June 7 - 13, 2020: Issue 453


Margaret Woods

Sydney Wildlife volunteer Margaret Woods with a Blue-tongue lizard currently in her care after a dog attack.

Margaret Woods is a Professional with a Sydney University BEc, Deakin Uni CPA, and post grad qualifications in Insurance who has worked for decades in her field at the highest level.

An involvement with the BirdLife Australia Powerful Owl project for years led to meeting Sydney Wildlife volunteers and her daughter becoming involved as a volunteer, at 18 years of age, and herself and her husband becoming a 'Sydney Wildlife Carer Family' as a result, with Margaret undertaking the training too.

Her dedication to the Warriewood Wetlands, the Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment and a passion for saving our wildlife - in our area, on the South Coast during the recent bushfires, and as part of the Sydney Wildlife members who organised to send supplies and equipment to the RSPCA team on Kangaroo Island in South Australia in February 2020 can be seen in an earlier childhood love of Australian wildlife. 

An interest in Photography in High School, followed and developed ever since, has led to Margaret capturing and creating the most amazing images. Her portraits of wildlife, of landscapes and of people support and enrich the work of these local organisations she is a part of. Not only that, they are placing on the record what wildlife is where and when it is there. 

These are wonderful photos - they allow people to see up close birds they may have only heard, or see the individual characters of wildlife rescued. Her landscapes allow viewers to dwell among dawn mists, see sunrises and sunsets reflected on water or trees. 

Margaret is among the many thousands of residents in our area with a love for our birds and for bird photography. Some of her great images run as the June 2020 Artist of the Month.

When asked how she does it, Marg replied

'the trick is the angle and to look for... to see the art in the photo'

Her works in this field are more than that too though. This week some insights into one of our community members who 'puts back' and by doing so is looking after what is here for those yet to come.

Where and where were you born?

In Melbourne on December 25th 1957, my Nan's birthday.

Where did you grow up – and what did you do for fun as a youngster growing up?

I grew up in a semi-rural area. We had the Governor of Pentridge house as our Nan's house and we had a lot of open land. There was the last Dairy farm at Coburg was across the road. I used to catch the bus to school - the bus stop was a cement block in a paddock on the main road. We had dogs, cats as pets but they were working dogs too.  We went out in the paddocks and orchard and had to be home before it got dark. We had guns, Rifles and Shotguns. Plum fights. We had a lot of visiting wildlife; snakes, lizards, birds, frogs. I didn’t do Biology at school because they cut up frogs.

Where did you go to school?

Coburg State Public School (primary) and then Newlands High School at North Coburg. High School was next to the Bluestone College - Pentridge  Prison. The last person to be hanged in Australia was hanged at that prison; Ronald Ryan in 1967. I visited the prison as part of my law studies at high school. The prisoners put on a play ( about being framed ) but they stopped the visits after one prisoner stabbed a guest.

What did you want to do when you left school?

I wanted to be a lawyer in consumer affairs or legal aid. I studied the outcomes of unfair working conditions especially in the country; basically no protection for workers and people in general asbestos, dad was a senior executive officer in public service and a union rep.  

What did you end up doing when you left school?

I was pleased to be one of four kids from my year at school to get into Uni. I started BEc at Monash University full time, a long commute, ended up borrowing boyfriends car, then halfway through first year had to get a job and joined the Public Service at the ATO. I was a quick worker, did my days work in the first two hours then wandered around annoying people. Funniest part was phone enquiries and being on the counter enquiries. Got promoted. Got engaged then married to my boyfriend, he was in Air Force so he was posted to the RAAF Base at Glenbrook. Our honeymoon was the trip up to Sydney, we had a married quarters in Glenbrook.   

I transferred my degree to USyd and continued my studies part time while working full-time. I graduated with a BEc. I later did my CPA through Deakin Uni.  A bit later I studied at night and completed a certificate in Insurance from UTS and ended up as a Fellow of the Insurance Institute, (I topped 4 of the 6 subjects so got the awards in cash). Transferred my job from ATO to another department; Housing and Construction, worked my way up the ladder, until they relocated to Chatswood.  I left the job but keep in touch with a number of these colleagues. We still meet up.  

I decided private industry was the go.  Worked for a multi-diversified Company that was acquired by a WA chartered accountants who lived in Monaco, they had raided it on the stock market - it was a family business (WR Carpenter- Island Traders) which they then stripped and sold. I left when they called me a clever little girl. 

I joined the Australian Branch of an international reinsurer as the Accountant in the finance team.  The assets of that reinsurance co. (no debt) = the loan facilities of the previous co.   I worked in finance and the underwriting area as a business development officer setting up direct insurance and eventually moved back to finance and became CFO for the Australian Branch. Sept 11 and Enron were the end for our Branch - too many losses in USA. I was privileged to have had so many opportunities with that Company. I have friends all over the world and we keep in touch, still have visits together.

My last job was with a chartered accounting firm I joined to prepare documents for international reinsurers. (Retrocession) reinsurance outwards, compliance, risk management, I was chairman of a board of one client for a while. I loved the work and my clients and peers. I go away on girls holidays with these ladies.

Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment – how did you get involved with this organisation?

I have attended a few of the forums over a number of years and my son was a guide on the Warriewood Wetland night walks a few times. I was at the meeting about the Mona Vale road upgrade and the committee mentioned needing help with Facebook so I was volunteered by my husband. This was last year before all the bushfires and getting busy with Sydney Wildlife.

What works do the FONLC do in our community?

They are a group that wishes to preserve the catchment for existing and future generations. They offer regular bushcare, bushwalks and hold very informative forums and night walks in the wetlands. They make submissions in relation to Council and State planning matters in line with the overall objectives. I am on the Committee and see it as a great organisation. It is a group that everyone in the catchment area should join and become involved in the plans for the area.  

The bushland around the lagoon catchment is the lungs of our area and the bush defines the Beaches as you drive along the Wakehurst Parkway to Narrabeen. It includes the Warriewood Wetlands and the Garigal NP area up to Belrose too. Think of all that green area, those delicate ecosystems, unique biodiversity, beautiful native plants and how much wildlife live or migrate through there. We have Koalas, Wallabies, Kangaroos, Antechinus, Flying fox, Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, so many birds. Many are rare and endangered. We are so lucky to have group like this working on protection of these areas. The question of appropriate development and land use. It would be good if the funds gathered could pay to reclaim areas from private interests before the bush is seen as an unlimited area for human activity. I post some photos and notices. At present all activities such as forums, bushwalks kayaking, bushcare are cancelled due to Covid19. But the group are still at work. They are passionate about retaining protection of bushland and questioning inappropriate developments in the catchment - please read more at www.narrabeenlagoon.org.au 

Sydney Wildlife – how did you first get involved in this organisation?

My daughter joined when she was 18, so we by default became a Sydney Wildlife family. I joined in August 2018 so that I learned a few things about wildlife care. Our family had already been a Powerful Owl Project volunteer for BirdLife Australia for many years and had met other Sydney Wildlife Volunteers through that. I thought it would help the wildlife to have another carer. Also makes a good team for rescues.

You are a trained Sydney Wildlife Carer – what is involved in doing course?

Firstly there is training pre Covid-19 it was a two day course.  This includes a lot of background on safety, PPE, wildlife requirements, legislation, organisation and government rules and requirements of our licence.  But a lot of time is spent learning about our “basic” regular rescues and the appropriate care of these injured wildlife. We catch an animal. We see how to set up cages, we learn about vegetation, we learn about food that can be fed to the wildlife. They are not pets and must be released back to the area they came from. 

Is there different training for caring for feathered, furred and scaled wildlife?

The basic course allows you to rescue wildlife (not some species though) and transport them to vets or other carers. Sydney Wildlife have a series of coordinators that advise and supervise. We can immediately care for adult possums, adult birds, but the babies, macropods, raptors, snakes, turtles, frogs require further training.

How do residents get some help if they find injured or at danger wildlife?

The best way to get our 100% volunteer service is to call our 24/7 365 day rescue phone service on 94134300.  You can report injured wildlife and talk with a volunteer who can provide advice and direction on what you should do next. It may be as quick as drop to vet or it may involve arranging volunteers to attend to rescue or transport wildlife. It is really important to do this promptly for the sake of the injured wildlife and it means the rescuer has the organisation making arrangements and support too.

What are the injuries our wildlife are sustaining and where? 

We have had a number of wombats and wallabies in rehabilitation from the catastrophic fires over the summer of 2019/20. These need to get big enough to be successfully released back to their homes. We are caring for them but they also need medicines, appropriate shelter and the proper food, which we rely on donations to buy. We are legally required to release them back to the area/location they came from as well, so a volunteer will drive them back using their vehicles and arrange release.    

Mitch and MJ at the Sydney Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility at Waratah Park - photo by Margaret Woods.

Many other joeys are in care from car strike and often their Mum is killed. The worst locations on the Northern Beaches continue to be the southern end of the Wakehurst Parkway where there are no facilities for wildlife to cross, and it is not fenced. So they cannot cross safely but they need to, to get to the wildlife corridor to access food or water. We also have an area of concern on the northern part of the Wakehurst Parkway that is no longer adequately fenced. 

We have had a lot of deaths on Mona Vale Road, the roadworks not being adequately fenced has not helped and this road has a tragic history of so many wildlife dying. It still does not have adequate fencing as promised. If you hit an animal or see one hit, please stop if it is safe to do so and check the pouch or call our phone line so we can get a volunteer there. There could be a baby in that pouch, and you will save a life. 

Along Forest Way, with the bottlebrush attracting so many lorikeets, has led to a huge number being killed when startled and flew down and across traffic. We need better ideas about vegetation.    

Sydney Wildlife volunteers have rescued turtles, snakes run over on the Wakehurst Parkway and in local Terrey Hills streets. Please look out for them. Owls hit by cars when they take off and fly slowly down the road.  We have lost a few powerful owls, one on Barrenjoey Road, Newport, to car strikes.  

So many birds come into care from window strike as there is so much more glass around. We had a kookaburra that had hit a window, it smelt so bad - it was a BBQ thief and its beak was full of impacted meat. It was overweight from the fatty food and unable to fly. After about 10 days at Taronga Zoo we were able to release it.  

Right along the beaches and lagoons we have seen pelicans that are trailing fishing line, and some that have fishing hooks still embedded in their skin. These should not be cut and discarded. We have seen Darters and Cormorants that also have the discarded fishing lines wrapped around their feet. Some other birds have rubbish wrapped on their necks or mouths, these are primarily disposable coffee cups and lids or the rings from the milk bottles. We try to catch these poor birds as they will eventually succumb to the injuries.

We are seeing a number of lizards squashed by bikes - usually this is fatal, so please look out for them. Don’t ride through wildlife corridors.  

Blue-tongues are bitten by dogs, often in backyards but many times because owners think its ok to take their dog into a wildlife protection zone.  Some blueys have severe wounds with lungs exposed, but you know that blue-tongues are very resilient and with correct care recover and are released to live in the wild. Water dragons can get stuck in pool filter cover they are looking for water and oops took the wrong exit.  

We have rescued birds in the wetlands with their heads stuck in thrown away soft-drink cans. Rubbish such as bottles and cans should be recycled and Sydney Wildlife Rescue is listed on selected Return and Earn machines until August 2020.

All of these animals need our care. We need your assistance to try to get these guys help. Call our phone number and ask for advice, if it is safe to do so, take the animal to a vet, please be assured that vets will treat wildlife at no cost to you. After the vet has assessed and treated the critter a call will go out for a wildlife carer. 

We look after the majority of the wildlife in our homes, the volunteers pay for the care, the cages, food, heating, bedding plus they supply their own protective clothing and equipment. 

All of these organisations are 100% volunteers – why is it important to you to ‘give back’?

I think I have skills that can help to educate people and help the wildlife who bring us such joy but who suffer and have no voice. I also think that our bush and wildlife are assets and should be valued. They are extremely valuable but don’t appear on the government accounts except as a pest or nuisance. The equation is wrong. The biodiversity offsets don’t work, can’t work because it is a smokescreen and was a good idea implemented badly.

Photography: you’re a brilliant photographer, your images are running as Artist of the Month for June 2020 – why/when did you commence taking photos?

I did photography at high school, but I didn’t have equipment for many years. My first camera was when we went to USA and these were disposable panorama and an Olympus. I got more interested but was not able to buy a good camera for many years. My brother is a keen photographer.  My father-in-law was a photographer too. My husband’s family live near the Coorong in South Australia and so I got spoilt with choice there. So many birds; raptors, waterbirds, shorebirds, parrots, honey eaters, seals, penguins and beautiful landscapes.

What equipment do you use now; phone, camera? 

I have a basic phone but the trick is the angle and to see the art. I also have my original and a new Nikon DSLR plus some lenses. 

What are your favourite subjects to photograph?

Birds, macropods, snakes, lizards and landscapes. Plus people, always.  

Are you involved in any photographic groups? 

I share some photos on local Facebook groups, FONLC, Sydney Wildlife, Birding South Australia, Birds in Backyard, ARC craft Guild. 

What are your favourite places in our area and why?

Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong. I feel attached as it is so close and easy to get to. I also like Deep Creek, North Narrabeen, Turrimetta, Long Reef, North Head and Palm Beach. As most are wildlife areas I like all of these better when people obey the signs.  

What is your ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase that you try to live by?

Keep friends who make you happy. 

Always try hard and look for the Art in the photo.

Please Help Sydney Wildlife Rescue: Donate Your Cans And Bottles And Nominate SW As Recipient

You can Help Sydney Wildlife help Wildlife. Sydney Wildlife Rescue is now listed as a charity partner on the return and earn machines in these locations:

  1. Pittwater RSL Mona Vale
  2. Northern Beaches Indoor Sports Centre NBISC Warriewood
  3. Woolworths Balgowlah
  4. Belrose Super centre
  5. Coles Manly Vale
  6. Westfield Warringah Mall
  7. Strathfield Council Carpark
  8. Paddy's Markets Flemington Homebush West
  9. Woolworths Homebush West
  10. Bondi Campbell pde behind Beach Pavilion 
  11. Westfield Bondi Junction car park level 2 eastern end Woolworths side under ramp
  12. UNSW Kensington
  13. Enviro Pak McEvoy street Alexandria.

Every bottle, can, or eligible container that is returned could be 10c donated to Sydney Wildlife.

Every item returned will make a difference by removing these items from landfill and raising funds for our 100% volunteer wildlife carers. All funds raised go to support wildlife.

It is easy to DONATE, just feed the items into the machine select DONATE and choose Sydney Wildlife Rescue. The SW initiative runs until August 23rd.

Powerful Owl huge talons (our largest owl and Apex predator)