2018/19 update

There have been several major activities during the past 12 months:

  • Maintenance of swamp mahogany trees planted in 2018
  • Revegetation of targeted areas in zone 3
  • Eradication of weed issue and removal of area of unsafe fencing, providing a wildlife-friendly way to move on and off property
  • Maintenance and checking of nesting boxes

22 nesting boxes were strategically placed on the property with consultation with Ross Goldingay (Southern Cross Uni), and as per application in 2017/18.

An endoscopic camera was purchased to allow low-invasive checking of boxes as owner contribution to the project in 2017/18.

 A wildlife monitoring camera was purchased to track activity in nesting boxes identified as containing squirrel glider.  This purchase was an owner contribution to the project.

Monitoring of boxes is conducted weekly from the outside only – observing presence of spider webs across the openings or presence of leaves inside opening, indicating nesting activity.

The boxes were monitored by endoscopic camera 4 times during the year.

An important learning is that we need to schedule more checking times in advance, and targeting during the most probably breeding and young-raising times.  We had a couple of times where we found it hard to get mutually convenient time slots, so securing these in advance will solve this next year.

Weed control is an ongoing activity that is informed by the property management plan and conducted by both paid professionals and the property owner on a regular basis.

The property is divided into 4 zones due to differences in soil and vegetation types.  The weed issues are different in each zone and so each zone is approached accordingly.

Weed activities included hand pulling, cut and paint, spot spraying as per indications in plan.

Planting activities included 150 mixed species sedges and flowering native shrubs suitable for lorikeet and glider feeding. 

Maintenance of areas worked on during year one were conducted.

Nesting box monitoring no. 1

Report background

The boxes have been out and left completely undisturbed for six months.

A wireless inspection camera was purchased to provide the least disturbance during monitoring.

All boxes are identified by GPS location (see map for full details).  22 boxes were monitored.

The squirrel glider will happily breed in boxes fairly low to the ground - here we see a box being inspected to see if there is any sign of it being used by gliders for breeding
The squirrel glider will happily breed in boxes fairly low to the ground.

Results

4 boxes contained only the original wood shavings – no signs were in evidence that any animals have been in or out.

1 box contained no wood shaving but had a large load of black ants.

2 boxes contained snakeskin remnants

1 box had a squirrel glider inside.  When the ladder was placed against the trunk of the tree it startled the glider which exited the box and fled swiftly up the tree.

0 boxes contained an actual completed nest or young gliders or lorikeets or eggs.

17 boxes contained a sizeable volume of eucalyptus leaves, often being bunches of leaves joined at the stems.  These leaves could not have fallen or blown in through the box opening.  Animals must be bringing these into the box, suggesting there is a reasonable amount of interest in the boxes.

Video report

Equipment and processes

The wireless camera performed well for inspecting inside dark boxes.

For nesting boxes that are low to the ground, the operator was able to stand on the ground and inspect.  However for around half the boxes, the length of the camera wire was insufficient, and the operator still needed to stand on a ladder.

The placement of the ladder against the tree caused one squirrel glider to exit the box.

What we learned.

We have come away from this first monitoring with many questions which is a good outcome.  Some of these questions will be answered by researching, some by further monitoring sessions and some by asking experts.  Information gathered and learned will continue to be posted on this blog.

We discovered that it will be well worth investing in an extendable pole arm for the wireless camera to avoid using ladders in the future.  There were two reasons for the benefit of this.  Firstly the more distance we can maintain from the box, the less we will disturb any wildlife nesting inside.  Secondly, avoiding the use of ladders completely will make monitoring a safer procedure, and avoid having to physically carry a ladder around the entire property.

We discovered that it is valuable to have the second person already zoomed in and videoing the box before the first person makes contact with the tree or box in order to catch evidence of any animals escaping the box.  This arose when a squirrel glider made a hasty exit from a box and all we got was one blurred photographic image.

I feel that it would be of great benefit to add a motion detection camera to the property and install it for one month at a time facing the entrance to nesting boxes to discover what kind of activity is occurring.  The boxes selected will be strategically selected according to those that appear to have the most activity from this monitoring, combined with having a clear entrance and location to mount the camera nearby.