News From The Nesting Box January 2018
News From The Nesting Box January 2018The headlines called it ‘Australia’s Weird Winter‘. And it certainly was. On the lower Western Shores of Pittwater we experienced record low rainfall and a huge leaf drop. But under our spotted gum canopy those resilient little marsupials still came knocking…
First sighting of the season was a Feathertail Glider prowling over the nesting box at the back of Hazel Sullivan’s north facing Lovett Bay property. Hazel tells us there was no subsequent sign of a nest - but at least they know the box is there.
The next sighting was on one of Bronwyn Gould’s nesting boxes in Morning Bay.
This little Feathertail Glider is sitting right over the entrance but once again no nest was built. Others also checked it out - among them an overly optimistic bush rat.
However, once again there was no evidence of any nesting activity inside the box. Clearly, as Bronwyn commented, this seemed to be the year for marsupial tyre kickers.
However in June someone actually built a nest in a box up the back of my property. Ecologist Alf Britton thought it could be either a Pygmy Possum or a Feathertail Glider.
A week later our cameras captured the nest builder
In the meantime, back in July an Antechinus nest appeared in my box on the side path.
In the meantime Rocky Point resident and builder Pete Cumming shared a photo of a nest in Don and Heather McLeay’s roof again on the south east side of Rocky Point.
In September came the Morning Bay team of Bronwyn Gould and Jan Jobson with a gruesome but intriguing discovery.
This is the first recorded sighting of a Sugar Glider on our shores in European times (that we know about) so it’s a very precious find indeed. Bronwyn has uploaded the discovery to the Atlas of Living Australia.
In the same month Monique and Mali Stidwill snapped a Pygmy Possum having a snooze in one of the Sugar Glider Squad nesting boxes up on the escarpment.
And now another warning - this next story is also about a Dead Thing.
Alan Yuille and Alan Hill made a second gruesome discovery inside one of their pots. A Pygmy Possum about the length of a biro had ventured inside and, unable to get out again, sadly drowned.
However, the discovery was also of great interest. The Allans live below the escarpment in Elvina Bay - a well-known Powerful Owl beat. We had presumed that our small marsupials stayed well away from this spot. But now we know they do come in search of food and a warm place to stay - a very encouraging thought for our Elvina Bay Boxes.
Andrew and Nina Warden also reported an October sighting from Coasters Retreat.
In the meantime I finally think I know where that Feathertail Glider I found in my living room and the little baby FTG found on my back deck might have come from.
Also in November we set up one of our cameras on Box 17 - the one with a Feathertail Glider nest in it. We now have over 400 photos capturing all the activity over the past 8 weeks of a very busy nesting box. And, as we settle into the New Year, the Gliders show no signs of leaving anytime soon.
PHD candidate Kobe Martin
Regular readers of the Nesting Box News will remember Kobe Martin and her discovery and pursuit of Feathertail Glider vocalisations and dialects. Kobe tells us she is still finalizing all the data from the Taronga Zoo and Rocky Point recordings, however she is looking at publication in February.
We wish her all the best for her academic future and will continue to offer assistance in any future FTG research she might undertake.
Other Local Wildlife Visitors
Some time ago local Western Shores weekender and busy GP, Bronwyn Gould, decided to become a carer with Sydney Wildlife. This means that every weekend a ‘zoo’ arrives in Morning Bay in an assortment of containers. Here are just a few of Bronwyn’s charges over the last couple of months.
Our Pygmy Possum incident in Elvina Bay highlights the need for us all to try to provide water for our small marsupials as well as emptying water out of pot plants containers after rain. Jude James points out that if you put some rocks in the bottom of the water bowl - it allows those smaller animals to get in and out of the bowl to drink. Alf Britton also recommends stones or sticks that can be climbed to safety.
And as Bronwyn’s next series of photos suggest - its not just the usual mob of birds that avail themselves of a thoughtfully provided bowl or pool.
The Pygmy Possum Program Speaking Circuit
Unbeknownst to us - our Pygmy Possum Project has been attracting the attention of other bushcare groups, Council staff and state agencies. Back in 2015 we spoke to a Greater Sydney Local Land Services Regional Forum about our Project. Last year we were asked by GSLLS to speak to Central Coast landowners about our camera program. This November Jude James and I fronted up again - this time to a Regional Forum for Council Volunteer Supervisors to speak about the growth of the project and various directions our project had taken since its inception.
The message from us is always simple. Everything flows from the interest and participation of the wider community. We also tell them the things that worked and the things that haven’t. Despite this, our audiences to date have refused to believe anything other than each and every one of you are incredibly aware, fabulous, human beings, and that we are an exemplar community.
Just so you know…
Cromer Daycare joins the Project
Finally the latest news is that a Cromer Day-care Centre, Goodstart Early Learning Centre has joined our Pygmy Possum Project.
Over the past two years Centre Director, Amanda Wilson has been bringing sustainability to day-care operations and to the classroom as an educational goal. Waste has been a big focus and last year the kids set up and planted out a vegetable garden so that they can all understand the process and joy of growing fresh food, healthy eating and the concept of food miles.
Our Pygmy Possum Project caught her eye as the next step. By the time we arrived the kids had done their research and had covered all the walls with Pygmy Possum artwork.
‘ To say they are excited to be involved in this is an understatement’ said Centre Director Amanda Wilson. “The children have been engaged right from the start of the project’.
I know I speak for you all in welcoming the Goodstart Early Learning Centre on board. We will be staying in touch with Amanda and will obviously report any activity.
And on that happy note all that remains is to wish everyone the best for the New Year and we look forward to hearing about every little footfall in 2018.
By Lesley Stevens
Pygmy Possum Liaison Officer (provisional) aka PPLOP
Rocky Point Bush Care Group
SUGAR GLIDERS IN THEIR SIGHTS by Lesley Stevens - local Year 5 and Year 7 Student Citizen Scientists - August 2016
News From The Nesting Box May 2017: THEY’RE BACK! by Lesley Stevens - May 2017
Pygmy Possums In Their Sights (2017) by Lesley Stevens - November 2017