Here’s a little competition about bird species (for non-birder people, so butt out if you are an expert). If you can identify please add via “comment”. I am in the Northern Territory, Australia, so they may be a bit different from what you are used to. All the photos taken by me over the last 3 weeks. I have an interest in just how much we know about our own Australian species. Most of these are fairly common. I will add some more unusual species in a later post. Please share, and kids welcome!
These are Little Red Flying Foxes, the smallest of our “fruitbats”, an endemic species of northern and eastern mainland Australia.
Flying Foxes are considered by many people as simply obnoxious pests. They can settle in suburban backyards in thousands, but these beautiful flying mammals serve a critical role especially in northern Australia by pollinating a wide range of plant species. They are the ‘bees’ of the tropical north, a place which is largely shunned by European honey bees. Besides pollination they also distribute seeds of native fruiting trees far and wide, a service indispensable to native forests.
Science is just beginning to understand the behaviour of these animals and with this knowledge managers will have the ability to persuade colonies to avoid areas of human habitation and agribusiness.
We have no idea whether these animals are increasing or decreasing in number, they a very nomadic and move over huge distances. One thing is certain however an that is their habitat is being increasingly lost to ‘development’ . The American Passenger Pigeon once blacked the sky in mid-western US states but is now gone forever. Lets not treat our Flying foxes the same way.
Here’s a little (unfinished) video which I shot and edited on the run in the Northern Territory, Australia. The location is about one hour drive east of Alice Springs, known as Ross Creek. “Arid” is a description which covers more than 90% of this country, water is the most precious commodity.
We call places where water naturally occurs a rock-hole, a waterhole, a soak or a well. They were revered and cared for for thousands of years by the first Australians. In the middle east they would be called oases. What WE do is use them to water stock (and make money). This is achieved by simply running stock on land with unrestricted access to natural waterholes. This video is an attempt to show the results of this practice. Native species have to cope with what is left, a stinking brew of warm mud, urine and faeces.
One can only wonder how much of our wonderful wildlife is slowly being poisoned on a daily basis. They have no choice but to drink what is left.
Homesteaders proudly describe their properties by the square kilometer, holdings are huge by any standard. Beef cattle raising is one of very few ways money can be made from these arid lands, but at what cost?
I live in Altona Victoria, home to Melbourne’s petro/chemical refineries, car plants and other major industries. The main waterway here is Kororoit Creek which was once a beautiful babbling brook but had become an industrial drain.
Unfortunately the original creek escarpment has been all but obliterated, but if you know where to look there are still stone chips left by the Wurundjeri people 200 years ago. Work has been going on for over 20 years, dragging away rubbish, landscaping, planting and maintaining. This video shows one unexpected creature which has come to raise a family here. There is no sound because there is still an enormous tip close by and bulldozers are operating seven days a week. The area is surrounded by factories but this little oasis is showing signs of new life.
Folkc shows what can be accomplished with a little organization and determination by ordinary people.
Who could disagree that Australian ecosystems are very special? My photo of this White Backed Fairy-wren in central NSW last month tells it all, he seems to scream ‘I Exist’.
Not far from where I live in Melbourne, Victoria, are the last few Orange Bellied Parrots, and I mean few. The only four birds left to make the crossing from Tasmania to mainland Australia for winter (these parrots are one of three of earth’s migratory parrots another being the Australian Swift parrot which is also endangered).
Most people have no idea these creatures exist or would care, a freeway passes the parrot’s winter foraging place and thousands of cars roar past the place each day. How many of those drivers know what they are passing?
Leading Australian scientists tell us our special ecosystems are in a state of collapse https://theconversation.com/great-barrier-reef-bleaching-is-just-one-symptom-of-ecosystem-collapse-across-australia-58579
Ecology CAN make a change, without it there would likely be no Rhinos, Elephants or National Parks. People can also create change, but this requires political will. The Great Australian Silence (the National ability to turn our backs on the big questions) has to be overcome.
“Country”and that includes our seas, need very special treatment. It’s what we all rely on to provide the water, oxygen, food and recycling of waste and chemicals used daily without a thought. It’s also the thing which sequestrates the Co2 we are pumping into the air and which is causing Climate Change.
Lets put our money where it’s really needed, not into more war machines.“Don’t tell me what you value; show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” – US Vice President Joe Biden
My arts project was recently posted to ALA see http://www.ala.org.au/blogs-news/spotlight-on-ala-users-visual-artist-peter-forward/
I add to Atlas of Living Australia’s data base when I take photos or recognize a species. Ordinary citizens can help here by building knowledge about what is in our wild places and even backyards. If I cannot identify the plant or animal I log it to WOMPA which is part of the Bowerbird database. These databases apparently combine their sightings, although I’m not sure about this. After entering to WOMPA experts will view the photo for identification. Don’t forget to place a car key or coin or matchbox next to the object to show size. ALA is also great for me when making my sculptures.
Jalma (Cheeky Yam, Dioscorea bulbifera)
And there’s other reasons to discourage cat ownership..
Predators are disappearing world-wild, including from our seas. On land this can have unforseen effects. The left diagram below is what we have done, and the right is what the science suggests we should do. The problem is these decisions would effect on-farm income.
However agriculture and conservation can work together. Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus in arid South Australia released 4 threatened study mammals from feral predation. The result was the 4 species’ removal from the IUCN Red list.
So next time you see a spider or cockroach in your cupboard remember your own actions and decisions also have consequenses.