Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Canberra Times Article - Call of the Wild - Tim the Yowie Man


A few weeks ago I met up with a well known Canberra, and beyond, personality called by his adoring public Tim the Yowie Man. Tim and I met on a cool winters morning at about 600 mtrs elevation in the hills west of Canberra to set a camera trap and an audio recorder on an old forestry trail  on Gibraltar Creek , initially with the hopeful intention of recording a lyrebird or two and recording their song. Tim wrote a column in the Canberra Times recording the experience and I thought it was a very good read but I could be biased.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-life/tim-the-yowie-man-call-of-the-wild-20170717-gxcjez.html

We left the camera and recorder out for 7 days which resulted in the photographs and video of a few swamp wallabies, a lyrebird, a wild dog and an unknown animal that we suspected of first glance of being a spotted tailed quoll. The 11 second video (below) was shown to the people at the wonderful Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve who could not positively identify it as a quoll but other suggestions pointed at the likelihood of it being a ring tailed possum. A quoll is a lot rarer.

Here is a compilation of results of the setting of the camera trap Tim and I left located on the Gibraltar Creek ACT. Set on the 15th June - collected on the 22nd of June.


For closer inspection here is the clip of the suspect animal..


And finally the wild dog... or is it a dingo?


All up a lot of fun. Thankyou Tim!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Murrumbidgee Bunyip


The story of the Bunyip Redivivus of Lambrigg near Point Hut Crossing Canberra. Reported 98 years ago in the Queanbeyan Age. The report details several sightings in the area including the junction of the Ginnindera Creek and the Murrumbidgee and upper and lower Queanbeyan River. The sighting at Lambrigg Homestead involved a reported capture.. I took some video to explain..


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Billy Billy Creek Remote Camera Results


The results of a camera trap I put out at Billy Billy Creek in the Australian Capital Territory last Friday. I only left the camera up there for a few days as I'm planning another project where I will need the camera. This setting saw the wander of a single wombat at night and unfortunately another feral cat making it two invasive killers spotted in two weeks in two camera settings..

Friday, July 7, 2017

Billy Billy Creek Remote Camera Setup


The area I am setting cameras and audio recorders is the new eastern section of Tidbinbilla. The area follows down the Gibraltar Creek until it starts meandering on the lowlands and rural leases. I have found this area to be particularly rich in native wildlife some areas being dense old growth but others showing remnant regrowth from human interaction in years past.

I'm also interested in the interaction of feral species with the ecosystem having filmed a feral cat and wild dog (dingo?) in the area in weeks gone past. The footage is being used in another project and will be uploaded once that is finalised. This little creek seems very active going by some well established undergrowth animal pathways. I'm not sure how long I will leave it there and I took a little video.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Tharwa Yowie


Tharwa is an interesting little village to Canberra's south with a long history pre-dating Federation. It is also the location of several sightings of the fabled hairy man known generally today as the Yowie. I have had an interest in local hairy man sightings for a long time and have written about the historical yarns in years gone past on this blog.

This report comes from Dean Harrison of the Yowie Hunters research group and involves the tale of a sighting between Tharwa and the Apollo Road Turnoff.. I was on a walk down that way today and took a few minutes video..



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gibraltar Creek Feral Cat


Final setting of a remote camera on Gibraltar Creek in the Australian Capital Territory. The camera was only out for 5 days and it was fortuitous arriving early to collect it as the batteries, having endured sub zero temperatures, were totally exhausted. There was not much native wildlife collected apart from a duo of wombats going for a stroll.

Disturbing to record however was a lone feral cat prowling past the camera. I had not collected the image of a cat in the area before. Unfortunately for the native wildlife a cat can kill up to a dozen native animals a day. They are a scourge on the ecosystem. I recorded some video..

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A walk to the Theodore Indigenous Grinding Grooves


A walk today to have a look at the Aboriginal Grinding Grooves in Theodore, Tuggeranong, Australian Capital Territory. It has been several years since I had been there and I wondered about their condition co-existing with suburbia as they do. Interestingly on this trip I noted new informative signage installed a short way from the grooves. It is only a short walk from the Canberra Nature Reserve of Tuggeranong Hill entry on Christmas Street. You may have to clear out debris from the grooves but they are still perfect.


 From the signage..

Enlarge to read..

Monday, June 26, 2017

Gibraltar Creek Remote Camera and Audio Recorder Recovery


On the 15th of June I placed an audio recorder and a camera trap from a small clearing where a gully confluences with the Gibraltar Creek. The Sony note taker had enough lithium flavored goodness to run for a full seven days and the camera several months if I left it there. Exactly a week later on the 22nd of June I returned to the location and took a little video along the way. This I suppose is just an example of the process I use to capture wildlife. If I was setting the gear just reverse the process.

p.s if an ad turns up on this video its because a section of it has the radio playing in the background and the youtube content id algorithm detected Autumn In New York (Live (1957/Newport)) - Oscar Peterson 0:39 - 1:18 Those Google kids..


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Make Australian Fox Fur Fashionable


I plan to just shoot from the hip this post. Feral cats and foxes are a curse. As a young man I spent years whenever the opportunity arose to shoot any fox or feral cat I came across. During the 80’s in fact the town of Ariah Park in the Riverena had a fox skin competition with a tallyboard in the pub.

Foxes were shot nightly somewhere or other in the area during the winter months when the pelts were lushest. The locals used to pool the skin proceeds for a town social event and these funds, which could be substantial for the day when hundreds of foxes were shot and a skin with tail could fetch$42.

Year after year when I attended a few weekends each winter I thought to myself there has to be less than last year but that never seemed to be the case. And.. then came the anti-fur crusade. Fox skins for fashion were bad and the animal loving public somehow emotively agreed. Skin prices plummeted to an average of $4 and everyone seemed to stop shooting in earnest. The fox had bolted..

In 7 years of setting camera traps, apart from macropods, the most common animal I would capture is the feral red European fox. I have recorded from Shanahan’s Mountain in the south through to the Bullen Range. Every location has an overly viable fox population with each animal killing several native species per day. This realisation became particularly poignant to me recently as I entered the predator proof sanctuary at tidbinbilla.

I was lucky enough to have the sanctuary, it seemed, all to myself. I had only walked on the bush litter lined asphalt path a short way when I was startled by a gentle rustling of leaves near my feet. I looked down an there was a bandicoot,  at my feet, busily snuffling along through the litter looking for a feed, unafraid of me.

The fact that this animal lived in a predator free environment saw a natural interaction from what would have been a very easy prey if not so safely located. That Sanctuary is an island of wildlife that would live only a short time in the surrounding feral plagued environment. But that's not how it has to stay..

Fun facts.. Canberra used to have Bilbies  and a dozen other small native species. Koalas were recorded in the trees of the old Tuggeranong Schoolhouse. Brushtailed wallabies used to hop the rocky outcrops of Namadgi National Park. Quolls were so numerous they threatened families poultry.Why no more?. Apart from insatiable hunting practices in the past the reason these animals aren't ‘breeding like rabbits’ is the fault of predation by foxes and cats. Reintroduction to predator free environments is key.

I agree entirely withe Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews plan to remove 2 million feral cats from the environment.  I agree wholeheartedly because cats have currently established themselves in 98% of Australia's ecosystems to their detriment. Feral cats can kill 10 native species a night. An eradication of 2 million cats equates to saving 20 million native species a night.

As for foxes.. I am serious about their eradication by the lure of the holy dollar. The fashion industry needs to look at their role in conservation efforts in this country. A feral fox is not a baby harp seal. It is not a processed mink. Its a beautiful fur wrapped around the carcass of an insatiable invasive carnivore that is rapidly robbing Australia of its remaining native species. Make it popular to sport a fox fur coat in Canberra. Cover your car seats in fur. Make earmuffs, oil dipstick wipers.. the uses are endless. Put a value on the skin of an animal not suited to existing in this country. Create an industry. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Checking out a scarred tree on Isabella Drive


I know of probably 20 or so authentic Aboriginal scarred trees dotted around the landscape of suburban Canberra. I have posted a few times on this blog about them. Most I discovered the location by researching trees already documented by others but some from simply 'seeing' them on my wanders.

I had driven up Isabella Drive probably thousands of times over the past 30 years but for some reason this tree caught my eye from the roadway. It is not what I suspected and I took some video..