Powerful predators

As part of our Wild Encounters project, in today’s Catchment Corner we’ll be getting to know another of our region’s vulnerable creatures, the powerful owl.

Like all owls, the powerful owl (Ninox strenua) is nocturnal and due to very soft wing feathers can fly almost silently. They hunt by night and roost during the day, often with the previous nights catch held in their talons.

The powerful owl is Australia’s largest owl. An apex predator, named for its ability to carry prey weighing more than its own body weight. They feed predominantly on arboreal animals, medium to large tree dwelling mammals, but will also take bats, roosting birds and ground dwelling mammals such as rabbits.

The habitat of the powerful owl is tall, dense forests of south-eastern and eastern Australia. It is found along the coast and the Great Dividing Range, extending to the western slopes. Their home ranges are large, at least 2000 to 2500 acres, and can extend even further when food is scarce.

Breeding pairs often mate for life, typically returning to the same nesting site year after year. They utilise large tree hollows to incubate and raise their young. These large hollows, up to 1 m wide and 2 m deep, can take up to 150 years to form. The breeding season is in winter, mainly in May and June, and brooding occurs in September. The male does all the hunting during this time and may aggressively defend the nest.

The young fledge at 6-8 weeks but remain dependant on their parents for 5-9 months, and sometimes into the next breeding season. Once fully independent they leave their parents to find their own home range and a mate.

The survival of this large predator is dependant on the availability of large prey. An in turn, their food source is dependant on the presence of diverse native forests. Clearing and fragmentation of habitat and loss of large, mature, hollow-bearing trees from our landscape mean the species is listed as vulnerable in NSW and threatened nationally.

Have you seen a powerful owl on your patch? Let us know: info@watershedlandcare.com.au

The Wild Encounters project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from the Australian Government’s Communities Environment Program and is a part of the NSW Landcare Program, a collaboration of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW supported by the NSW Government.

Managing Holistically helping farmers and graziers to enhance their quality of life

Holistic Management (HM) is a land management strategy, founded on a decision making framework which results in ecologically regenerative, economically viable and socially sound management. Developed by Allan Savoury over 40 years ago, the approach provides strategies for managing domestic livestock based on the relationship of herds of wild herbivores and grasslands.

There are many examples worldwide of marginal land being turned into productive and profitable enterprises utilising HM principles. Landowners and managers around the world who have embraced the Holistic Management principles are reporting increases in soil carbon, increased productivity, better time management and a decrease in costs.

Landholders in our region will have the opportunity to undertake Holistic Management training at a course run by Inside Outside Management in Bathurst.

The course will provide an understanding of the holistic nature of our environment. Participants will learn how to make decisions that are simultaneously socially, environmentally and financially sound using the Holistic Framework; how to utilise animals as a positive tool to improve environmental health; create with a Holistic Context for themselves and their business/family; create a Holistic Financial plan and a property Holistic Grazing plan (if applicable); and improve time management and communication skills.

The 8-day course is structured as 4 two-day sessions, 4 to 6 weeks apart; Session 1 September 15-16, Session 2 October 27-28, Session 3 November 24-25, Session 4 December 8-9.

Email and telephone back up will be provided and participants are encouraged to to attend with partners or managers. This support assists greatly with adoption of change.

The course fee of $2200 (inc GST) per person includes 8 days of training, 500 page textbook, Holistic Management e-book manual, charts, worksheets and materials, as well as Grazing Planning and Financial Planning software, teas and lunch.

For more information visit: www.insideoutsidemgt.com.au

To express your interest in attending the Bathurst Holistic Management course Kerry Wehlburg, Inside Outside Management, 0428 894 578 or by email: kerry@insideoutsidemgt.com.au

Revegetating after fire in the Mid-Western Region

Last summer saw unprecedented bushfire activity in eastern Australia, making headline news around the globe. In the Mid-Western Regional Local Government Area 255,000 hectares were burnt, hundreds of properties were affected and multiple buildings destroyed, resulting in the Mid-Western Region being declared a Natural Disaster Area.

The impacts on biodiversity in our region were also devastating, with many animals killed, injured or displaced and large areas of vegetation destroyed.

As part of their community Bushfire Recovery support, Mid Western Regional Council is partnering with Watershed Landcare to provide bushfire affected landholders with native trees as part of their recovery.

The project will provide affected landholders with up to 40 native plants, tree guards and stakes to assist with re-vegetation of their properties.

The local species tubestock will be grown in the Watershed Landcare Nursery and will be available for planting in Autumn or Spring 2021. Landholders can purchase additional plants too, $3 per plant and $2.50 per guard and stake (ex gst). Additional discounts for Landcare Members apply.

Eligible landholders are invited to complete an Expression of Interest to participate in this opportunity. Expressions of Interest are now open and will close on Friday, 21 August 2020 at 5pm.

To submit an application visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VMFQVSK

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Mid Western Regional Council and is a part of the NSW Landcare Program, a collaboration of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW supported by the NSW Government.

Have you seen Quolls in the area?

As part of the Wild Encounters project, we will be investigating threatened species and biodiversity

in our local area. In this week’s Catchment Corner we will be taking a look at the Spotted-tailed Quoll, mainland Australia’s largest carnivorous marsupial.

The Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) is about the size of a domestic cat and can be distinguished from the other Quoll species by the spots on its tail. Usually nocturnal, they are agile climbers but spend most of their time on the forest floor, using hollow logs, rocky outcrops and crevices to shelter and raise their young. Spotted-tailed Quolls have a distinctive bounding gait and a call “like a blast from a circular saw”.

Their diet consist predominantly of medium-sized mammals but this efficient predator will take prey ranging from insects to small wallabies. Carrion is also an important component of the diet.

Habitat includes rainforest, open forest, woodland, coastal heathland and inland riparian forest.

Quolls typically travel along creek lines hunting for gliders, possums, bandicoots, rats, birds and lizards and their home ranges can cover up to 3000 ha. Although their natural habitat is the forest floor, they have learnt to travel across open country; especially farms where they find abundant and accessible food such as rabbits and poultry.

The species used to be widely distributed up to the snowline along both sides of the Great Dividing Range from southern Queensland to South Australia and Tasmania.

Loss of habitat through land clearing for agriculture and forestry has lead to population decline. Quolls were also treated as pests in agricultural landscapes; their love of chicken lead to extensive

extermination through poisoning, trapping and shooting.

Although populations in Tasmania have somewhat recovered, continued habitat fragmentation and competition from introduced predators such as the feral cat and fox have lead to the species being

listed as vulnerable in NSW and endangered nationally.

Have you seen a quoll at your place? Let us know: info@watershedlandcare.com.au

The Wild Encounters project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from the Australian Government’s Communities Environment Program and is a part of the NSW Landcare Program, a collaboration of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW supported by the NSW Government.