Look Local: Our first field outing of the year – Sunday 21st February. Our first walk of the year will explore a section of the riverbank, including some impressive post-flood regrowth which local residents have been fostering.

Rocking and Rolling at Rollingstone: Our final trip of 2020 was a repeat of the year before as we sought out somewhere with shade and water. Sadly there was less bird activity, and even less water,  than in 2019 but you can read the report here.  Please note that for the proposed dates of future outings in 2021 you can check our home page.

Mahogany Gliders' long tails help identification

Mahogany Gliders’ long tails help identification

The Great Glider Hunt winds upThe extended project, to search for Mahogany Gliders on a property at Ollera Creek, which began three years ago,  has come to an end with something of a flourish! Daryl Dickson from the Mahogany Glider Recovery Team recently confirmed the identity of animals caught in a fresh lot of camera recordings – bringing the total number of confirmed sightings to 82 animals, in 35 different locations. Sighting locations are dispersed throughout the total property area, and a small Council Reserve, of over 3000ha. As some animals were undoubtedly photographed more than once, this does not mean that 82 individuals were recorded, but does indicate that the gliders utilise almost all parts of the property  for denning or feeding. 

Members who attended camera trips had a rewarding time (and too many Frosty Mango ice-creams!), and Denise and Beth enjoyed seeing the story come together as they collated data and liaised with the Recovery Team to confirm  sightings. It will be very satisfying to see the final report completed which will confirm these animals still occur over all suitable habitats on the property we surveyed, and that they appear to be healthy and thriving. And, of course, to impress on ‘all players’ the need to protect this habitat!

Owing to access difficulty and other problems beyond their control, the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, contracted to do weed-spraying under our Grant Deed, could not complete the scheduled second spraying of lantana.  It was unfortunate that the best spraying times didn’t coincide with dry tracks and the contractor’s availability. Meanwhile, until January’s rain interrupted us, we have begun putting up cameras on the Unallocated State Land (USL) at Mutarnee . So far there have been 3 trips, deploying 17 cameras and two newly classified Kreffts gliders (Petaurus notatus, formerly sugar gliders) recorded but no Mahoganies … yet!

IMG_3982Flying-foxes conversations 2: We are continuing to maintain useful dialogue with TCC staff with regard to management of the roost in Dan Gleeson Gardens. Reports from carers late last year had us concerned that tactics to keep the bats away from high-use areas of the Gardens were taking too high a toll on the mothers and their still flightless babies; however dawn visits found these activities had been considerably moderated. A meeting with Council last week was positive, allowing us to exchange information and views in a cordial atmosphere. At Council’s invitation we have also been involved in critiquing interpretive material currently in preparation, and are pleased to see they have been receptive to our recommendations and comments. On the down-side there is no prospect of Townsville developing even a basic management plan for urban roosts any time soon, yet this is so essential in creating that all-important transparency of Council policy and intentions in relation to this important and often controversial issue.

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Liz Downes says thanks. Photo Pam Smith/Jo Brasher.

On a personal note:  I would like to thank the many, many people who sent me their congratulations on being named the 2020 Queensland Volunteer of the Year last November. To say I was shocked to be even in the running for this award, let alone winning it, would be a major understatement. I could only think of all the amazing people who give their time to community groups, causes and individuals and conclude that, of the 147 nominees, at least 140 of them would have been more deserving. But, as a wise woman once advised, in such circumstances,”Just say ‘thank you'” – and then do the best you can to live up to the honour. That wise woman was of course Margaret Thorsborne AO (humble recipient of many honours) who I was proud to acknowledge as my mentor and inspiration, as she was and still is, to so many in the conservation movement. I also acknowledge the support of past and present members of the Branch committee with a specific grateful nod to our secretary Beth and ex-treasurer Jane – many of our newer members won’t know that these two kept the Branch ‘ticking over’ in the dormant years when other key members (including myself) had moved away or were engaged with other commitments. Without them, there would have been no Townsville Branch to revive in 2012.

And, since the award also recognised another type of conservation (of local history and material culture through the JCU Mabo Library), here’s a shout-out to the wonderfully supportive and enthusiastic Special Collections librarian, Bronwyn McBurnie. Do hope some of you made it to the 50 Treasures exhibition at Perc Tucker before it closed – but you can still view the treasures online. The downside of all this was having to do a LOT of media, something I am never comfortable with but, apart from the horror of having a camera in my face, all the interviewers from TV stations and ABC radio were delightful, friendly and seemed genuinely interested. I can assure you that any reports that a pool room is now under construction at my place are . . .  FAKE NEWS!! 

PIPs fly past Hinchinbrook. Photo Nina Dawson.

PIPs fly past Hinchinbrook. Photo Nina Dawson.

PIP Reports: Three trips to North Brook island to monitor the Torres Strait /Pied imperial-pigeon colony have been completed for the 2020-21 season with the fourth and final count for the year scheduled for 9th February. How fortunate that COVID-19 did not extend its disruptive fingers into our region and break the consistency of these counts – often postponed but never abandoned – which have continued without interruption since 1965. The October count of 17,955 birds was unexpectedly high but, this was not maintained in the  following months. The numbers recorded in November (21,227) and December (21,459), when taken with totals from the last few years, show the population plateauing around the low to mid twenty-thousands – roughly 10,000 less than pre-Yasi records. Next week’s count will undoubtedly yield a much lower figure as many birds will have already departed for their ‘winter’ home in the New Guinea lowlands. Anyone wishing to receive copies of these trip reports, or further details about the trips, please contact us.

Our Society at Work – through its Branches. Each year individual branches of our Society submit a report of their activities during the previous financial year.  A compilation of these reports, with accompanying photos, is presented at the Society’s AGM and gives a wonderful overview of the work of branches around Queensland and I encourage members to browse through the contents. You might find ideas there that prompt you to think “Why don’t we do this?” – and if so, please let us know.

NB Copyright of all images in this post resides with the photographers. Pease contact us for permission to use.


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