BRANCH UPDATE MARCH 2018

WHAT’S COMING UP?

THURSDAY 22nd MARCH – Closing date for VMOLA submissions.  What is VMOLA? Why is it so important? Please read the segment below (under What’s Been Happening) on the new tree-clearing reforms just presented to the Queensland Parliament.

SUNDAY 25th MARCH FIELD TRIP: Weather and other conditions permitting this will be a re-run of the planned February trip which was cancelled due to heavy rain immediately beforehand. (Yes, although the planned day dawned fine and sunny this had not been forecast so even the proposed “Plan B” would have been ill-advised and, rain or shine, our original Plan A would have been impossibly boggy). This will be a great opportunity to learn more about our glider monitoring project. Please follow this link for full details of the trip.

SUNDAY 8th APRIL TOWNSVILLE BRANCH AGM. This will be held at the NQCC Office (114 Boundary Street, Railway Estate) starting at 9.30am. All members are warmly invited to attend. If unable to come you are invited to complete and return the proxy form which will be mailed to members shortly.

TUESDAY 10th APRIL: OUR 50th BIRTHDAY!!! Yes, Townsville Branch turns 50 in April!  Following an earlier meeting of Society members and would-be members in March 1968 the inaugural general meeting was held on 10th April 1968. This is such an important milestone for Townsville wildlifers but your overworked committee have little time (read “no time”) to organise celebrations. But if anyone can think of a suitable way to mark this event, in a simple enviromentally-friendly way, do let us know. Over the last few months I have been working intermittently on a history of the Branch, currently compiled in various Word documents and spreadsheets, but this still has a long way to go. Anyone with stories or memories to share is welcome to get in touch.

SUNDAY 1st JULY – GOODBYE PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS! Are you ready? Yes, I’m sure you all have various versions of acceptable carry bags, but why not go one better? Check out the array of “green” food wraps, trolley bags and (my personal favourite) re-usable, hand-made mesh bags for fruit and vegies. All available from our Brisbane office until 30 March. View and order here.

WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING?

NEW VEGETATION MANAGEMENT (TREE-CLEARING) LAWS. I am sure we all remember the failure of the 2016 reforms to get through the Queensland parliament in August that year. Back then the government did not have a clear majority and it was the lack of support from the cross benches that brought it undone. A different scenario in 2018 sees the Palaszczuk government with the numbers to fulfil the election commitment made in 2015.  The reforms (with some changes) were re-introduced into parliament on March 8th and there will be a short period for public submissions, closing on 22 March. You can write a short email in support of the proposed legislation to the Committee Secretary at: sdnraidc@parliament.qld.gov.au. There has been little time to examine the proposals in full detail but if further information is forthcoming regarding particular points to be raised in a submission, this will be mailed out when received.

POWER-BOATS ON PALUMA DAM?? We received a report that Townsville City Council is considering the re-introduction of power-boats and motorised water-sports on Paluma Dam. This activity was banned many years ago, for a variety of reasons, and since then the dam (aka Lake Paluma) has become a more peaceful place for its wildlife (including platypus, water-dragons and many birds) and for people who can still enjoy quieter pursuits both on and off the water. Seeking further information from TCC we were advised that Council would be assessing “possible enhancement” of the dam’s use, and associated access and infrastructure. We have serious concerns about the negative impacts, on wildlife and other human users, of allowing power-boats or jet-skis back onto this quiet stretch of water. There will be a consultation process so stay tuned  - and be prepared to have your say when the time comes.

ARE YOU A CASTLE HILL WALKER? Late last year we received an enquiry about the wildlife on Castle Hill and whether any recent fauna surveys had been undertaken to assess numbers and diversity. The short answer to this was “No” but it did raise some interesting debate about how much (or how little) was known about the wildlife of the city’s most familiar landmark, and the accuracy of previous records. If you are among those who regularly, or occasionally, walk the hill we would love to know what animals you have encountered on the hill, even better if you are able to photograph them. We are particularly interested in mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and invertebrates too. Birds have been recorded more recently and more comprehensively than other fauna, but if you find evidence of breeding (active nests or nest-hollows, or recently emerged fledglings) or see anything unusual, do let us know.

KEEPING COUNT: The 2017-18 season of pied imperial-pigeon counting at North Brook island closed with something of a flourish as their numbers continue to climb back towards the pre-cyclone Yasi levels. By now most of the birds will be back in their winter feeding grounds in PNG but even as late as mid-February 11,587 birds were counted as they flew home to the island after their day’s feeding on the mainland. The peak (December) total for this year was a healthy 28,761 but while there is good hope for the health of this colony, the future of this wonderful community endeavour is uncertain now that it is only partially funded by DES. A grant from the Wettenhall Environment Trust helped fund this season’s counts but fund-raising to boost the resources of the Thorsborne Trust (which covers boat hire for two counts at a total cost of about $3000 per year) will soon be urgently needed,

SOME READING AND LISTENING

If only one had time to follow the constant stream of articles, broadcasts, documentaries and other media on natural history and conservation topics!! Here are just a few that might interest you.

Good vibrations? How spiders react to diesel engines (ABC News story) Read it here.

Is birdsong music? ABC’s Science Show with musician and ornithologist Hollis Taylor. Listen to it here.

Nature’s surprises: Elsewhere on this blog you will find two recent observations in nature’s weird and wonderful category. View them here.

Our smallest kangaroos are perhaps not what you think yet, while overseas audiences are hearing a lot about the culling of larger species, many of those much less well-known and rarely seen are disappearing out of sight and out of mind. Read about them here.

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