June 12 - 18, 2016: Issue 267

 Pygmy Possum Project: Nesting Box Update


An Eastern Pygmy Possum

Pygmy Possum Project: Nesting Box Update

Finally a newsflash -  Sarah Gardner and Lyn Hughes have just reported not one but two nesting boxes filled with leaves. More on this when we get a nest ID and photos.

In the meantime happy reading

The ongoing story of the Pygmy Possum Project continues to charm and delight local project people…

May 9: Taronga Zoo Trip

The trip to the Nocturnal House at Taronga Zoo finally took place on May 9. Nine of us presented ourselves for the red carpet treatment starting with guest parking following by a personally escorted ‘behind the scenes’ with Zoo Keepers Wendy Gleen, Rob Dockerill, Paul Davies and Trent Russell.

Rob kicked proceedings off by producing some very friendly Feathertail Gliders from the Zoo’s breeding program - only 1 of 2 such breeding programs in Australia. To say these tiny marsupials delighted us is an understatement.

They ran up our arms, scurried over necks, clambered from shoulder to shoulder, and buried their long tongues into Banksia brushes to extract the nectar.

Feathertail-Glider licking the nectar from a banksia flower

Paul took us through the excellent breeding program results to date while fellow Keeper Paul Davies offered us a wonderful Feathertail Glider yarn about Feathertail Glider lover - John Cleese, Paul’s overwhelming desire to own John’s watch, and a silver 5 cent coin. Fabulous Aussie storytelling at its best!

Wendy then took us on a back-door tour of the Nocturnal House. This involved feeding the echidnas…

Joining the Potoroos & Squirrel Gliders in their house…

And providing a friendly shoulder for the Black-footed tree rat from Northern Queensland…

In short we were overwhelmed by the hospitality. The peanut was the only thing not on offer…

A huge thanks to the Zoo and the Nocturnal House Keepers for a wonderful visit.

March - June: After Dark Program

Our new wildlife monitoring camera, funded by a second Greater Sydney Local Land Services Mini-grant, has been doing the rounds of the Bays. Following the success of the inaugural ‘After Dark’ family program over the January holiday, this grant is funding a trial of an on-going, community-wide program.

The Mini-grant also funded tripods for all three cameras to make positioning them in situ easier; and three SD cards and a reader to establish a community archive of all photos from the Pygmy Possum Monitoring Program as well as the Community ‘After Dark’ Program.

Lastly GSLLS funded two new Sugar Glider nesting boxes. More about this in the next update.

‘After Dark’ test pilots to date have been Harry & Bernadette (Rocky Point), Penny and Simon (SW Lovett Bay) Don & Heather (Rocky Point) Andrew & Nina (Coasters Retreat) Susie and Ron (Elvina Bay) Rouge & Pete (Rocky Point) Candy Le Quay (Coasters Retreat) and Hazel & John (Rocky Point).

Camera results have been mixed but community interest remains high. Penny Gleen’s feedback was echoed by a number of recipients:

We loved having the camera. The kids were super excited about it. It's great to encourage those living on the fringe of the bush to be aware of the fauna '

Our report to GSLLS on the grant outcomes will be forwarded by the end of June, along with Lilian Wastell’s sketch of a Squirrel Glider.

The fully functioning program will be rolled on July 1. If you would like to book 2 weeks with the camera for your own backyard - email Jude James  now to avoid disappointment.

April - May: Nesting Box Action

Finally to the heart of our program. We’ve had quite a bit of action reported over these couple of months.

Coasters Retreat

Andrew Warden reported a Pygmy Possum nest in early January, and now in May the camera has revealed a visitor - possibly a Pygmy Possum.

Neighbour Candy Le Guay found a Feathertail Glider inside her house also in early May.

Morning Bay

Bronwyn Gould reported Feathertail Glider visitors in March - one of them an obvious gold-digger!

Little Lovett

Amina Kitching reported Pygmy Possum sightings in early March, both at Little Lovett and Rocky Point and then again in late April at Rocky Point.

Rocky Point

Mel Broughton heard those little feet on her roof again in February and got a camera up there.

That was followed by a Feathertail Glider nest and inhabitant in late March.

Also in March Rouge Hoffmann reported a nest and then recorded the occupant - a Feathertail Glider.

In May Hazel Sullivan found a packed Feathertail Glider nest, then captured a Feathertail Glider on camera, and then another visitor. Identification is difficult, however, it could be another Feathertail Glider or an opportunistic Pygmy Possum house hunting.

Also in May Sue Cooke reported a Feathertail Glider inside her home. She took the little marsupial back outside and reports that it happily dashed off into the night with no seeming ill effects.

Finally Susie Thiessen has reported a Pygmy Possum nest in her nesting box.

We now have a camera on this nesting box and hope to add to our photo collection of this elusive little marsupial.

The Bigger Picture

Thanks to our regular monitoring a picture of small marsupial activity on the lower Western Shores is slowly emerging. This is valuable information, and not just as a record of their presence and movements.

Emma Griffen from Northern Beaches Council is in the process of establishing an Eastern Pygmy Possum register for all of Pittwater. Among other things, this information will be very useful for the Rural Fire Service when planning the size and shape of future control burns. To this end Emma has kindly offered to come over to our shores and record the GPS of all our nesting boxes. Now that’s what we call Council service!

Finally - many thanks to the PPP people for continuing to monitor and report on nesting box activity. It continues to be a very entertaining ride. 

By Lesley Stevens, Pygmy Possum Liaison Officer (provisional) aka PPLOP - Rocky Point Bush Care Group



 Eastern Pygmy Possum, in Pilliga Forest, NSW, - photo by Phil Spark