Birds Banding Together!

Carpentarian Grasswren (Amytornis dorotheae). Photo: Henry Stoetzel.

Southern Gulf Project Officers Lyndy Skea and Kayler Greenfield have been lucky enough to work closely with PhD Candidates Henry Stoetzel and Patrick Webster from The University of Queensland as part of our Carpentarian Grasswren Conservation project.

We’ve been getting down and dirty, colour banding some tiny Carpies, which is an important step in the conservation of these birds, as a method of tracking individuals, learning about their habitat requirements and obtaining other valuable data.

Project Officer Lyndy, who is a new member of the Southern Gulf team described the experience as “surreal”! “The first little Carpie we caught was a male, Henry had to lure him down the hill into the trap using recorded audio of their calls, which took around 15 minutes. Henry was like Tigger, jumping up and pouncing as soon as the bird came into the net area, it was an incredible experience” she said.

Further steps in the program will include radio-tracking as many Grasswrens as possible to ensure the most amount of data can be gathered.

This project is supported by Southern Gulf NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the Southern Gulf NRM Environment Fund.

PhD Candidates Henry Stoetzel and Patrick Webster, with their assistant for the day Kurt Skea, banding a Carpentarian Grasswren and recording vital information about the bird. Photo: Lyndy Skea.
Henry Stoetzel with two, recently banded, Carpies. Photo: Henry Stoetzel

Constructive Collaboration for Cloncurry Shire

Mesquite in Cloncurrys Coppermine Creek

Recently Cloncurry Shire Council CEO, Philip Keirle, met with Southern Gulf NRM invasive plants and animals project officer, Charles Curry, to discuss a partnership arrangement with the view to weed eradication.  An agreement was reached between the two parties that will see a significant impact on the mesquite infestation currently found within the shire.

Inspections have been conducted by representatives of both Cloncurry Shire Council and Southern Gulf NRM to identify and determine an order of priority for treating the mesquite, which is recognised as a Restricted Invasive Plant under the Qld Biosecurity Act 2014.

The introduced species from North and South America, also known as Algaroba and Quilpie Algaroba, grows between 5-15 metres tall with zig-zag branches and a smooth dark red to green bark.

The partnership has seen finances supplied by Southern Gulf NRM, through the Federal and State Government’s Disaster Recovery Funding, matched dollar-for-dollar by the Cloncurry Shire Council to a sum of $100,000. 

The plan, well underway, is aimed at spraying mature and regrowth mesquite in Council-managed land and on private landholdings, a big step towards eradicating the species from the Cloncurry town area.  Project Manager Charles Curry is hopeful that “by treating the mesquite, there may also be some success with simultaneously reducing the numbers of rubber vine and chinee apple, other highly invasive species, that often encompass the same areas”.

A dedicated contract team of two have braved the summer heat and completed their initial sweep of Cloncurry. It is reported that a large number of mesquite was sprayed, much of which will start yellowing and dying as the herbicide takes effect. Landholders consulted for participation in the project have voiced their approval thus far and are eager to see the results. The second stage of the project is set to be completed throughout December. A second team will also be spraying through December with a focus on Parkinsonia and bellyache bush, which have been found in large numbers around Lake Corella, a well-known tourist spot between Cloncurry and Mount Isa.

Weeds Whacked at Wilfred Downs!

 A coming together of landholders and staff,  project officers and mapping gurus saw knowledge and field techniques shared.  On Thursday 30th September Southern Gulf NRM, partnering with Desert Channels Queensland, held a field day on Wilfred Downs, a property south of Hughenden, with a view to highlight the prickly acacia treatment concluding shortly, on the property.

The field day was a great success with multiple, local landholder representatives in attendance, along with Southern Gulf’s resident pest management experts, Charles Curry and Robyn Young.  Desert Channels staff were also present, including their weed management team, GIS officer and two drone operators.

Wilfred Downs is one of six properties that has been actively treating the invasive species, as part of a joint program between Southern Gulf, Desert Channels Queensland.  The project has yielded excellent results thus far and has been funded by the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Prickly acacia treatment methods, as practised on Wilfred Downs and the other properties, were discussed and the day included demonstrations of the plant and equipment used. Gordon Ford, owner of Hughenden Station and Wilfred Downs, provided some valuable insights based on his more than 90 years’ experience living in the region.

If Prickly Acacia is an issue on your property and you would like to know more on eradicating this weed, please contact our friendly team to discuss strategies suited to your land.

Birds of a Feather; Collective Carpentarian Grasswren Conservation!

Carpentarian Grasswren (Amytornis dorotheae) image from Anthony Woodbine for Southern Gulf NRM.

The 2021 Bird Life Northern Queensland survey has revealed that the endangered Carpentarian Grasswren is on the rise!  A total of 21 volunteers participated in a survey of over 80 sites throughout northwest Queensland this May.

Photo: Justin Reid

Great news for the Carpentarian Grasswren as sightings were recorded at 44 sites which are more than double the surveys of the previous two years.

The sites were methodically mapped to establish long-term monitoring, including additional sites identified by Henry Stoetzel, PhD Researcher at University of Queensland, who has created a unique model for predicting their habitat.

Most interestingly, eight groups of Carpentarian Grasswrens were spotted with more than two birds, which indicates a successful breeding season.  Survey participants believe that the high numbers of offspring will help populate habitat close to parent territories.

Photo: Justin Reid

Volunteers that have been involved in the surveys since 2008 commented that this survey has resulted in the highest number of Carpentarian Grasswren records since the commencement of the surveys.

The positive survey results show promising outcomes for improving the trajectory of the endangered species and successfully showcases the biodiversity benefits of regional fire management planning.

This project is supported by Southern Gulf NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the Southern Gulf NRM Environment Fund.

Click here to see a video of the survey team as they tell you more about why this project is so important!

Get To Know Our CEO!

Geoff Penton, CEO for SGNRM recently celebrated 12, very successful, months with us so we sat down with Geoff and asked him a series of ‘hard-hitting’ questions, to get to know him better.

Geoff being interviewed at this years Richmond Field Day.

What are your favourite movies?

Saving Private Ryan & How to Train Your Dragon.

What are 3 items you would take with you to a deserted island?

 If I can’t take a Chinese restaurant then I would say a knife, fishing gear and a plastic sheet.

What do you do at SGNRM?

You mean other than signing things?  I support the board to make strategic decisions about the direction of the organisation and manage the staff to deliver on our projects.

What are your credentials for working in your position?

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Systems & a Certificate of Ecology issued by the University of Western Sydney (Hawkesbury).  I started as one of the first four Regional Landcare Facilitators for the Queensland Government, where I remained for several years. I then worked as a planning officer for an NRM group and the NRM Operations Manager for another NRM group before becoming the CEO of an NRM group, a role which I have held for around 12 years.

What got you in to Natural Resource Management?

Initially, I wanted to be a vet but during my college years I had the opportunity to work with the Hunter Valley Conservation Trust which operated to some degree, like an NRM Group. We did a lot of work on catchment management and engaged landholders on erosion control. From here, I realized I was good at it, and I really enjoyed it so I never turned back!  

What is something landholders have to deal with that you want to fix?

To single out one thing, I would say weed and pest threats.  We have a relatively disjointed way of dealing with weed and pest threats. Sometimes landholders can be there own worst enemy for only trying to eradicate the threat when its actively causing a problem for them.  Often this is the worst time to try and control them because its when they are already eating your grain or pasture, so they are not very hungry which makes it hard to poison or trap them.  Being proactive and implementing multiple, systematic rounds of control is a method I would like to see employed more often.  We know that it works! I have seen many projects where pest populations have decreased to nearly zero when an organised and coordinated approach is taken.  I find that more often than not, the problem is the people, not the pest.

What do you like about working at SGNRM?

Simple, the people! There’s a really great staff team which is the main appeal but it’s nice to do a job that you love.  

What are the values that drive you?

I think that an element of fun is important in the workplace, it keeps things lively and morale high but of course, this needs to be coupled with a strong work ethic. I really struggle watching people skate by, only doing the bare minimum.  I also think that when dealing with the community and landholders, especially with dealing with public monies, integrity and honesty are key. 

Lastly, what do you do when you’re not working?

I love to travel with my family, we’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of Europe together and I’ve also done a lot of exploring Australia which has been amazing.  I am very much into building and furniture renovations as well, its something I have done with my wife for a while, and always satisfying to see the end transformation.  I also love gardening, growing my own vegetables is something I’ve done since I was a kid!

Thanks Geoff for your time!

Here’s What We Loved About the Richmond Field Day

In case you missed it, we recently set up shop at the Richmond Field Day and we had an absolute blast!

There was food, fashion, and fun to be had by all. Standouts of the day included the bull auction, the lawn mower racing and of course the Southern Gulf NRM tent.

Bringing a team of 6 and a truck full of new technology, literature, and demonstration models, we had Project Officers on deck to deliver hands on advice for all things NRM.

CEO, Geoff Penton, and Grazing Land Officer, Georgia Glasson, testing out our soil erosion dumpy level.
Georgia and Vicky discussing land management practices.

We had multiple visitors from all over our catchment including Vicky Molyneaux from Jireena Station who came to us seeking information on weed/pest and land management.  We were able to provide Vicky with the information and support she needed, “Georgia is a wealth of knowledge” she said.

Rachel and Kahlia in a 1:1 pregnancy testing demonstration. Thanks to DAF for supplying the model.

Another of our guests was Kahlia Mickan from Dulthara Station who stopped by to discuss our recent cattle pregnancy testing workshops and left with information on so much more. “Initially, I just came by to ask when the next workshop would be, but I received training, information, a demonstration and even some pamphlets to take home. It’s such a fantastic opportunity to have your team here! We recently missed the workshop and were really disappointed but to have Rachel go through the workshop with us one-on-one at a family fun day is such commitment to the landholders of our region” she said.  

That wasn’t all for us though with further activities during the day including a very popular soil erosion demonstration and the testing of new field equipment such as the automated weather station and dumpy level.

We’d like to that the Richmond Turf Club for organising the Field Days and inviting us to participate, we and we’re sure everyone else who attended, had a great time!

Head to our Youtube page to see our video recap of the day!