Which animals visit an active malleefowl mound over several weeks on Bush Blocks Guardian's Warralakin land. See malleefowl courting, maintaining the mound, other small birds, an emu, crows, thorny devil. But also feral preditors – foxes and cats! Check them out on our Youtube channel:
June 2022 – Malleefowl
Two areas of the block were cleared in the 80s and have been left to revegetate. They now comprise dense Acacia shrublands. Fortunately, the dense shrubs and leaf litter are perfect for the threatened malleefowl, which have been breeding in this habitat!
Malleefowl are ground-dwelling birds that construct large mounds from soil and leaf litter. The birds dig a cavity into the mound to lay eggs before burying with leaf litter, which decomposes and generates heat to incubate the eggs. Adults will add or remove leaf litter to maintain nest temperature. When chicks hatch they emerge from the nest independent.
Due to their ground-dwelling nature, malleefowl are susceptible to cat and fox predation and are listed as Vulnerable under state and federal legislation.
We have found 11 mounds on the block and are continuing to record more. Some mounds are currently in use. We aim to conduct long-term mound monitoring, and are hopeful malleefowl abundance and breeding will increase once non-native predator control commences.
June 2022 – Bird Census
Committee ecologists Sam, Jeff and Andy designed an annual bird monitoring program during their last visit to the block in June. 20 minute searches were completed in set locations covering all the main bird habitats on the block, such as shrub thicket, granite outcrops, Salmon Gum woodland and mallee shrubland. Searches were also completed in the cleared paddocks so we can detect how bird species and abundance change as we revegetate.
We found 54 species from 17 searches, including the Mulga Parrot, Western Yellow Robin and Rufous Treecreeper shown below, and counted 573 birds!
April 2022 – Farmhouse
As well as 50+ years of farm junk, we own a large farm shed and a modest farmhouse which we had not been able to inspect until well after we took possession, and thus had no idea of its condition. We've now had a good look around and have decided it is worth keeping, mainly as a base for research and environmental education. Quite a bit of work is required and initially we have committed money to purchase new storage batteries and an inverter to get the 240v electrics working again, with lots of help from member Simon. This will also get the water pump working to provide water to the sink and bathroom. The house is bare so we are sourcing donations of furniture.
March 2022 – We are now a registered Charity
We have been informed that we are now a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, which we hope will help us secure additional donations and other benefits such as achieving Deductible Gift Recipient status.
March 2022 – Fires
In March lightning caused three fires in the southern bush – one large which the adjoining farmer noticed and extinguished before it spread too far. The BBG are very grateful for their efforts. The smaller fires were only a few square metres and did not spread. This highlighted the need to source and maintain a small fire truck to help in future and develop a fire management plan.
Part of the large 2022 fire, just south of the lower field.
March 2022 – Motion Cameras Deployed
During March and April 43 motion cameras were deployed throughout the block. Motion cameras are units that take photos when movement is detected in the field of view, and are excellent non-invasive ways of determining what species occur on the block. We have placed ours in a variety of habitats as well as on features that will help us understand animal activity, such as malleefowl mounds, tracks (a good way to determine non-native predator presence), rock faces, water sources and hollow logs. Special thanks to Cheryl Lohr, who helped deploy them!We just retrieved the cameras, and hope to analyse the images soon and to be shared in later news. As a small bonus during collection our ecologists bumped into a Common Scaly-foot (Pygopus lepidopodus). This animal may look like a snake, but is a harmless legless lizard.Animals photographed by motion cameras will help indicate ecological health and non-native predator presence, and we are hoping for other threatened species to add to Malleefowl! We aim to repeat this study to build a record of fauna on the block and see how this changes as we implement conservation controls.
Wildlife camera aimed at an active malleefowl nest
February 2022 – Revegetation Agreement Signed
200ha of the block were cleared for cropping, and are of minimal ecological value. We seek to restore these areas as closely as possible to their original ecological value, beginning with revegetation. After a successful visit in February, we have contracted Carbon Positive Australia to revegetate and have now signed a formal agreement. Like BBG, Carbon Positive Australia is a not-for-profit organisation, and we are excited to be working with them. You can find out more about Carbon Positive here: https://carbonpositiveaustralia.org.au/ Note that due to the nature of the country being revegetated, not a great deal of carbon will be sequestered, and so will not be accounted for and thus not sold to their clients.
Seed collecting will take place in spring 2022 and direct seeding and hand planting will occur in winter of 2023, with the aim of restoring vegetation values that are assessed as likely present before clearing. The planting will be done with seeds collected locally so as to retain the genetic purity of the flora. Fingers crossed we receive good rains after the plantings to give everything a kick start!
November 2021 – Naming
We are keen to find an appropriate Aboriginal name for this block and are in the process of reaching out to work with the Traditional Custodians of the region. We had one such visit this month and are awaiting feedback.
November 2021 – Purchase our first block
We are delighted to announce we have completed the first step in our journey to help preserve Western Australia's unique ecology: the purchasing of our first bush block, located in the wheatbelt! We could not have done this without the incredible support of everyone receiving this newsletter; thank you for your donations and for making our goal become a reality! We would also like to extend thanks to Gondwana Link Ltd for their continued assistance.
Large areas of native bush are rarity in the wheatbelt, as it has undergone widespread clearing for agriculture and is now restricted to small isolated patches. Due to its long unburnt vegetation and the neighbouring Class A Chiddarcooping Nature Reserve the block immediately caught the eye of what were to become the Bush Blocks Guardians (BBG). In 2019 members visited the block and saw the diverse environment and recognised its potential as a conservation property with rich ecological values. This drove the formation of the BBG, beginning an almost two year journey to raise funds, purchase the land and essentially expand the nature reserve.
After 18 months of growing the BBG and sourcing funds, the opportunity was nearly lost when the property went under offer. Fortunately for BBG the finances fell through, and the near loss only increased our drive to secure the land. After additonal donations from our supporters and the committee further increasing our funds, we finally secured the block on the 19th November 2021! Now the conservation efforts at the block can begin!