On Sunday the 8th of April our volunteer team joined 700 other volunteers to count black-cockatoos as they came in to their evening roosts. The Great Cocky Count is a long-term citizen science survey and the biggest single survey for black-cockatoos in Western Australia. This was the 10th year the event has taken place, with records submitted from across the southwest providing a snapshot of black-cockatoo populations to understand and quantify the changes in cockatoo numbers over time.
The Carnaby’s form large nocturnal communal roosts in the non-breeding season on the Swan Coastal Plain. The same roost sites are generally returned to year after year, with tree structure, food, shelter and water availability believed to be the crucial factors for roost selection. However, as Perth continues to expand, the native Banksia woodland on the Swan Coastal Plain is disappearing, providing less roosting habitat and critical food resources for Carnaby’s and other native species. This has resulted in the Carnaby’s forming a ‘mega roost’ with more individuals flocking to select sites. The volunteers counted 6,226 Carnaby’s at a mega roost during this year’s Great Cocky Count!
The largest threats to the Carnaby’s remain the consequence of land clearing and habitat fragmentation due to urban development, agriculture and competition for the remaining nesting hollows from species such as Galah, corella and feral bees. To help with this, we will soon be entering the planting season, and will continue to work with local councils and community groups to re-establish native vegetation in priority bushland reserves to secure a future for these beautiful birds.
As always, would like to thank our supporters, volunteers and very generous GlobalGiving donors. Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to continue engaging the community in local conservation efforts. Further donations are definitely appreciated, and will help us to continue to make a difference for our endangered native species.
As the dry hot summer has now pushed into autumn, rainfall events have been very few and far between. This is having a detrimental effect on our grasslands at Woodlands Historical Park. Even though this is nature and out of our control, we’re hoping to receive some soon. Naturally we go through drought periods and the bandicoots do adapt. But with grazing pressure also happening within the reserve this has become a combined effort and reduced our grass habitat cover.
During our recent monitoring, we were expecting fewer bandicoots to be caught as the animals adjust their breeding based on the conditions available, which were not favourable given the lack of rain. There is still plenty of natural food available just not the adequate grass habitat to commence large breeding rates. Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Project Officer Travis Scicchitano reports: “Our aim for this round of monitoring was to see the health of the bandicoots, not so much the numbers. We were please to find 45 animals that were captured and released - 28 male and 17 female. Over half of these were in fact 24 were cleanskins (caught for the first time). This indicates that the bandicoots are still breeding and turning over new stock despite the current conditions. Also, they were caught in all areas of the reserve, which was a positive outcome. Most importantly the animals were in good condition so hopefully they have got through the hardest part of this long summer and look forward to some rain over the cooler months.” Check out one of our bandicoot release videos – they are fast!
It was a tough monitoring program in Hamilton this round as the original dates had to be cancelled due to a bushfire. Travis explains, “The bushfire was moving in the direction of the reserve the week before, so no chances were taken and we postponed the monitoring for two weeks once the fire had been put out. Fortunately, at no stage was the reserve under threat due to excellent fire management plans and protection. We appreciate the efforts of all the staff and volunteers who had to reschedule their time under such short notice.”
Once monitoring commenced, it was great to see that Hamilton’s bandicoots are continuing to grow in numbers and all are passing their health checks. Travis says, “40 bandicoots were caught and processed and all doing very well. We now estimate the population to be around 80 - 100 and hoping this will increase up to 150 by the end of the year. So, bring on the rain to improve breeding conditions and we look forward to providing updates throughout the year.”
Over the past few months, we’ve had our teams out working with the Save the Tasmanian Devil team, improving devil habitat and camera trap monitoring on the Tasman Peninsula, which is a captive bred devil release site. This site is in southern Tasmania and is playing a vital role in providing a safe haven for healthy devils (who are free from the devil facial tumour disease) to be introduced or reintroduced into the wild.
There are 30 sites on the peninsula that have infra-red motion activated cameras set up on them for 2 weeks every year. The photographs captured are then analysed to identify individual devils and help determine if the population is healthy and growing.
When reviewing the photos, we look closely at the devils’ white blazes, as they are all unique and assist us in identifying individuals. Each photograph is also reviewed closely to look for any signs of devil facial tumour disease and we are happy to report that all the devils we photographed were tumour free and we even identified some individuals who have never been seen before, meaning the devils are successfully breeding.
The data that we collect as part of this project is crucial to understanding how well captive bred devils are adapting to life in the wild and it allows for early intervention, should devil facial tumour disease take hold on the Tasman Peninsula.
One of the added benefits of using the camera trap survey technique, is that we don’t just get photos of devils; we captured pics of all kinds of animals, including snakes, birds, wallabies and bandicoots!
We would like to thank our very generous GlobalGiving donors who have provided much needed resources for our teams to continue this important project. Your ongoing support is making a significant difference to the survival of our devils!