Posted on 29/09/2022 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Know Your Nature Parks –Spring at the Nature Parks
Spring is an exciting time in nature with wildlife in breeding mode and migratory birds reaching our shores. Read on to find out about what is going on behind the scenes at Phillip Island Nature Parks, including our very first update on the Eastern barred bandicoot.
In The Skies - Birdlife
The Hooded Plovers of Phillip Island are heralding the start of Spring. Fledglings from last season abound and are seeking a foothold anywhere the territorial adults will tolerate them! Fledglings are, at least for the near future, easily distinguishable from their adult conspecifics by a head of mottled grey plumage (see photo). Otherwise, mature birds around the Island have formed their mating pairs, with some returning to old partners and others forming new relationships. Each pair will work tirelessly from now on to defend their lot until Autumn next year. Be mindful to give these threatened birds plenty of space during this time, as life on the edge of the land is stressful at the best of times!
The Short-tailed Shearwater breeding season on Phillip Island is about to begin with their imminent arrival to our shores from waters around Alaska. About 1.4 million birds are expected to arrive on their breeding grounds after spending the last five months around the Bering Sea near Alaska. Their epic, annual trans-equatorial migration is truly one of the natural wonders of the world. This summer, Nature Parks researchers will monitor the return of birds to nest boxes and hope to recover tiny tracking devices fitted to some individuals. Our research aims to understand their breeding and foraging success, and how that is affected by climatic and environmental changes around the world.
So, keep an eye on the sky at sunset along the coast to see these incredible birds returning home after a day’s fishing. Please also care for their homes by keeping to tracks in the dunes so you don’t accidently trample their sand dune burrows.
Other Bird Life
Pacific Gulls bring their chicks from the islands off Wilsons Promontory to feed. These large gulls reach maturity at approximately four years of age and are listed as significant fauna in the Nature Parks because of their colonial nesting habits.
Migratory birds arrive on our shores including sandpipers, curlews, godwits, plovers, knots and stints.
Grey Butcherbirds, Grey Fantails and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikesare nesting.
Raptors (birds of prey) actively hunt mice and insects and can be seen on power poles surveying their hunting grounds.
Ravens and magpies make large, stick nests.
On The Ground
Eastern barred bandicoot
Since the introduction of Eastern barred bandicoots to Phillip Island, they have spread across the Summerland Peninsula and beyond, with sightings as far as Wimbledon Heights, Pyramid Rock and Surf Beach. You may be lucky enough to spot one in your very own backyard!
This nocturnal marsupial is small brown-grey with distinctive pale bars or stripes across its back, pointed ears and hind legs that look similar to a kangaroo’s.Grasslands and grassy woodlands provide the complex habitat preferred by these shy animals. They use their clawed forepaws to scrape out a depression which they line with grass. These nests tucked under tussocks of grass protect the bandicoots during the day while they sleep. While they are solitary creatures, mother bandicoots will share their nests with their young.
There are wildflowers starting to come out everywhere. Along the coast, the Coast beard-heath are covered in tiny white flowers and the dunes are full of yellow Coast wattle. On the ground level, groundcovers in flower such as Coast groundsel and Coast Swainson-pea may be found.
In the woodland reserves the Blackwoods are starting to flower along with some of the smaller wattles such as Prickly Moses and Hedge wattles. The bell flowers of the Wonga vines and star -shaped flowers of the Clematis can be seen draping over canopy branches. The ground is covered in the yellow flowers of the Hop goodenia and in some of the damper areas there are patches of White Elderberry flowering.
A reminder that any possible fox sighting will be investigated by our specialist team. Please report any suspected sightings by calling0419 369 365. Injured foxes should be taken to the nearest veterinary clinic on the mainland, it is imperative that no foxes be brought to the island for any reason.
Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club has received funding through the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions fund to streamline emergency and public access to the beach, clubhouse and toilets, and better protect the sensitive coastal environment.
These works will include sand relocation and dune vegetation works near the Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club, located on Phillip Island Nature Parks’ managed land, to address ongoing sand and inundation issues at the club; pathways and ramps will be upgraded to improve access; and a new retaining wall will be built on the southern and western sides of the club.
Surf Beach Sunderland Bay Biodiversity Project
To protect significant coastal vegetation and cultural heritage from the impacts of rabbits, the construction of a rabbit-exclusion fence in conjunction with a rabbit control program and targeted revegetation program arenow underway. The Rabbit Exclusion Fence will protect approximately 3 hectares of coastal vegetation from Surfies Point Carpark to the end of Sunderland Bay Rd steps. This project is a resident led initiative, with the support of Surf Beach Sunderland Bay Coastcare Group, Bass Coast Shire Council, Bass Coast Landcare Network, Bunurong Land Council and Phillip Island Nature Parks. Further information is available https://www.penguins.org.au/about/local-community/news/biodiversity-project/
In The Trees
As we move into Spring, koalas at the Koala Conservation Reserve become more active as the trees begin to produce new growth and the breeding season begins. In October, Rangers will be in the field with the aim of catching the koalas in the Reserve for a health check and to see if they have any joeys (baby koalas) in their pouch.
On Our Shores and In Our Waters
Spring has truly sprung for our Little Penguins. We are starting to see a lot of eggs in the colony, with more being laid every day. These eggs take five weeks to hatch, so we can expect to hear the sounds of chirping chicks at the Penguin Parade by mid-October. We are currently also seeing the last of our autumn breeding chicks fledge as well! It has certainly been a busy time of our penguins this year and we have our flippers crossed for another successful breeding season.
Seal Rocks News
Australia’s largest Australian Fur Seal breeding colony is right on our doorstep at Seal Rocks.
The females are getting bigger with developing pregnancies. They are having to work hard feeding the pup from last summer and growing the new one. They will start to wean their pup from last summer before the birth of their new pup.
Last summer's pups are getting bigger and will be supplementing their milk diet with food they catch themselves, getting ready for weaning before the onset of the next breeding season that starts at the end of October.
Late October will mark the beginning of the breeding season with huge bull (male) seals arriving, bulked up and ready to fight to protect their territory and harem of females.
The wildlife clinic is getting amuch needed update with the rebuild of the small animal pens, hopefully these will be ready by spring’s peak intake. The rehab team have been kept busy caring for a range of wildlife, including a brown thornbill with concussion and a kookaburra recovering from surgery to a wing.
Spring brings wildlife out and about and they get busy breeding. Our team gives a few hints on how to help wildlife this Spring.
Birds nesting – Spring winds can blow nests out of trees. Here’s how you can help:
•Put the nest back in the tree it came from or one nearby
•If nest is destroyed, you can make an artificial nest and securely attach high in a tree, birds have the best chance of survival when raised by their parents.
Baby birds – chicks are starting to emerge from their nests and are learning to fly, this can make them vulnerable. How you can help:
•There is no need to interfere unless they are vulnerable to being attacked by a predator.
•If the bird is unsafe on ground, it can be moved to a low branch.
•Watch and wait - their parents will often be watching from a distance and will return when they feel safe to do so and appreciate your help.
Some adult birds will protect their nest/chicks by swooping anyone who gets too close, keep clear of these areas wherever possible. Birds that may swoop include Magpies, Magpie Lark, Laughing Kookaburra, Red Wattle Bird, Grey Butcherbird, and Masked Lapwing.
Keep an eye out for echidna trains during breeding season!If an echidna visits your backyard - keep your pets inside and give the echidna space and time to move on of its own accord. Give way to echidnas crossing the road, they have large territories, and may have puggles (young) stashed away nearby.
Snakes in backyards
Do not attempt to capture or move. Keep pets inside and allow the snake time to move on. Call a qualified snake handler if required or DELWP for further information.
Keeping wildlife wild – the greatest thing you can do for wildlife is to keep it wild. These animals are very different to domestic animals, and have developed very specific diets, behaviours and habitat needs over thousands of years.
For more information, or if you find injured wildlife, you can call Phillip Island Nature Parks on 5951 2800 or Wildlife Victoria 8400 7300