bags designed to accumulate fungal biomass at burnt and unburnt areas of Waychinicup. These bags will be extracted from the soil next year so that Solomon can investigate how fungal biomass differs between burnt and unburnt areas. This investigation is a critical component of understanding the ecological impacts of fire on diverse ecosystems and we’re excited to see Solomon’s results!