With all the animals that are injured or orphaned, either due to human intervention or natural predation and sickness, there may come a time when a species population declines to the point of no longer being sustainable. There needs to be a large number of animals to guarantee genetic diversity for perpetuation of a species. Should we be keeping highly endangered animals in zoos just to preserve a species which will never become a strong population?
Nothing worthwhile is easy. There is so much planning setting up a wildlife group that will take in injured, sick and orphaned native animals. This journey began 6 months ago after much thought. I gathered together a group of friends who were wildlife carers and they accepted my proposal. From there the work began.
Next we had to create documents such as a constitution, membership forms, a data base had to be considered and general brochures. TRAINING - the all important happening before we can care for animals!
The RSPCA ACT approached us to form a collaborative partnership. RSPCA would like to run a wildlife hospital and would like us to care for the animals through rehabilitation to release. This sounds easy but there are a lot of details to sort out and to write a Memorandum of Understanding so we know where we stand and the RSPCA knows where they stand.
We have such as great committee, everyone is enthusiastic.
Having done much of this work, we finally ran two orientation / training days in November. These days covered topics such as how we would be working in the ACT community, and with the ACT Government and RSPCA. Then a bit about different species that we care for. 40 people attended the training and we had our carers!!
We have 10 carers with equipment and aviaries ready to go.
Aviaries are hard to come by. We continue to trawl the sales and newspapers looking for aviaries.
Telstra has donated a phone for us to use, we found a good plan with Amaysim and we are off and running. Unfortunately this all came together at Christmas time so we did not widely advertise the phone number.
We are receiving animals from the RSPCA and a couple of veterinary practices. All our carers with aviaries are full up. As more carers come online (so to speak) we will advertise further. It is not a good look to be overburdened with animals and not be able to give them the best care.
FROM SMALL BEGINNINGS.............................
Our wonderful committee and their contacts have been so supportive. Chris helped with the design of our brochure, and Judy has done lots of work with the training registrations and follow-ups. Everyone else is there to do what needs to be done. Thanks guys.
And of course we value our sponsors and donors. Without monetary assistance we would not be able to feed the animals and purchase equipment and aviaries.
Most of all it is the VOLUNTEERS, in all capacities, that make ACT Wildlife tick. Thanks to all.
On Friday 19th October the annual exhibition was opened. Because I am President of the Society I gave a speech. There was a huge crowd at the Belconnen Arts Centre. There are three concurrent exhibitions in their artspace: Handwritten, Handbound; ReConnection; and A Touch Naive.
We spent some of Tuesday organising our pieces into 'categories' of sorts suitable for hanging and we created a frieze from 12 x 12 cm art squares submitted by Calligraphy Society members.
During the rest of the week some CCS members, bookbinders and staff from BAC set up the rest of the exhibition.
It is a great combination: calligraphy and bookbinding. As I said in my speech the two crafts rely on each other. Calligraphers write in the handbound books.
Sunday 21st October: I visited the CCS/Bookbinders again and demonstrated some Celtic Capitals.
In truth Pam and I did more talking than writing and we talked to visitors.
Vicki, from the Bookbinders set up her table to demonstrate some bookbinding and we ended up doing more talking!!
3 calligraphic pieces have been sold.
Funny thing though ...... I wanted to buy Carols Butterflies piece, went to the front desk, and a lovely lady had just paid for them! #*/!@#% At least it has found a good home.
Myself and friends, Liz and Ann, went for a lovely walk this morning in 4 degrees but with a chill factor of 'many more minus degrees'. The wind was coming straight off the snow.
Although we were looking for birds we were very pleasantly surprised to photograph a Platypus. It is perfect platypus habitat, deep water and steep sides suitable for burrowing.
What a shame my class has come to an end for this semester. For our final class we did some tidying up of assignments and then went for a walk on Bruce Ridge, not far from the CIT. (followed by a yummy BBQ)
It is so hard to photograph small birds in amongst the trees with Automatic focus on my camera. Must get out and practise the manual focus.
Our class list of birds gathered a few new species:
A White-throated Treecreeper doing what treecreepers do - gleen insects from the underneath of branches, amongst the bark, and trunks of trees by hopping up the branch.
This Grey Fantail was also flitting around the tree trunk,
In the lower centre of the photo is a Buff-rumped Thornbill. These tiny birds are so hard to photograph in amongst the bushes.
Can you find it?
The wattles were starting to flower too.
We were expecting to talk about lizards and instead got to see a Diamond Python.
Of course they are not indigenous to the ACT but our guest speaker, Mandy, brought
Eric in to visit us.
What surprised me was that Diamond Pythons have lovely patterning on the top of
their bodies and underneath is quite pale.
We have several different snakes in the ACT and all are venomous. The most commonly seen snakes are the Eastern Brown Snake and the Red-bellied Black snake.
We were so busy listening to Mandy about reptiles we forgot to have a look at the resident CIT Blue tongue lizards and Eastern Long Neck Turtles.
This shingleback is from western NSW. It has evolved to have different colouring so it is more camouflaged in the red soil country. The shinglebacks in the ACT are black.
So far you have seen only non-indigenous to the ACT reptiles.
Check out the photos below for reptiles that have come into care
in the ACT.
Some terrible things happen to lizards that live in gardens. This little fellow was the victim of a whipper snipper accident.
The class learnt about amphibians. The only amphibians in Australia (native) are Anura (frogs and toads)
In class we listened to Martin, from the Southern Catchment group. He told us about how to care for captive frogs. Most frogs coming into care are the 'banana box' or 'passenger' frogs that come from Queensland and Northern NSW in fruit and vegetable boxes. Because of the threat from the Chytrid fungus they cannot be sent home and cannot be released in the ACT because of the threat of infecting our native indigenous frogs. They cannot go home because they may have become infected with Chytrid during their travels. Martin, and other wildlife carers, care for these frogs long term. They settle into captivity very well as long as you can keep up the supply of crickets.
Local frogs are very rarely picked up for care as most injuries are overwhelming and they do not survive. They are caught by cats or dogs or hurt by shovels and garden forks.
Last week when i was photographing the beautiful autumn colours I happened to see some of the more common birds in Tuggeranong Town Park.
I had never seen a male Magpie lark (pee wee) posturing to another male before. I wonder if it is a territorial thing.
Can you tell the difference between the male and female pee wee?
The female is on the left (below) and the male is on the right.
The magpies were feeding. Check out this lovely worm.......
The female magpie is on the left and the male on the right. Check out
the nape of the neck, the male is snowy white and the female shows
Being at the lake of course there were water birds. I saw Eurasian coots, Black Pacific ducks, Wood ducks, Dusky moorehens and Purple Swamphens. there was also a Black swan
I asked my students to make a list of birds in their suburb or travels around Canberra, and this is what they came up with: 43 native species and 6 feral species. Good job!
I have been pretty busy lately and it suddenly occurred to me that autumn is nearly over.
Last Tuesday I raced out with my camera and snapped some beautiful autumn colours. Our Australian native trees are not deciduous but Canberra has many places with exotic deciduous trees.
i did not have to go very far to see some brilliant colours, but in other places the bright reds are turning to brown.........I almost missed it.
Here are a few photos I took.
Wow, there is so much to talk about. Australian wildlife is so diverse and so interesting. I have worked with wildlife as a wildlife carer and shelter manager for many years and now I am concentrating on education.
Just last week I took my class to the Australian National Wildlife Collection at Gungahlin CSIRO in Canberra.
Every described bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian is there. We found out that there are three different ways to preserve animals:
Skins: where animals are basically emptied out and stuffed with cotton wool ! However, it is a bit more detailed than that. The organs, big muscles and some bones, and the brain and eyes are removed. The idea is to have very little tissue that will rot. What is left will just dry out. Then carefully stuff it with cotton wool so that the shape is the same as the live animal. Sew it up and arrange the animal so when it dried it looks as normal as possible. To achieve this simply wrap the body in light fabric until it is dry.
a female satin bower bird drying after being preserved as a skin
All birds are kept in a climate controlled room inside huge metal cabinets, each with drawers for smaller birds or shelves for larger birds. It was quite cold in that room.
Every specimen has a tag which describes its common name, scientific name, where and when it was found, and a description of its 'soft parts' (colour, texture etc) because after death these things are different.
Spirit specimens: The second method of preserving specimens is by simply putting them into 70% alcohol. This preserves the whole animal.
The room housing the spirit collection was very, very cold, but that was because it was very, very cold outside. (Remember this is Canberra in May. It was 2.5 degrees as I was driving to work and there had been a frost.) The air in this room is circulated constantly with the outside air to prevent any alcohol fumes building up and causing an explosion. that would totally destroy the whole collection! Specimen bottles were kept on shelves in compactor cabinets.
Skeleton: The third method of preserving is removing everything and leaving the skeleton. Of course without the tendons and tissues there is nothing to hold the bones together. Dermestid beetles are used to eat all the bits left after the specimen has had most of the tissue and organs removed. They eat the leftovers and very kindly leave the bones behind. Any time you see a very dead animal on the side of the road you can turn it over and see little beetles and grubs on the carcass. These are dermestids. Luckily they only eat dead flesh.
The National Wildlife Collection also sends tissue specimens to researchers all over the world.
Have you ever thought about the drawings in Field Guides for identification of wildlife? Artists visit the collection and draw from real animals.