Latest News

Stay up to date with all the latest news on Nature Foundation's programs, projects and activities!

Loxton Riverfront Reserve - Getting Curious with Water For Nature

We'd love you to join us for an evening stroll along the beautiful River Murray - soak up the beauty of the surroundings while learning more about the wildlife that lives there. Enjoy talks from local experts, with plenty of time for questions and discussion. You'll also learn how to contribute to current knowledge about frogs and bats in particular!

This project is supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscapes Board through funding from the landscapes levies.

Please contact Jacqui on 0400 036 843 for further information.

Visit the Nature Festival program.

Successful Revitalising Private Conservation in SA grant recipients announced

The successful recipients of the Linking Landscape round of the Revitalising Private Conservation in South Australia program have just been announced by the Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs. This second round of grants will deliver more than $3 million of large-scale native vegetation conservation projects across South Australia.

Read more here 

📷 Admiring a KI Heritage Agreement. (Rebecca O’Leary)

Leech removal is not the primary driver of basking behavior in a freshwater turtle

Dr Eric Norberg, the 2020 Mike Bull Award winner in Nature Foundation’s research grants program is one of the authors of this article ‘Leech removal is not the primary driver of basking behavior in a freshwater turtle’. The researchers examined the number of leeches that were removed from Krefft's river turtles (Emydura macquarii krefftii) after experimentally making turtles bask at a range of times of day, durations, and temperatures. They found that leech removal does not appear to be the purpose of the majority of basking events. Read the full article here.

Find out more about research grants.

📷 Dr Eric Nordberg and Kreft's River Turtle; Photo Rishab Pillai
CANCELLED! 40th Anniversary Dinner

It is with great regret Nature Foundation has made the difficult decision to cancel the 40th Anniversary Dinner planned for 9 October. 

Our first priority is keeping all of us and our community safe. The uncertainty around the current COVID-19 situation in the eastern states and the impact it may have on South Australia, has led us to this decision.

We are investigating other ways to celebrate our 40th year anniversary and Nature Foundation’s amazing achievements made possible by so many of you.  Please keep your eyes peeled for further details.

 
Port Augusta Bird Observers Group at Witchelina


Last month Witchelina Nature Reserve was the destination for the Birds SA affiliated Port Augusta Bird Observers Group, The Babblers, who were keen to get snaps of the elusive Chestnut-breasted Whiteface recently sighted on the property.

On their first afternoon, the seven birders headed to where the bird had been sighted. Although they spotted Mulga Parrots and White-breasted Woodswallows there was no joy on the Chestnut-breasted Whiteface.

The next day they walked around the homestead and along a dry creek bed, finding a range of birds including Zebra Finches, a Wedge-tailed Eagle, an Elegant Parrot, White-plumed and Singing Honeyeaters, Black-faced Woodswallows, Tree Martins, Striated Pardalote and an Owlet Nightjar.

Although the nearby dam was dry, White-winged Fairy-wrens, Welcome Swallows, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, White-browed Babblers and more were spotted in the surrounding scrub.

Still on the lookout for the Whiteface, the group set off to drive the 117km Dunes – Wildflower Nature Drive which took them through rocky hills, gibber plains, bluebush plains and sand dune country. Along the way they spotted Cinnamon Quail-thrush, Whistling Kites, Rufous Fieldwrens, Chirruping Wedgebills and a Thick-billed Grasswren amongst others. As they drove along the eastern boundary through bluebush plains, some Whiteface were seen and heard but the group were unable to confirm whether they were Chestnut-breasted or not. They had to be satisfied with photographing a flock of Chestnut-crowned Babblers instead.

They next morning they set off along the 90km Bungarider Nature Drive. As they drove along a creek bed near the homestead, they added Purple-backed Fairy-wrens, Mallee Ringneck, Southern Whiteface and Common Bronzewings to the bird list.

Birds were scarce in the dry, bare rocky hills country but as they crossed a bluebush plain, some small birds flew off. After following them on foot they were met with success! They spotted four Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, and to top it off, they also sighted a Thick-billed Grasswren.

“A total of 36 bird species were seen,” said Bernie Haase, trip leader, “but the birds of the trip would have to be the Chestnut-breasted Whiteface and the Thick-billed Grasswrens”.

The elusive Chestnut-breasted Whiteface is currently listed as Near Threatened in South Australia under SA legislation - National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

Photo: Elusive Chestnut-breasted Whiteface at Witchelina (credit: Richard Croll)

Planting more Emu-wren habitat

Whilst hard at work planting 800 sedges and lignum seedlings, Nature Foundation and Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Association (GWLAP) staff were overjoyed to see some Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wrens in vegetation that had been planted a few years ago.

It is living proof that years of growing and planting to increase habitat for the critically endangered species is paying dividends.

This year’s seedlings, grown by Ben Simon, Senior Project Officer, GWLAP, are infill in the revegetation area in this remnant Fleurieu Peninsula swamp, which is listed as a critically endangered ecological community. 

This season GWLAP will plant a further 950 seedlings along the edges of the samphire and rush habitat with species that will benefit the Emu-wrens, infilling gaps between previously planted patches. They will also undertake further weed control.

This planting day was part of a much-valued partnership between GWLAP and Nature Foundation that has been running for the past five years.

Photo: The team were pleased to record Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wrens in Lignum habitat re-established a few years ago (Leah Hunter, GWLAP)
Exciting Latham’s Snipe news this week!

Colleagues at the Wild Bird Society of Japan made another attempt at tagging Snipe in Hokkaido and three of their birds have made it south, flying non-stop from Hokkaido across the Pacific ocean! Latham’s Snipe travel from Japan to southeastern Australia each year to feed. This is the first time satellite tracks have been recorded for a full northward or southward migration.

Our Water For Nature program site at Milang provides Commonwealth environmental water for Latham's Snipe habitat each year. We partner with Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board to manage the watering, and together with local volunteers survey for Snipe each month while they are visiting.

Read more here. 
Rabbits on Witchelina and Hiltaba

With rabbit numbers on the increase on our two largest reserves, Witchelina and Hiltaba, in autumn we commenced a trial biological control with RHDV-K5, a variant of Calicivirus. 

Although rabbit numbers have not recovered to the pre-Calicivirus numbers, they persist in lower densities and impact native vegetation.

We decided to use RHDV-K5 as a serious management strategy, in lieu of the more traditional mechanical ripping of warrens, because of the risk of damaging cultural heritage sites without proper heritage clearances, which is difficult to do over such large areas. Ripping also damages vegetation.

It’s been quite a learning curve for Alex Nankivell, Science and Knowledge Program Manager and John Ovenden, the Rotational Manager overseeing the project on the ground. 

It is not as simple as just releasing the virus: everything has to come together perfectly: no green feed available, flies present to help spread it, trained staff on site for at least 5 days (to carry out the release and 4 days of pre-feeding) and no unweaned kittens present (which develop immunity if their mothers are exposed). The trial at Hiltaba was delayed until early summer because of early rain bringing on green feed and a cold snap making the insects disappear.

Assessing the impact of the trial is ongoing and challenging because it is difficult to know how many rabbits were using each warren before treatment. However, three camera traps located near the treated warrens should provide some information.

The team are putting together internal procedures to assist carrying out the strategy and are developing the Fulcrum app as a tool to make data collection easy for the Rotational Managers via their mobile phones.

Nature Foundation has recently become a corporate member of Rabbit-free Australia, so that we officially become part of the solution to Australia’s rabbit problem, have access to the latest informed commentary about rabbit matters and help fund rabbit-related research and communication programs.

Photo: A shovel-made ‘scrape’ (rabbits are attracted to disturbed soil) sprinkled with ‘pre-feed’ oats (they take a few days to get used to a new food source) near a rabbit warren on Witchelina. (John Ovenden)
Emus and more – on rotation at Hiltaba Nature Reserve

One of the highlights of Rotational managers Greg and Janet’s recent rotation at Hiltaba was coming across a mob of 13 inquisitive teenage emus. The flock slowly approached them as they drove on the Yardea Road. Don’t you like the hairdo on the leader of the pack?

But their rotation wasn’t all bird-watching! They managed to see a lot of flowering mallee and shrubs too. And the Porcupine Grass (Triodia) will look spectacular in the next few weeks as there were plenty of seed heads beginning to grow. 

As always, there was plenty of hard work on their rotation including looking after 14 visitors. Greg spent a lot of time spraying weeds, mowing near the cottages and other handyman jobs. He assisted the neighbouring Lake Everard station managers with a flat trailer tyre – they were taking an ultralight aircraft to Ceduna for a service but didn’t get far. He helped them pump up their tyre and hopefully they got there.

Photo: Head honcho of the emu tribe (Greg Bannon)
Grant makes a big difference

Matt and Kristina delight in seeing the Sacred Kingfisher that is a rare visitor to a dam on their 7 hectare property in Bradbury, a small hamlet in the Adelaide Hills. Grey Fantails are frequent visitors, flitting across the surface. Herons and the Pacific Black duck are regulars too.

“A delightful surprise recently was seeing a Bassian Thrush, and a large family of White-winged Choughs, which we had not seen since 2005,” says Matt. “And at least two species of frogs are present; I often find Ewings tree frogs in watering cans near the lower dam in summer.”

Formerly part of a small dairy farm, one third of the property is remnant vegetation, some of which is in good condition, comprising Stringybark woodland/forest with a mixed understory including Tea tree, Yacca and Lomandra. A flat area next to the remnant vegetation is showing natural regeneration of Stringybarks and Matt and Kristina are protecting it by putting a Heritage Agreement on it so the regeneration can continue.

“Weeds were, are and will be the bane of our lives at Bradbury. The main invaders are Erica, Broom Watsonia and Blackberry, Boneseed, Pittosporum and Pine trees. In the first few years, with the help of an Envirofund Grant we cleared about half the creek line of Blackberry, eliminated most of the Boneseed and planted hundreds of Sheoak, South Australian Blue Gum, Oleara ramulosa and Blackwood. The seedlings are flourishing, and it has been good to see some Tea trees surviving on the banks of the creek.” 

Unfortunately, weeds have gained the upper hand again and although Matt and Kristina are able to spend more time weeding these days, the gains have been small. 

“Thus, we were pleased to receive a Revitalising Private Conservation grant from the South Australian Government through Nature Foundation. It has enabled us to employ and benefit from the experience and skills and work of the team from Minimal Disturbance Bushcare," says Matt.

"Removing scattered Erica from the best areas of native vegetation has been a priority while we have plodded on plucking small Broom and Boneseed and ringbarking Acacia longifolia and pine trees. With the help of Minimal Disturbance Bushcare we have made good progress having removed hundreds of Erica. Watsonia is next on our agenda.”

“Help makes a big difference to the progress that we can make so we are grateful to Nature Foundation (Claire), Heritage Agreement Branch (Karina) and Minimal Disturbance Bushcare (Danny and team) for their guidance, advice, and work.”

Photo: Flat area adjacent to the best native vegetation where natural regeneration of Stringybarks is occurring (Matt and Kristina) 
 
Royal Flying Doctor Service visits Hiltaba

It was wonderful to welcome the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Hiltaba Nature Reserve for the first SA rural COVID-19 clinic! The Homestead dining room was transformed into a clinic and the lounge became a ‘waiting’ room. Afternoon tea was also served 🙂

Locals enjoyed visiting Hiltaba, with some neighbours meeting for the first time!

The RFDS COVID clinic went very well and will be returning on Monday 19 July to give second Pfizer injections.
Did you miss our Winter Wonders: Geegeela Nature Reserve webinar?

Find out how wildlife is surveyed at one of Nature Foundation’s reserves in the Limestone Coast of South Australia. Guests from Nature Foundation, Nature Glenelg Trust and Scientific Expedition Group discuss the importance of private land conservation and biodiversity in the Bangham district of SA.

Watch the full recording here!

This project is funded by the Limestone Coast Landscape Board through the Grassroots Grants Program.
Scats and swabs on a magical piece of KI

There’s a large coastal bushland property on Kangaroo Island, a magical place that’s home to Peter and James, a whole lot of bush and all sorts of critters.
 
Tired of seeing the wilderness being whittled away and wanting to play a part in protecting some of it, Peter and James bought their block 11 years ago and placed a Heritage Agreement on 100 acres to protect it forever. Since then, they’ve been regenerating the land and actively involved in citizen science projects.
 
Threatened animals such as the Hooded Plover, Kangaroo Island Echidna, White bellied Sea Eagle, Rosenberg’s Goanna and Beautiful Firetail are a frequent, if not daily sighting for them and in spring, thousands of near threatened Hare Orchid appear along with 11 other orchids.

Peter’s been helping out Dr Peggy Rismiller from University of Adelaide’s Echidna Conservation Science Initiative (EchidnaCSI) project since it commenced in 2017. He’s been submitting photos and locations of echidnas and their scats, to help build our understanding of these unique creatures for their future conservation. In this project, Dr Rismiller has teamed up with University of Adelaide molecular researchers including Prof Frank Grutzner and Dr Tahlia Perry and the community, to spot echidnas and to collect scats for molecular analysis to learn more about their diet and health. 

At the moment, Peggy, who has researched KI echidnas for 35 years, and Mike McKelvey are keen to get tummy and cloaca swabs, particularly repeated swabs of the same animal. Molecular information from these can reveal interesting changes during their breeding cycle or as a result of environmental change like the recent bush fires.

As part of this project, Peter has already located two echidnas on his property and Peggy and Mike have swabbed and weighed them. These swabs are sent to Dr Perry at the University for molecular analysis. Peggy also collects all stages of ticks from echidnas for Dr Stephen Barker, University of Queensland. He is piecing together their life history and updating information for his work “Ticks of Australia”. Curiously, the ticks are echidna-specific and remain as eggs in the soil until an echidna ambles past. 

Join leading researchers in echidna and insect biology to learn all about the secret lives of these remarkable species on Kangaroo Island. Free event on KI, 22 August 2021. 
Echidnas are a protected species and these researchers have ethics and DEW permits to carry out this field work.
Photo: Peter Hastwell

Pygmy bluetongue research

Recently Dr Jess Clayton presented to Nature Foundation supporters on her research monitoring translocation as a conservation tool for the endangered Pygmy Bluetongue.

This short video provides a fascinating update on the research being done at Flinders University - with thanks to Associate Professor Mike Gardner.

Photo courtesy Lucy Clive

 
High-tech backpacks help vulnerable Regent Parrot

Karen Bishop, from Riverland West Landcare and Regent Parrot Recovery Team (SA), recently talked to Nature Foundation staff about the beautiful Regent Parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus).

Unfortunately, this slim green, yellow and red parrot is listed as vulnerable in South Australia and nationally, and in recent years numbers locally have halved.

Although we were at our new nature reserve, Murbpook Lagoon near the River Murray, where there were recent sightings, we were not lucky enough to spot any. However, Karen’s authentic models gave us a good idea of what they look like. It’s not surprising that they’re often mistaken for the more common Yellow Rosella but the Regent’s distinctive flight pattern, like a fighter jet darting through the trees, rather than the rosella’s undulating one, sets it apart.

Work to save them is taking place on several fronts. Nature Foundation, a member of the South Australian Regent Parrot Recovery Team, through its delivery of Commonwealth water for the environment is helping to save important Regent Parrot habitat at its Water For Nature sites. It is understood the parrots use tree hollows in red gums for nesting and the death of hundreds of mature trees over the last few decades from reduced river flows is thought to be contributing to the species’ decline.

Plus, Karen fills us in on an exciting new project that is collecting vital data that may help save this species. In this innovative project, high tech backpacks with satellite trackers have been fitted to some of these birds to record their roosting, feeding, and breeding behaviours and locations!

Designed by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board’s Ecology program and the Regent Parrot Recovery Team, these backpacks fit snugly over the birds’ wings and contain a tracker that transmits the birds’ movements throughout the day. A battery recharged by a solar panel allows the tracker to collect data over long periods of time and collects vital information that may help arrest the decline of this iconic species.
 
Karen with Regent Parrot models (A Clark)
Reduce your tax and help save native species at the same time!

As a supporter of Nature Foundation we know you're passionate about protecting and restoring the natural environment that sustains us all. You can help us contribute to the substantial investment needed in the guardianship of nature – our landscapes, plants and animals, and help to stop further native species loss.

Our conservation work has never been more critical and together we can make a big difference to nature, with much we can achieve in the short-term. There is already a great deal of work being done but there is so much more to do!

At this time every year we launch the one appeal where we can generate untied funds to provide crucial financial support for Nature Foundation’s general operations – the Vital Work Appeal. These untied funds enable our organisation to be flexible and responsive in a rapidly changing environment. Conservation work and property maintenance activities on our precious nature reserves are vital for them to prosper. 

Please consider donating to our Vital Work Appeal today so our work can continue.

Nature needs our help now more than ever.  Thank you in advance for your support!
Behind the scenes at Witchelina Nature Reserve

It’s mid-May and Nature Foundation’s Witchelina Nature Reserve in SA’s north is bustling.

The temperatures are in the pleasant mid 20s all week, it’s calm and quiet with only a trace of rain at the beginning of the week.

Rotational Manager Phil Cole chooses to drive up to Witchelina via Clare and Melrose with three other volunteers – a big mistake he discovers when they find roadworks almost continuous from Clare to Wilmington.

As the rostered Rotational Manager, Phil has a wide range of jobs during his week-long stay, including checking in guests, assisting visitors with bookings and enquiries about Nature Drives, and a variety of conservation and maintenance activities.

There are a number of visitors during the week. One is Jane Rusden, Nature Foundation’s current Artist in Residence. Jane goes out with Phil on a couple of occasions as he goes about his work to get a feel for the place, before heading out to camp on her own for a few days. We look forward to seeing the artwork resulting from her residency at the reserve.

Two light aircraft land, having flown for 7 hours from Queensland. Two other visitors, both of whom manage private conservation properties in Queensland, come across our promotional brochure at Wilpena Pound and make the trip to the reserve. They have an enjoyable stay and comment that the Nature Drive notes we provide are the best they’ve seen.

Another guest from Victoria is booked in for two nights but enjoys it so much he stays for four. He kindly helps Phil out with the never-ending task of spraying weeds. Four retired teachers from Lakes Entrance also visit and camp while an NSW couple stay in the more luxurious Bookkeeper’s cottage for a few days. 

Phil also records rabbit and other feral species numbers, so that we know how many are around and can act to keep the numbers as low as possible to let the native vegetation recover.

Decent rain in March means that a significant weed, buffel grass, has come up again. As well as spending several days spraying herbicide on the outbreaks, Phil takes photos at several photo points to assist with recording and managing the weeds. He appreciates using the new spray plant mounted on one of the reserve’s vehicles, which was purchased through funds raised at last year’s Member Tour to Witchelina. He reports it’s much easier to use than the old version, significantly increasing the area he can cover with less effort. 

Phil also makes some environmental observations: there are low levels of kangaroos – great for the recovering vegetation; and disappointingly few Wedge-tailed eagles. But he did manage to spot a few Echidnas.

Thank you, Phil and all our Rotational Managers who make the operation of Witchelina and Hiltaba Nature Reserves run so smoothly.

Photo: A pair of echidnas at Willawalpa Creek, Witchelina Nature Reserve (Phil Cole)

Message from our CEO

I am most excited to launch Nature Foundation’s new branding, as we simultaneously celebrate our 40th birthday this year! In the past 40 years we have achieved much, matured as an organisation and significantly broadened our reach. Our new branding, which builds on the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby from previous logos, reflects our diverse activities and unique approach. It is a contemporary and fresh look for the future, and we hope it will inspire both existing and new audiences to connect with and conserve the natural habitat of South Australia for future generations.

Integral to the update of our brand and logo is our new and improved website which illustrates the breadth of Nature Foundation’s activities and how we can help you, and how you can help us achieve our vision. The new, easy-to-navigate website provides information about our broad-ranging programs, the places and species we work with and how people and organisations can become involved in our work for nature conservation in South Australia.

Our new website also provides fresh customer service and increased access options including making donations and membership payments online, booking accommodation and activities at Witchelina and Hiltaba Nature Reserves and purchasing some of our beautiful newly-branded merchandise online, 24/7!

All who have been involved in the creation of this new brand can be extremely proud of it and what it represents. Thank you to Black Sheep Advertising who have worked with us to create it and Fran Botha for her beautiful design. A big thank you also goes to Daniel Vallejo at The Factory for his tireless work in creating a new user-friendly website. And of course, a big thank you to the Nature Foundation Board and staff for their significant commitment to realise this amazing new branding and website.

Thank you to our members, supporters and partner organisations for your continued support of Nature Foundation and our vital work conserving, restoring and protecting South Australian landscapes, flora and fauna to ensure their survival and grow their resilience.

Over $12,000 for Glossy Black-cockatoo recovery on Kangaroo Island!

Congratulations and many thanks to the team at St John's Grammar School who organised this fabulous auction of eight large kangaroos and 10 mini kangaroos to raise funds for bushfire recovery. A grand total of $23,500 was raised! These funds have been generously distributed to Nature Foundation’s Glossy Black-cockatoo Recovery Program and Kangala Wildlife Rescue.

Organisers Dawn Clarke and Kate Wright named the project “The tROOper Project” because a collective of kangaroos is sometimes referred to as a Troop and it’s also an Australian colloquialism meaning a person who is reliable and uncomplaining, appropriate for the thousands of volunteers who assist in times of crisis! Thank you to all the organisations and artists who donated their time for this great cause.

The Glossy Black-cockatoo (GBC) Recovery Program is one of Australia’s leading examples of how good governance, strategic planning, community commitment and appropriate resourcing can effectively reverse the decline of a critically endangered species. Now extinct on mainland Australia, the endangered Glossy Black-cockatoo has its last refuge on Kangaroo Island.

Find out more about our Glossy Black-Cockatoo Recovery Program