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Volume 10, Issue 2

MALLEE

MALLEE
MALLEE
MALLEE

update

10 Year Celebrations

This year marks the Murray Mallee Local Action Planning Association's 10 year anniversary. To help the LAP celebrate this momentous occasion we are inviting all Murray Mallee landholders and their families to attend our day long celebrations.

The event will be held at the Perponda Sports Club on either Saturday the 7 or 14 of September (dates to be confirmed at the end of July). The day will start at 12:30 pm with a fully catered B.B.Q lunch. There will be memorabilia displays showcasing the achievements of the MMLAP over the past 10 years and a number of short presentations following lunch.

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At around 2 pm the group will be heading off on a tour to the Underground Bottle Tanks, before returning to the Perponda Sports Club around 4pm for afternoon tea and the close of the event.

Please R.S.V.P or register your interest to the Murray Mallee LAP for catering purposes on either 8531 2066 or 8531 3075.

What's inside Birds guiding habitat restoration in Murray Mallee Wedge-tailed eagle Coordinated pest control gets
What's inside
Birds guiding habitat restoration in
Murray Mallee
Wedge-tailed eagle
Coordinated pest control gets results
Calling SA's sheep “young guns”
Donna takes on new roles
Mallee Futures Stories
Join us on a visit to Gluepot Reserve
Revegetation workshop second of a
series
www.malleefutures.org.au
workshop second of a series www.malleefutures.org.au Government of South Australia D epartm ent for E nvironm

Government of South Australia

D epartm ent for E nvironm ent

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S o u t h

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Malleefowl mounds inactive

Au s t r a l i a n

M u r r a y - D a r l i n g

a s i n N a t u r a l

R e s o u r c e s

anagem ent B oard

Malleefowl monitoring in the SA Murray Darling Basin is undertaken by volunteers and coordinated by the Conservation Programs Unit, DEH in Berri. The Malleefowl are monitored by walking grids in the mallee and locating Malleefowl mounds (where they incubate their eggs). The breeding activity of the mounds is recorded and this information is entered into a national database.

and this information is entered into a national database. Over the 2007/08 season 18 grids were

Over the 2007/08 season 18 grids were monitoring, including 7 on Gluepot station. The numbers of active Malleefowl mounds is down on previous years (or remaining at zero). This is probably due to the drought, as like many birds, they tend not to breed in dry conditions with little food resources. No breeding at all was recorded north of the Murray River in SA. This is most likely due to drought.

Results did show that the birds are breeding at Peebinga and Karte. Thirteen active mounds were recorded here out of a total of 16 active mounds recorded in the entire survey. Good winter rains in 2007 are likely to have caused the favourable breeding conditions there. Further work is continuing in assembling fox baiting data for the monitored areas as well as rainfall data.

304 volunteer hours were generously given to do this monitoring, plus 120 hours spent resurveying two grids at Gluepot. More volunteers are needed for the surveys for 2008/09, and to keep rainfall measurements in the vicinity of Malleefowl grids. If you would like to be involved in Malleefowl monitoring or recording rainfall measurements within the grids contact the Bush Management Advisor Chris Grant in Berri 8595 2174.

Photo and article courtesy of DEH

Birds guiding habitat restoration in Murray Mallee

The Department for Environment and Heritage (DEH) and the Murray Mallee LAP

have been trialling a process in the northern Murray Mallee for collecting information

to

enable management priorities to be set to prevent further losses of species.

A

study conducted in 2006 and 2007 investigated the distribution of birds in relation

to

the remaining vegetation types in an area north of Billiatt and south of the Murray

River. Three reasonably distinct bird groups were distinguished amongst the vegetation types of that area (all with open mallee overstorey):

1) Southern Scrub-robin, Shy Heathwren and Inland Thornbill associated with patches of dense shrub understorey on deep sands; 2) Mallee Emu-wren, Striated Grasswren and Red-lored Whistler associated with Triodia understorey on shallow sands; and 3) Restless Flycatcher, Hooded Robin and Brown Treecreeper associated with very

open understorey on plains and swales with only occasional patches of shrubs.

on plains and swales with only occasional patches of shrubs. Government of South Australia D epartm

Government of South Australia

D epartm ent for E nvironm ent

a n d

S o u t h

B a s i n N a t u r a l

M anagem ent B oard

H e r i t a g e

Au s t r a l i a n

M u r r a y - D a r l i n g

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t r a l i a n M u r r a y - D a

Distribution information for the bird groups showed a strong pattern of decline in dune associated species. The Mallee Emu-wren, Striated Grasswren and Red-lored Whistler have completely disappeared from the study area and the Southern Scrub-robin, Shy Heathwren and Inland Thornbill have contracted to just one or two localities (depending on species) within the study area. In contrast, Restless Flycatcher, Hooded Robin and Brown Treecreeper remain widespread.

Nigel Willoughby is a Habitat Management and Restoration Ecologist and is trialling a process to assist setting management priorities for restoring and protecting landscapes

This information has been used to inform strategies to increase the amount of habitat available for the declining birds.

Small habitat restoration projects are planned for the Autumn 2008 planting season, and more substantial plans are being developed for future restoration. The aim is to restore the declining vegetation types to eventually see an improvement in the distribution and abundance of these birds.

(Article and photo courtesy of Department for Environment and Heritage)

Wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax)

The wedge-tailed eagle is Australia's largest bird of prey and one of the most powerful raptors in the world. Common throughout the continent, they prefer wooded and forested land and open country. At a metre long and with a wingspan of over 2 metres, it can be seen soaring on up- curved wings at altitudes up to 2,000 metres. The adults are dark in colour with a long, wedge- shaped tail and legs that are feathered all the way to the base of the toes. The immature birds are paler with golden or tawny highlights.

At breeding time, pairs of eagles circle high over their territories in a display of ownership

defending the area around their nests from other Wedge-tailed eagles. They build their nest in a prominent location (usually the tallest tree) with a good view of the surrounding countryside. However, if trees are absent, they will use small trees, shrubs, cliff faces and even the ground.

use small trees, shrubs, cliff faces and even the ground. Photo by Alan Fletcher The nest

Photo by Alan Fletcher

The nest is a large structure comprised of dead sticks lined with green leaves which are added regularly when young are present. Wedge-tailed eagles are sensitive to forestry operations with extensive clearing reducing nesting resources. If the pair are disturbed while they are preparing to lay eggs, they may abandon the nest.

Most eggs are laid in June- August in southern Australia; however, breeding times vary from location to location and from year to year according to the local availability of food. A clutch consists of one to three white eggs with varying amounts of reddish-brown spots and blotches. Both parents share in the duties of nest building, incubation and feeding the young. The chicks are born with a covering of white down; however, their survival rates depend on local conditions, including prey abundance and the amount of disturbance. The young birds fledge when they are 80-90 days old, but usually only one survives especially if food is scarce for the oldest and largest chick will kill and eat its smaller siblings.

Carrion is an important part of the birds' varied diet while live prey ranges in size from lizards to kangaroos. These birds favour

rabbits when they are available while reptiles are an important food source in arid areas. Pairs or groups of eagles may join forces

to attack large prey such as wallabies. Indirect poisoning through Dingo baits and pesticides continue to be a major hazard.

The belief that this eagle is a significant killer of lambs and sheep has led to its destruction in large numbers by farmers and hunters

in the past. A study by CSIRO into the deaths of 12,000 lambs clearly showed that with rare exception, eagles were not to blame.

Only 2% of lambs born had been killed by predators of which foxes were the main culprit. As most landholders know, the main cause of death in lambs is starvation and exposure to the elements resulting from the lack of bonding between the lamb and its mother. If the lamb carcass is relatively fresh, a simple examination can usually determine the cause of death.

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If birds are nesting on your property, try to protect the site by minimising disturbance in the area during nesting periods and

encourage regeneration of nesting habitat by fencing around those areas. If you think eagles are bothering your stock, contact the Department of Environment and Heritage for advice. The Wedge-tailed eagle is fully protected in South Australia and severe penalties apply to people found interfering with these magnificent birds.

Signs for landholders to look for on fresh lamb carcasses to determine cause of death:

Look for punctures or bruising from talons by skinning back the head and shoulders. No bruising means the lamb was dead anyway. Little bruising means it was near death and if there was considerable bruising means the lamb was active.

Check the hooves. If the lamb had not walked, a membrane should still cover them.

Check the lungs. If the lamb had breathed, it would be pink and spongy; if not, they will be a deep claret colour. Check its gut to see if it had drunk.

A healthy lamb will have solid white fat attached to its heart and kidneys. This fat is red and jelly-like in starving lambs.

A lamb covered in a bright yellow meconium died during or just after birth.

Sheep are an important component of the fox's diet.

The damage associated with foxes is:

removal of the tongue, lower jaw, and/or tail, the thighs and neck are commonly bitten, and occasionally, the chest and abdomen cavities are opened up.

Gayle Drabsch

References:

Egerton, L. (ed.), 2005, Encyclopedia of Australian Wildlife, Revised edition, Reader's Digest, Sydney. Falkenberg, I., 2007, Wedge-Tailed Eagles – Farmers Friends, unpublished. Frith. H.J. (Editor), 1976, Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds Reader's Digest Services Pty Ltd, 26-32 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010. Pizzey, G. & Knight, F., 2003, The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, 7th edition, HarperCollinsPublishers, Sydney. Australian Museum, 2003, Fact sheets: Wedge-tailed Eagle, http://www.amonline.net.au/factsheets/wedge_tailed_eagle.htm

Coordinated pest control gets results

Groups of landowners in the Mallee are getting together to coordinate their fox and rabbit control to increase the effectiveness

of their efforts in the local area. Currently the MMLAP, DEH and SAMDBNRM Board are working together with three groups

who are coordinating their pest control and have had successful outcomes in their local areas through this approach.

A total of 51 landholders are involved in these three groups giving considerable coverage and effective results. The Mantung

Maggea Land Management Group, Browns Wells Landcare Group and a group of landholders in the hundreds of Ettrick,

Burdett and Younghusband have covered a total of more than 100,000 hectares in their programs this year.

Many of the properties involved in the programs contain large areas of remnant vegetation with 32,000ha under Heritage Agreement. The coordination of pest control in these areas contributes, not only to decreasing the loss of lambs but to the protection of Mallee Fowl and other native fauna. It also assists in maintaining and improving local native plants through the reduction of damage caused by rabbits to understorey species and recruitment of young trees and shrubs. Over grazing disturbs cryptogams such as lichens, mosses and fungi and can lead to erosion of soils, especially when combined with the effects of warrens.

Results show that the coordination of pest control is not only more effective than individual property programs, but has economic benefits as warren ripping, mixing of poison oats and fox bait production can be done in bulk. Other benefits of this approach include sharing techniques and results with neighbours and learning, as a group, the most effective methods of pest control.

The Murray Mallee LAP, SAMDBNRM Board and DEH are keen to assist more groups like these in getting together to coordinate their pest control works. Funding and technical support is available (through NHT community grants, SAMDBNRM Board and Heritage Agreement funding) to assist groups in the Mallee to coordinate their rabbit and fox control.

For more information or support in coordinated pest control please contact; MMLAP mmlap@internode.on.net or 8531 2066, DEH (native vegetation/ heritage agreement) 8595 2174 NRM offices: Lameroo 8576 3400, Murray Bridge 8532 1432, Mid Murray 8564 5154, Berri (for Loxton Waikerie area) 8582 4477, Karoonda 8578 1493

Calling SA's sheep “young guns”

An exciting new initiative for South Australia's sheep industry is enlisting young producers to be part of “Young Guns”.

The South Australian Lamb Development Team (SALDT) has launched the project to establish a network of young sheep and lamb producer groups across the state. The groups will be based in key sheep regions around the state – Upper South East, Mallee, Yorke Peninsula, Riverland, Mid North, Eyre Peninsula and Pastoral.

SALDT consider this to be a very important initiative to protect the long- term future of South Australia's sheep industry. They have secured funding for the project from South Australia's Sheep Industry Fund, the Federal Government's AgFund and Primary Industries and Resources, SA. SALDT Chairman Glen Tilley says the industry needs to foster the development of its young producers and encourage them to stay in the industry.

“We are aiming to provide young producers the opportunity to network and socialise with other young people, explore their interests, develop their knowledge and business skills and encourage adoption of innovation,” Glen says. “Young people need to be challenged, stimulated and have the opportunity to become involved in the industry in a friendly and like-minded environment.”

the industry in a friendly and like-minded environment.” Young Guns local coordinators (left to right) Jaynelle

Young Guns local coordinators (left to right) Jaynelle LeFeurve – Yorke Penisula, Tiffany Munro – Upper SE, Jo Linn – Eyre Penisula, Hamish Dickson – Riverland & Pastoral, Casey Pfeiffer - Mallee (absent Kate Ridgway – Mid North).

”I would encourage any young sheep or lamb producer, aged 18-35 years, to

become involved. The opportunity is open to everyone, not only those people who have been involved in extension programs or industry groups before.”

A Field Day will be held in each region as the first event to kick off the Young Guns group. It will be an opportunity for young

people to meet, explore regional issues and determine interest in forming a young producer group. A series of five workshops are built into the first year of the program to help groups get started. Outside of this the opportunities are open to the group to set their own agenda to meet the individual needs of members. A local coordinator who will organise and facilitate meetings and manage the group's operational requirements will support the group.

Young producers who would like more information or to register their interest are encouraged to contact Heidi Goers, SALDT Executive Officer, 08 8303 7925, goers.heidi@saugov.sa.gov.au

The SA Lamb Development Team (SALDT) is a non-political, whole of industry-focused group that is enthusiastic and passionate about the lamb industry. In the long term the committee aims to help promote and build a cohesive, profitable, competitive and sustainable lamb industry that builds on the strengths of component sectors to provide a consistent quality food product, to both domestic and international consumers.

food product, to both domestic and international consumers. Donna takes on new roles Donna Nussio has

Donna takes on new roles

Donna Nussio has recently joined the Mallee Coorong NRM Group as a representative of the Department for Environment and Heritage (DEH). Donna brings valuable local knowledge from her four years working in the Murray (as Senior Ranger) and Riverland regions (as Senior Ranger, Community Programs). The group welcomes Donna and thanks her for the contributions she has already made.

Donna has also recently taken on the role of District Ranger for the Murray Mallee. The main focus of the role is to lead the range of DEH programs in the district both in parks and across the broader landscape in conjunction with other landowners and organisations. Donna can be contacted at; donna.nussio@saugov.sa.gov.au ph: 8576 3690 or mob: 428 103 783

Mallee Futures Stories

In recognition of the Murray Mallee LAPs 10 years of operation, the LAP has put together a CD package showcasing its longest running program the “Mallee Futures Program”.

The CD contains four landholder stories and details their different experiences with on-ground works projects delivered through the Mallee Futures Program. It provides an interesting insight into just some of the on-ground works' projects that have been undertaken through the Program and highlights their achievements and the benefits to farming families.

The CD will be available mid July free of charge through the LAP. To register for your free copy please contact Loren Mountain on 8531 3075 or Rowena Danks on 8531 2066.

Loren Mountain on 8531 3075 or Rowena Danks on 8531 2066. Join us on a visit

Join us on a visit to Gluepot Reserve

Gluepot Reserve, (north of Waikerie), is Birds Australia's first publicly funded Reserve. Located in the semi-arid South Australian mallee it is considered by many to be one of the crown jewels in the nation's reserve system. This 50,000 ha large area of virgin mallee scrub contains no less than 6 nationally endangered bird species and a unique flora and fauna adapted to the harsh conditions. Purchased in 1997, Gluepot is rapidly becoming a centre for scientific research. Its accessibility means it is one of the few areas in Australia where birdwatchers can relatively easily observe otherwise hard-to-find species.

On September 24th and 25th the Murray Mallee LAP will hold a FREE visit to Gluepot Reserve. The bus will leave Karoonda early on the 24th for a day trip to the park. From here a bus will travel back to Karoonda.

For those who would like to stay on for the optional overnight stay at the reserve where guests will have the option of participating in a batting workshop with Chris Grant (DEH). Chris has been researching bats in South Australia for 7 years. Learn bout the amazing lives of bats, how and where they live, what they eat and how they help us. Get to trap and see real live bats. You will be amazed at the variety of bats there are in the mallee.

For more details or to book in, contact the MMLAP on 85312066 or mmlap@internode.on.net RSVP date is 5th September.

Here is a short history of the reserve to whet your appetite…!

The Black-eared Miner is one of Australia's most endangered birds. The species looked doomed to extinction, when in 1996 a Birds Australia volunteer reported sighting Black- eared Miners in the region of Gluepot Station. However, the owner of Gluepot Station had applied for approval to burn areas of the extensive mallee to increase fodder for his sheep. Further surveys by volunteers confirmed that not only were Black-eared Miners and Malleefowl present in good numbers, but robust populations of four other nationally threatened birds occurred on Gluepot Station. The owner of the property indicated that he was happy to sell what was a marginal pastoral lease, but he was also happy to burn the mallee and continue farming for a few more years.

The 54,390 ha (134,000 acres) property measuring 37 x 14 km underwent detailed assessments of its significance in the landscape, its vegetation communities and its birds, and the decision to purchase it was made. The effort to raise $360,000 began. Over 2,400 people and organisations helped buy Gluepot Station in just ten weeks. Moreover, Founders pledged over $30,000 per year for the next five years to assist with management.

As the volunteer Management Committee and first volunteer Rangers took up office in July 1997, it was time to take stock of what Birds Australia had purchased. Gluepot Reserve joins the Bookmark Biosphere Reserve (900,000 ha), an internationally significant area with direct links to other large conservation reserves in New South Wales and Victoria. It is part of the largest block of intact mallee left in Australia and so the viability of threatened bird populations and other flora and fauna there is high.

The six nationally threatened species of bird on Gluepot Reserve include the Black-eared Miner , Malleefowl, Red- lored Whistler, Regent Parrot, Scarlet-chested Parrot and Striated Grasswren. A further 17 species of regionally threatened bird live there (eg Major Mitchell Cockatoo, Hooded Robin and Redthroat). In all, 190 species of bird have been recorded on Gluepot Reserve.

Gluepot Reserve has a diversity of vegetation communities which support important wildlife other than birds. Reptiles are particularly abundant with 42 species located so far, including the threatened Bandy Bandy. The last big fire on the actual Reserve occurred in the 1950s (with a small area burnt in 2006), but many areas were not burnt leaving substantial areas of mallee and Casuarina woodland with trees that are hundreds of years old. These old trees have numerous hollows for nesting birds and deep litter for ground-foraging species. The vegetation quality is particularly high in the eastern third of Gluepot because the lack of water for a 10 km radius means that grazing impacts have been minimal.

The property is open to visitors who for a small fee (or by guided tour) can take advantage of the extensive improvements and infrastructure that the voluntary Management Committee and rangers have put in place.

Information courtesy of Gluepot www.riverland.net.au/gluepot

Revegetation workshop second of a series

On the 27th of May the Murray Mallee LAP assisted students of the East Murray Area School with the thinning out native seedlings. The seedlings, grown from seed by the students earlier this year, will be planted in a local revegetation project at the Australian Zircon mine at Mindarie. The students have grown a range of plants from ground covers and grasses to trees and shrubs using locally collected seeds and cuttings.

The workshop is the second of a series of workshops that the students will participate in throughout 2008. Rowena Danks, Project Officer from the MMLAP said 'The series of workshops aims at giving the students a better understanding of the whole process of revegetation, including species selection, seed collection, preparation and propagation, right through to planting and the ongoing care that these plants need now and into the future. It gives the students the chance to experience all aspects of the project and hopefully encourages them to learn more about revegetation and biodiversity'.

them to learn more about revegetation and biodiversity'. ‘Its dirty work' - Front row Hayden Francis,

‘Its dirty work' - Front row Hayden Francis, Patrick Payne, Emily Zadow, Adele Francis, Marissa Redden, VET instructor Greg Griffiths, Kayla Tyler

Funding for the workshops has come through the National Landcare Program and the NHT Community Grants Program.

Monthly NRM office visits finish

In October last year, we started a scheme where Loren worked one day a month from the Karoonda and Lameroo NRM offices. The aim of this was to make assistance more accessible to landholders in our region. We hoped that this would provide an option for landholders to drop in and talk about on ground works projects they were planning on doing and discuss support available through the LAP.

Due to a lack of utilisation of this service we have decided not to continue the monthly visits. We are however available for site visits as per usual and appointments can be made through our office 8531 3075. Our accessibility to you is still a high priority so please feel free to call us to discuss your NRM issues and ideas.

Murray Mallee Local Action Planning Association Inc. Murray Bridge Natural Resources Centre Mannum Road PO Box 2056, Murray Bridge SA 5253 ph: (08) 8531 2066 fax: (08) 8532 5300 email: mmlap@internode.on.net

8531 2066 fax: (08) 8532 5300 email: mmlap@internode.on.net This newsletter is printed on 100% Recycled paper

This newsletter is printed on 100% Recycled paper - Protecting our Trees and Environment

MMLAP Committee Membership Rod Brown (Chairperson/ Public Officer) Lameroo ph: 8577 4033 Damien Berger (Vice
MMLAP Committee Membership
Rod Brown (Chairperson/ Public Officer)
Lameroo ph: 8577 4033
Damien Berger (Vice Chairperson)
Karoonda
Rex Spinley (Secretary/Treasurer)
Murray Bridge ph: 8531 3085
Barry Manuel
Mindarie ph: 8578 7018
Neville Pfeiffer
Parrakie ph: 8576 2051
Andrew Hall
Wunkar ph: 8589 7029
Trevor Schiller
Waikerie ph: 8541 9096
Chris Grant
Dept Environment & Heritage, Berri
Malcolm Johns
Adrian Growden
Jeremy Nelson
Karen Payne
Greg Werner
Stephanie Evans
Lewis Westbrook
hetta designs 08 8531 1131
hetta designs
08 8531 1131
Adrian Growden Jeremy Nelson Karen Payne Greg Werner Stephanie Evans Lewis Westbrook hetta designs 08 8531