Thursday 29 October 2015


Birdlife Australia’s NSW and ACT annual Twitchathon will be held over the weekend of 31 October and 1 November to raise funds for the organisation.

Teams of birdwatchers competing in the Twitchathon have 24 hours to find as many species as possible. They have obtained sponsorships from friends, families and colleagues.  The Twitchathon has become  very competitive with teams not just competing for the highest score, but for the most dollars raised prizes or even the Lucky Twitcher’s Prize.

The funds raised in the Twitchathon are for projects related to the study of and conservation of native birds and their habitats.  Some of the projects assisted in the past have been:

  • ·         Hunter Shorebird Roost Site Protection Project
  • ·         Murray Valley Bush Stone-Curlew Captive Release Project
  • ·         Greater Sydney Powerful Owl Survey Project

In the last three years approximately $25,000 was raised each year.

This year’s Twitchathon will provide funds to continue the support given in 2011 and 2013 to the Powerful Owl Project.  This will enable the project to be extended for a sixth breeding season.

The Powerful Owl Project uses citizen science and a team of volunteers to monitor the threatened Powerful Owls (Ninox strenua) in Greater Sydney providing detailed information on their breeding success, habitat use, mortality rates and diets.  The information gained is used to determine the species’ conservation status and assist in developing management recommendations for their continued survival in urban areas. 

For more information on this project see:  Powerful Owl Project Report.

The Clarence Valley’s Twitchathon team is the Black-necked Stalkers.

Anyone wishing to sponsor this team can contact Dr Greg Clancy at

Sunday 4 October 2015


Australia has three species of wombats.  The largest, the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii), averages about 32 kg and is more than a metre long. It is listed as endangered both under the Queensland Conservation Act and nationally under the federal Environment Protection and Conservation Act.

Until about six years ago this species could only be found in Epping Forest National Park north-west of Clermont in central Queensland - a small scientific park of 3160 ha of open woodland with areas of sandy soils – a vegetated “island” surrounded by mostly cleared grazing land.  This park is dedicated to protecting the small wombat population.

In 2002 a two metre high fence was built around the park following the killing of some of the wombats by a pack of dogs.  At this time there were just over a hundred wombats left.
Since then there has been a significant improvement to an estimated 220.

The population growth is largely due to the work of Dr Alan Horsup and his colleagues in the Queensland Government’s Threatened Species Unit. 

It has also been assisted by the work of volunteer caretakers living in the park for a month at a time and carrying out a range of duties to ensure the wombats’ well-being.  These include maintaining the watering stations around the park, checking the all-important fenceline, repairing access tracks, slashing, and servicing the motion cameras set up around the park to record wombat activity.

A small second population of wombats has been established in suitable habitat in southern Queensland near St George (part of the wombats’ former range). This was set up as insurance for the species’ survival in case of disease or natural disaster wiping out the Epping Forest population.

The increase in numbers at Epping Forest and the success of the translocation is encouraging Dr Horsup to consider establishing another separate population. This will be necessary when the current park reaches its carrying capacity of 300-350 perhaps in another five years.

This steady recovery of the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat is welcome news when so much of the natural world is under threat.

-          Leonie Blain

 This post was originally published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Daily Examiner on 28 September, 2015