Dragonfly Environmental

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Tracking a feral animal? Here’s how to get it right!

Properly identifying and tracking an animal is an essential skill for any practising ecologist. The following is a series of techniques that will allow for efficient and accurate tracking using the tracks of an animal.

Many animals classified as feral (such as cats, dogs and foxes) have four padded feet that make complete contact with the ground. This feature is fantastic for differentiating feral animals from five-padded native animals such as possums, quolls and wallabies.

Other track identifying characteristics include the shape, size and foot placement of the animal when they walk. Usually dog prints are larger than a foxes which are then followed by a cats print (Illustrated in the figure below).

Fox and dog prints can be differentiated by the size and shape of the print. A fox print is usually more oval in shape than that of a dogs print and the prints should be fairly close to one another. Cat toes are more compressed and arranged in a semi-circular form around a central pad. This results in a more circular print which is smaller in size. As cats have retractable claws, there is usually no sign of claws in the print.

Despite having this knowledge, it can still be difficult to identify some of the most common feral animals especially when you consider the large size variation in domestic dog breeds.

Dragonfly Environmental are continuing to maintain the saltmarsh and estuary rehabilitation works in Penrhyn – a site which has had continuous fox presence. These foxes impact not only the migratory birds but also the oyster catchers and nested terns that reside there. More information on this project is provided on our website: http://www.dfe.net.au/projects/ecological-restoration/

Special acknowledgment to Andrew Hide and Scott Thompson for this information: http://www.terrestrialecosystems.com/tracking-a-feral-would-you-get-it-right/

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Study: Australian Wetland Birds Flee Farther From Walkers Than Canoes

birdFor this study, published in the journal Wetlands Ecology and Management, the researchers approached a variety of duck, grebe, egret, ibis and other bird species in wetlands along the the Darr and Thompson rivers until the birds fled. Using a laser rangefinder, they recorded how far away they were from the birds when they took off, known as the starting distance, and how far the birds flew.
Birds spooked by canoes flew an average of 108 feet, while those set off by walkers flew an average of 156 feet. The results varied depending on species, with the Pacific black duck having the greatest average escape distance at 236 feet from canoes and 354 feet from walkers. White-plumed honeyeaters, on the other hand, flew an average of just 23 feet from canoes and 55 feet from walkers. The Australian darter and intermediate egret both bucked the trend, fleeing farther from canoes than walkers.

Those two species aside, the trend makes sense. The distance of escape flights cane influenced by the speed, noise and shape of the intruder, according to the study. “Most (unmotorised) canoes are slow, quiet, used by non-consumptive recreationists (some are used by hunters), and presumably represent little risk to birds,” the authors write.

If wildlife managers were to use data gathered in this study as a guideline to restrict access and protect the birds, the study would recommend a set-back distance of around 300 feet. But that is “wider than most waterbodies in the study area,” according to the study area, suggesting that some disturbance from boats may be inevitable.

Click here to read more…

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Ecological Consultants Australia

Mia Dalby-Ball of Ecological Consultants Australia presented at the “Future Directions for Coastal, Ocean and Port Management in NSW” Seminar put on by Engineers Australia – Sydney Branch and specifically by the NSW COPEP Committee.  The ½ day seminar was organised by Dr Kate Panayotou Principal Environmental Scientist  Coastal Management and Stakeholder Engagement GHD SYDNEY

Presentations were on a range of topics allowing the audience an opportunity to understand the latest and future directions in our coast, ocean and port industry.

Mia presented on Incorporating Ecological Outcomes into Coastal, Port and Ocean Infrastructure.

It was an terrific day and we have received very positive feedback about the range of presentations, that allowed the audience to gain a real feeling of what are some of the real and tangible future directions in our industry.

People walked away armed with new information, thoughts, innovations and most importantly a feeling that although the future in our industry may be challenging, it is exciting, possible, within our reach and up to us. Thank you Dr Kate Panayotou Principal Environmental Scientist  Coastal Management and Stakeholder Engagement GHD SYDNEY

All the Best

Mia Dalby-Ball


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Returning Habitat

Thirty nine nest boxes were installed at the NRMA holiday park at Umina.

Four owl/galah, 10 possum and 25 micro-bat boxes.

With great feedback from residents and park users.  People came up and said wow and that’s so good and should happen in more places etc.  Most were visiting the park including people from Tamworth, Cains, Victoria plus a very happy neighbouring resident also came to say how good it was.  Plus over 150 locally native trees are being planted on the site.

Installing boxes for micro-bats DFE

Installing boxes for micro-bats DFE

Owl /Galah box  DFE

Owl /Galah box DFE

Attaching supports to boxes DFE

Attaching supports to boxes DFE

Cherry picker in use for installation DFE

Cherry picker in use for installation DFE

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Rosenberg’s Goanna

lizardRosenberg’s Goanna is a monitor lizard and is considered as one of the world’s distinct species. They actively search for prey and rely on detection of scents to facilitate their search. While hunting, they walk with a characteristic swinging pace holding the snout near the ground while flicking in out their long forked tongue and transferring odors to sensory organs.

This lizard reaches up to a meter and a half in length. The upper part of its body is dark grey, spotted finely with white or yellow. It has blackish cross bands from its neck to the tail end. The pairs of thin, regular bands around the overall length of its tail is a unique feature which sets it apart from the common Lace Monitor Vuranus varius, whose bands towards the tail tip are lighter and wider. Rosenberg’s Goanna has finely, also has distinct barred lips while the Lace Monitor has wider bands around the snout. There is a pale-edge black stripe running from the eyes across its ears and onto the neck.

Rosenberg’s Goanna can be found in health, woodland and open forest. They normally feed on birds, eggs, carrion, small mammals and reptiles. They need large areas of habitat and shelters on rock crevices, hollow logs and in burrows that they may dig themselves or may use burrows of other species. When chased, they run around the ground. Lace Monitor when pursued on the other hand climbs trees.

Rosenberg’s Goanna can lay up to 14 eggs in a termite mound and their hatchlings dig themselves out of the mound. They are generally slow moving and are more likely to be seen when the climate is hot on flatlands.

One of their biggest threats they are faced with include loss of habitat and fragmentation as land is cleared and used for agricultural, residential and industrial developments. They are also killed by moving vehicles. They are also a prey to dogs and cats.

Because Rosenberg’s Goanna is one of the endangered species in the world today, targeted strategies for managing them were developed by many organizations that aim to protect and conserve wildlife. They provide some measures to ensure that these animals are protected against predators and other situations that may put their lives to danger.

In areas where the species occur, dogs and cats should be restrained and kept indoors. Fallen timber and termite mounds that are critical habitat component to Rosenberg’s Goanna should be retained especially in areas supporting this species. Woodland, heath and forest remnants should also be retained in the known distribution of the species.

Their habitat should not be fragmented for the purpose of clearing, creating roads and other developments. The remnant populations should stay linked or connected to each other. In the event remnants lose the connective links, re-establishing it should be done by revegetating sites that will serve as stepping stones for distribution.

To lessen instances of road kills, road upgrades or new roads in areas supporting habitat should construct elevated sections to facilitate the lizards passing underneath. As rare as they may be, people, especially those living in areas where the Rosenberg’s Goanna occur should ensure that they provide a suitable and safe living environment for this species.

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Sydney Ports – Protecting Endangered Wildlife at Enfield

golden bell frogThe Green and Golden Bell Frog was once one of the most common frog species on Australia’s south-eastern coast, thriving in large, permanent, open-water swamps or ponds that have a variable water level and dense surrounding vegetation.

However, in recent times factors such as habitat loss and introduced predators have seen their populations decline to the point where they are now listed nationally as vulnerable and in NSW as endangered.

Plans for the Sydney Olympics site at Homebush were amended when the frogs were discovered there, leading to the relocation of the tennis courts and the establishment of new habitats for the frogs.

(Pictured right: The Enfield-Chullora site showing habit areas, frog corridors and ponds.)

Now, with small numbers of the Green and Golden Bell Frog known to be in the Enfield-Greenacre area, just south of Homebush, similar protection efforts are being incorporated into construction of Sydney Ports’ Intermodal Logistics Centre.

Working with the wetland management and restoration group Dragonfly Environmental, Sydney Ports is establishing and will be responsible for managing, a two hectare habitat of ponds, foraging areas, shelters and corridors designed as a refuge for frogs migrating to and around the Enfield-Greenacre area.

Sydney Ports Senior Project Manager, Bruce Royds says the development of the Frog Habitat Creation Area (FHCA) at Enfield will greatly assist in the conservation of Green and Golden Bell Frog populations.

“Sydney Ports has worked closely with experts in the field to develop a habitat management plan designed to ensure optimum water levels in the ponds, that the surrounding environment is kept free of weeds and unwanted vegetation and that frog movement corridors are maintained to encourage interconnectivity between colonies,” Mr Royds said.

“Secure breeding sites for the frogs are scarce, so we are establishing an environment that will mimic, as closely as possible, their natural habitat.”

“A critical part of this process will include artificially raising and lowering water levels in the ponds to emulate nature’s sporadic rainfall and the resulting cycles of full water and drying out.”

“Ultimately, we are working to create a habitat for the Green and Bell frogs that will encourage breeding, foster survival and see their numbers in the Enfield-Greenacre area increase to the point where natural migration patterns in and around the site are re-established and become the norm.”

habitat cronulla habitat cronulla 1 habitat cronulla 2

Cronulla Industrial Estate for Australand 2006-2007. Bitou bush and other noxious and environmental weeds were eradicated from works site. Works included planting of 330,000 plants in stormwater detention facilities and on dune areas. Works included creation of Green and Golden Bell Frog Habitat at the site. Work was completed within 2 months to specifications and within budget.

GGBF habitat enfield DFE


Dragonfly Environmental wetland management and restoration groupis working for Sydney Ports in establishing and managing, a two hectare habitat of ponds, foraging areas, shelters and corridors designed as a refuge for frogs migrating to and around the Enfield-Greenacre area.

Dragonfly Environmental planted the Frog breeding areas (designed by Arthur White) and is continuing to maintain the habitat areas. It’s a great project and the Dragonfly Team are proud to be caring for such important habitat.

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Doonside Reserve and Breakfast Creek for Mirvac Homes and Blacktown City Council 2004 – 2007

Mia 11

Dragonfly Environmental conducted bush regeneration and hard works to restore and maintain the largest remaining stand of the Endangered Cumberland Plain Ecological Community in the Blacktown City Council Area, which comprises of 13 Hectares.  This Involved:

  • maintenance of the riparian zone and terrestrial areas of Breakfast Creek;
  • the translocation of the endangered Cumberland Plain Land Snail;
  • installation of 40,000 plants;
  • construction of 800 metres of fencing and 900 metres of pathways through the reserve;
  • installation of 1km of bollards;
  • design and placement of interpretive signage for the Reserve.

A Weed Management Report was also compiled for the site to outline targets and monitoring requirements that will be carried out by Dragonfly Environmental.

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Oldest Australian Bird!

A Fossil of a bird similar to a modern Egret has been recently discovered in Australia.  Over 1 millions years old the fossil shows the foot prints and landing marks of the bird as it glided in on the muddy ancient shore.  For more information on the fossil seen the link at the end of this page.

A million years after that birds walked the Earth Dragonfly Environmental

is working on projects to rehabilitate and re-create habitat for today’s Egrets and waterbirds.. Out work at Port Botany has include the creation of large Saltmarshes which are being visited by Migratory birds – such as the Saltmarsh creation and rehabilitation at Port Botany.

Migratory Bird Roosting Island

Recent works include the upgrading of the main island that was created for migratory birds to roost on.  High-tide roosting islands, away from disturbance, are of high importance to wading birds.  During September (before the birds come back!) Dragonfly Environmental has worked with Shore Contracting  http://www.shorecontracting.com.au/ to build up the centre of the Island by moving 11,000m3 of crushed sandstone over the sensitive mudflats and onto the Island.

migratory bird


Plus Dragonfly’s works in Wetlands rehabilitation and Creation in and around Sydney are bringing back the birds.  Including Noxious aquatic weed removal in wetlands throughout Sydney particularly Ludwigia peruviana.


So over 1million years after these ‘Egret’ type fossil foot prints were laid down we can continue to celebrate the presents of our Winged relations in the skies and on the Beaches and in the Wetlands.

For more on our projects see http://www.pittwateronlinenews.com/dragonfly-environmental-profile.php

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Cronulla Industrial Estate for Australand 2006-2007

Mia 10

Dragonfly Environmental completed works at a Cronulla Industrial Estate for Australand within a two month period in 2006 and 2007. Works involved the eradication of Bitou bush and other noxious and environmental weeds from the work site, as well as the planting of 330,000 plants in stormwater detention facilities and on dune areas.