Australian owlet-nightjar

Text and photos by Suzi Duncan (unless otherwise specified)

 

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The Australian owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) is a nocturnal bird.  It is colloquially known as the moth owl.

Not an owl not a nightjar but an owlet-nightjar.

It is found in open woodland across Australia and in southern New Guinea. It is the most common of the owlet-nightjars, and the best known of this secretive family. It is the smallest and possibly most common and widespread nocturnal bird in Australia, and despite suffering from predation and competition by introduced species it is not considered threatened. Grey upperparts and a white, barred front and a distinct dark and pale patterning on the head. In the north of Australia females can also have a rufous morph. The plumage is overall paler in desert populations. It is adapted to live in open woodland, with more pointed wings and larger feet, unlike most of the rest of the family that live in dense forest (though some can and do live in such habitat in Queensland and New Guinea) .

It is not a raptor.

The Owlet-nightjar is in many ways similar to a Frogmouth.

It feeds at night by diving from perches and snatching insects from the air, ground or off trunks and branches, its flight is very acrobatic similar to that of a flycatcher. It may also feed on the wing. It feeds on most insects, particularly beetlesgrasshoppers and ants. It grabs prey with its small flat broad beak. It does nor have the strong powerful legs and talons that a bird of prey has.

During the day they roost in hollows in trees, partly for protection from predators and partly to avoid being mobbed by other birds that mistake them for owls.

The Owlet-nightjar is easily harassed out of it’s hole by a number of bigger birds and even brushtail possums. This small bird has a tiny broad bill, cat like whiskers, pink feet and a longish tail. Its large brown eyes do not reflect light strongly unlike other Nightjars.

Although being common the Owlet-nightjar is not often seen because of spending its days roosting in a hollow. It can sometimes be seen peering curiously from the hollow or sitting in the entrance sunning itself, especially on cold, sunny winter mornings. Due to the markings on its head it is frequently mistaken for a Sugar glider.

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Note the similar facial pattern and colour between the Sugar Glider and the local Owlet Nightjar

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Sugar Glider. Source: unknown

 

On observation, every night for half an hour before leaving the hollow the Owlet-nightjar does exercises, stretching and flexing getting ready for flight. This was a nightly routine. Its departure is very quick. You do not actually register it with your own eyes. Departure and return to the hollow were never picked up by a trail camera nor was it caught by my own camera. The best I could get was a grey streak.

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Getting Ready to fly.

 

Funding Opportunity: Deer, Fox, Rabbit Control

Got a rabbit problem? Join the club.

Deer made themselves at home on your block? You’re not alone.

Fox patrolling your place at night? We’re listening.

Council is showing it’s support for landowners by rolling out a 3-year pest animal management program, funded with the support of the Victorian Government. You may have read all about it in our latest Spring edition of the Rural Newsletter, which can be found here.

If you’d like to see on-ground action, we want to hear from you and your neighbours. Tell us what your pest animal issue is, what you’re currently doing and/or how you’d like to get involved in the program.

Jane and Katherine from the Land Management and Biodiversity Team will host a community drop-in session next week, where you can come at any time to chat about the project. There’ll be plenty of information on pest animals, control options, monitoring and the project area. Details below, we look forward to seeing you then.

What: Community Drop-in Session, Pest Animal Management program

Where: Church Street Park, Church Street Whittlesea,

When: Wednesday 5 December from 9:30am

Landcare Grants Available

National Landcare Program – Smart Farms Small Grants – open for application

The Australian Government is inviting organisations through an open competitive process to apply for the National Landcare Program – Smart Farms Small Grants

The program aims to protect, conserve and provide for the productive use of Australia’s water, soil, plants and animals and the ecosystems in which they live and interact, in partnership with industry, communities and other governments.

Applications close at 11:30 pm AEDT on 11 January 2019.

For further information about eligibility and how to apply, go to the Grant Round Application page.
Information about applying for this funding round can also be found on GrantConnect.

NationalLandcare

Workshop Wrap-up: Blackberry Control Demo Day

On Saturday, the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce (VBT) hosted a blackberry control demonstration day. The workshop was put together in response to productive conversations had at the VBT ‘Future opportunity and challenges for invasive species management’ forum held in Whittlesea back in May. Rural land managers were keen to learn more about integrated blackberry control and innovation so on Saturday the VBT, together with our local blackberry action group and supported by council, delivered on just that.

Attendees, including local residents, Landcare and Whittlesea & Surrounds Blackberry Action Group (W&SBAG) members mingled over morning tea in the sunshine before the demonstrations commenced. First up was a mulching excercise, conducted by a member of the Indigenous Design Environmental Services Team. Attendees kept their distance and looked on in awe as the mulcher made an easy meal of dead canes that had been treated with herbicide some time ago. Physical removal of blackberry enhances control results by reducing biomass, improving access and saving money in the longer term. However, mulching works best as part of an integrated control program, as it doesn’t necessarily eliminate the need for herbicide treatment.

Next up, Nathan from Advanced UAV showed the group his drone in action. Equipped with a 10L tank for herbicide, the drone is superbly accurate and can be programmed to move systematically across a defined area and seamlessly around obstructions such as farm sheds and tall paddock trees. T

Finally, just before we all tucked into a wonderful selection of sandwiches provided by a local bakery, Chris (W&SBAG project officer) and Roger (Kinglake Landcare) demonstrated the use of a spray rig. While many of us think we’ve got this method down pat, Chris and Roger were quick to point out some key operating and maintenance tips that ensure your rig, and its many components, have a longer operating life. The Kinglake Landcare group offer their rig for single day or weekend loans at a very reasonable rate. Landowners just sign a quick borrowing agreement, pay a small refundable deposit, and they’re on their way. Chris and Roger talked about the importance of equipment loans and sharing to make weed management more affordable and time effective, particularly for groups of neighbouring land managers.

The Land Management and Biodiversity Team would like to thank the Lyn Coulston and Barton Roberts of the VBT for hosting a fantastic morning of knowledge-sharing. Also a big thanks to Chris Coburn and Roger Cook from Kinglake Landcare, W&SBAG chair Peter Rutley, Adrian (landowner, property host) and all of the attendees who came along.

For detailed information on integrated blackberry control, click here to visit the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce website.

If you’d like further information on the above, contact the Land Management and Biodiversity team on 9217-2147.

 

 

Demonstration Day: Blackberry Control Techniques

VBT

&

 Whittlesea & Surrounds Blackberry Action Group (W&SBAG)

Present

‘Demonstrating Effective Blackberry Control Techniques’

 Date: Saturday 6th October- 9.30am – 12.30pm

Location: Eden Park

Morning tea and lunch provided.

Demonstration activities:

Drone spraying demonstration– Advanced UAV

Mulcher demonstration– Indigenous Design Environmental Services

Demonstrating the use of a spray rig– Chris Coburn –W&SBAG project officer

&

Information on current weed programs

RSVP by the 3rd October. Essential for location and catering purposes.

Contact Barton Roberts 0409 332 258 / vbt@vicblackberrytaskforce.com.au

Bugged Out Festival October 14

On Sunday 14 October, head down with friends and family to City of Whittlesea’s FREE Bugged Out Festival (11am-3pm). You’ll get the chance to see some local bugs and reptiles up close, have a go at making traditional damper (and eat it with honey!), go on a nature scavenger hunt, hear different frog calls and even have the chance to win a FREE family pass to Museums Victoria. There will also be a $1 sausage sizzle hosted by Epping North Scout Group.

Council is moving towards waste free events and will be encouraging event goers to bring their own coffee cup and water bottle to use on the day. A water bottle refill station will be set up and you can grab a barista made coffee for $3! So don’t forget your reusables!!!

Hope to see you there.

BuggedoutJPG

 

 

2019 Environmental Works Program: Applications Open 1 September

EWG

Is your property greater than two hectares and zoned for rural land use? If yes, then you are eligible to apply for Council’s Environmental Works Grant Program 2019.

The Environmental Works Grant Program provides a financial incentive for rural landholders to protect and enhance Whittlesea’s biodiversity. Grants of up to $1500 are available for:

  • Fencing projects which permanently protect remnant vegetation from livestock
  • Fencing and planting around farm dams
  • Revegetation projects including shelterbelt establishment
  • Environmental weed control within areas of remnant vegetation.

Apply online: Details of the Program’s guidelines and the online application form can be accessed at Council’s website http://www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au (key word search “Environmental Works Grant”)

Contact: Jane Juliff, Landcare Facilitator on 0417 127 841 or jane.juliff@whittlesea.vic.gov.au for more information or to discuss a project idea.

Applications close 30 November 2018.

 

You’re Invited: Whittlesea Agribusiness Dinner

Dear friends,

The City of Whittlesea Agribusiness program is very pleased to invite you to the fourth annual Agribusiness Dinner, to be held Saturday 25th August at the Growling Frog Golf Course.

It’s again time to gather the City of Whittlesea farming community and its supporters together, celebrate a successful year and a fruitful Spring ahead. Come along and enjoy an evening of local food and wine, conversation and ideas.

This year, we are pleased to announce that Dr Charles Massey, author of the book “Call of the Reed Warbler – A New Agriculture, A New Earth” will be keynote speaker. Charles has managed Severn Park, a 1820 ha sheep and cattle property on the Monaro for 40 years. He is a leader in regenerative agriculture systems, a Research Associate of ANU and has been awarded an OAM for services to the Wool Industry and Community. He will introduce to you his vision for the future of agriculture.

The dinner will again be fully catered with locally grown produce, with a three course menu full of heart-warmingly traditional fare on offer this year.

Please join us for a fabulous evening of friends, local food and inspiration!

See the event flyer for details or go to Eventbrite to book. Tickets are strictly limited and sell quickly, so please book early to avoid disappointment. Feel free to share amongst your networks.

For any queries or further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email annemaree.docking@whittlesea.vic.gov.au or phone 9214-2593.

Kind regards,

Annemaree Docking (Agribusiness Officer)