Merri Creek Management Committee

Wildlife & Habitat Guide for Merriang Landholders

Woodland - Mainly Redgum, open woodland over a grassy groundstorey

Southern Boobook
Ninox novaeseelandiae

Description

A small owl, about the size of a raven, with a chocolate-brown back spotted white and a pale belly, streaked with darker brown. Large golden eyes are framed by a dark mask edged by white.

Habitat needs

  • Woodlands and forests.
  • Selects dense foliage such as the crowns of Blackwood trees, mistletoe clumps or exotic Cypress or Pine trees in which to spend daylight hours (they are harassed by small birds if discovered).
  • A large hollow in a tree is required for nesting. Very large Red gums are important locally.

Threats

  • Loss of large, old nesting trees.
  • Poisoning by pesticide-affected rodents or insects (secondary poisoning).
  • Being hit by vehicles at night.

Things to note

  • This is a fairly adaptable species and survives even in inner city parts of the Merri catchment near urban parklands however this environment is hazardous to survival.

Things to do

  • Retain old trees and ensure replacement trees are allowed to grow to a size suitable for hollows. It takes approximately 100 years for even small hollows to form in Eucalypts.
  • Use rodenticides selectively and as part of an integrated pest management system. Read the label, some rodenticides are less likely to cause problems than others.

The Winter 2004 edition of ‘Bush Matters’, newsletter of the Conservation Partners Program of the National Parks & Wildlife Service of NSW has an excellent article detailing this issue.
http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/PDFs/Bush_Matters_012004.pdf

  Visit the Western Australian Museum’s FaunaBase to view an image and specimen map. Note: the specimen map does not accurately represent distribution within the Victorian volcanic plains.

Rufous whistler
Pachycephala rufiventris

Description

A small, energetic bird to 17cm long. Males have buff to reddish underparts, grey crowns and a black mask surrounding a white bib. Females have greyish upperparts and dull white underparts with darker streaks

Habitat needs

  • Woodlands with grassy, leaf-litter or shrubby understorey.

Threats

  • Woodland dieback, deterioration of understorey vegetation.
  • Fragmentation of woodland that favours dominance by Noisy Miners. This highly territorial native bird tends to chase away other birds.

Things to note

  • This species is migratory, arriving in the area in about September.
  • The male’s loud territorial whistling call is a good indicator of their presence. “Echong” and “Joey Joey” are two attempts to describe the loud parts of its song. These are local names for the Rufous Whistler in some parts of the country.

Things to do

  • Maintain woodland health, in particular healthy, diverse understorey.
  • Retain and foster regeneration of wattles, especially Black Wattles that are particularly rich hunting grounds for insect prey.
  Visit the Western Australian Museum’s FaunaBase to view an image and specimen map. Note: the specimen map does not accurately represent distribution within the Victorian volcanic plains.

Rufous Songlark
Cinclorhamphus matthewsi

Description

Slightly smaller than a starling with streaky, brown upper parts and whitish underparts. The rump is a bright brownish red. There is a prominent eyebrow and the males have a dark line leading from the eye to the base of the black bill. The male is conspicuous in breeding season in late spring when he sings a very loud chirruping song from a series of exposed perches for long periods of the day.

Habitat needs

  • Open grassy woodland or on the edge of woodland with grassland adjacent.
  • This is a ground-feeding bird and nesting bird, dense cover is favoured.

Threats

  • The females nest on the ground below grass tussocks or other dense cover. It is thus vulnerable to harvesting, grazing animals or burning during the breeding season.

Things to note

  • This species in migratory, arriving in spring in the local area to breed. They become very quiet and unobtrusive after the young fledge in about November.
  • Dead exposed branches in small trees and shrubs appear to be particularly important features for displaying male birds.

Things to do

  • Maintain Grassy Woodland habitats
  • Maintain structures such as dead trees within grassy woodland habitats.
  • Where breeding is suspected, minimise disturbance to the surrounding area.
  • Time ecological burns outside of the main breeding season (spring) for ground nesting birds.
   

Imperial Hairstreak Butterfly (Common Imperial Butterfly)
Jalmenus evagorus

Description

A medium sized butterfly (to 35mm across) with metallic, silvery blue wings broadly margined with black. The undersides are a pale gold colour with wriggly black lines. Fragile ‘tails’ on the hind wings wave about in the wind. The caterpillars are gregarious and have hard, scaly green bodies with black lines. Caterpillars and the black shiny pupae are attended by black ants.

Imperial Hairstreak Butterfly

 

 

Habitat needs

  • Open woodland woodland edges with regenerating wattles.

Threats

  • Loss of a diverse habitat structure with regenerating wattles
  • Absence of the host ants, possibly from deterioration in the suitability of the surrounding Native Grassy habitat such as happens after invasion by dense pasture grasses.

Things to note

  • This species is very prominent in summer when the butterflies emerge on warm days and males swarm around females.
  • The butterfly is in the egg stage in winter.
  • Caterpillars are protected by small black ants, attracted by essential amino acids.
  • Cocoons are often clustered together and nestle under a loose web.
  • Small, scrubby wattles often seem to be favoured.
  • A high population may lead to the defoliation or death of a small tree.
  • Locally this species occurs on Blackwood, Black and Silver wattles.

Things to do

  • Maintain a diverse vegetation structure in woodlands, stimulate regrowth of wattles by controlled fire or soil disturbance.
  • Protecting remnant understorey from fertiliser runoff, pesticide drift and invasion by vigorous pasture grasses and weeds.
  Visit the CSIRO Entomology website to view an image and specimen map. Note: the specimen map does not accurately represent distribution within the Victorian volcanic plains.  

Sacred Kingfisher
Todiramphus sanctus

Description

A medium sized Kingfisher (20-23cm) with a massive bill and green and blue upper parts. The underparts range from white to buff. The call is distinctive kee! kee! kee! kee! which is most often heard when the birds arrive in early summer. In contrast, the Azure Kingfisher has cobalt blue upper, orange under-parts and a stubby tail.

Habitat needs

The Sacred Kingfisher needs;

  • Forest or woodland with an open understorey in which to hunt.
  • Hollows for nesting. Locally use the rotting limbs of willow trees and the trunks of Palms but the eucalypt hollows provide more durable homes.
  • They prefer habitat patches of more than 10 hectares and streamside vegetation more than 50 m wide.
  • Wetlands and creeksides may provide fish, yabbies and aquatic insects.

Threats

  • Loss of old trees with hollows
  • Degradation of streamside and wetland habitat.
  • Loss of hunting perches, including standing dead trees in open areas.
  • Dense vegetation (eg. dense ungrazed paddocks)

Things to note

  • This is a migratory species. It arrives in the catchment around October and leaves in March-April. It winters in northern Australia and Indonesia
  • It commonly hunts from perches, using its keen eyesight to spot prey.
  • It will occasionally fish for yabbies and other aquatic life.

Things to do

  • Retain hollows. It takes over 100 years for a Red gum to develop hollows.
  • Fencing streamside vegetation from livestock damage.
  • Maintaining areas of open understorey with burns or crash grazing.
  Visit the Western Australian Museum’s FaunaBase to view an image and specimen map. Note: the specimen map does not accurately represent distribution within the Victorian volcanic plains.