Raptors harness fire to flush out prey

When ornithologist Bob Gosford reported multiple accounts that both black kites (Milvus migrans) and brown falcons (Falco berigora) were spreading wildfires in northern Australia – which Indigenous Aboriginal people had claimed previously – many other experts were skeptical.

It was not contentious that the birds were spreading fire, but that there was intent behind their action, and that it was nothing more than accidental behaviour.

Gosford then spent the following year collecting additional eyewitness accounts of raptors carrying burning sticks and embers to ignite grassland.

In his latest paper, published in the Journal of Ethnobiology, Gosford added the whistling kite (Haliastur sphenurus) to the group of fire-starting birds.

It is thought that the birds take advantage of lightning strikes that spark wildfires in northern Australia. The raptors have been observed picking up burning twigs from these blazes and then flying to unburnt patches of grassland and forest to drop them, spreading the fire.

The birds will then attend the advancing edge of the fire and catch small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects fleeing the flames.

[Source: IFLS]

Citizen scientists wanted to solve echidna mysteries

The Australian public is being called on to help better understand and conserve our iconic native echidna, by collecting echidna scats (poo) and taking photographs wherever echidnas or scats are spotted.

University of Adelaide researchers are launching a new to address important questions about echidna numbers and distribution and to obtain material for molecular analysis.

The Echidna Conservation Science Initiative or EchidnaCSI researchers have developed a dedicated mobile phone app for instant upload of photos and location, and input of details of the immediate environment and the state, size and activity of the echidna.

The researchers would also like people to use the app to log the scats, then bag and post them to the University research team for molecular analysis.

"Echidnas, and their fellow monotreme the platypus, are the oldest surviving mammals," says Professor Frank Grutzner, who has been leading research in monotremes for the past 15 years. "But surprisingly we know very little about these iconic animals that feature on our coins.

Kangaroo Island cats’ days are numbered

The South Australian government plans to eradicate all feral cats – and the bulk of domestic cats – by 2030.

THE DAYS OF feral cats on Kangaroo Island are numbered after the South Australian government outlined plans to eradicate all wild felines, and the bulk of domestic pets, in the next 15 years.

With no competition for food, the population of feral cats has risen to an estimated 5000 on the 440,500 hectare isle, causing widespread havoc for its endangered and endemic fauna – including the southern brown bandicoot, Kangaroo Island echidna, Kangaroo Island dunnart and southern emu wren.

There is evidence that densities could be higher on Kangaroo Island than on the mainland, warned Feral Cat Eradication Project Manager, Pat Hodgens. “But even in low numbers feral cats can have a devastating effect on native wildlife,” he said.

Source: Australian Geographic

Global tourism hopes for Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail

Tourism authorities hope a 66-kilometre walking trail which has just been opened on Kangaroo Island in South Australia will become a global drawcard.

"Already we're getting such great feedback from a few international walkers, as well as locals who wanted to be the first ones on it," Environment Department chief executive Sandy Pitcher said.

Walkers pass through bushland wilderness areas and get sweeping views of the Southern Ocean at times.

The trail passes already-popular tourist sites including Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch.

It ends at Kelly Hill Caves, just 11kms from The Woolshed KI, an ideal base camp for your hiking party.

KI marathon promises a run on the wild side

The Kangaroo Island Marathon is one of Australia’s newest long-distance events and is gearing up for its second running in late August.

Australian Olympian Jess Trengove, who will run for gold in the Women’s Marathon in Rio just days before the August 26 event, is the official ambassador of the Kangaroo Island race.

The 42km South Australian race is limited to a field of 500 and will take competitors along the island’s rugged southwest coast and through the pristine Flinders Chase National Park, which includes the iconic Remarkable Rocks, Admiral’s Arch and Cape du Couedic lighthouse.

[Source: InDaily]

Poem: To the Island

Poet’s Corner contributor Sue Cook revisits Kangaroo Island and the memories it evokes in this poem from her new book ‘In Focus’.

He put the Ford ute on the ferry to KI
for his 70th birthday (I went along for the ride).
He’s always been up for adventure,
on a bike, in a Holden, or the ute
pulling the caravan and me along but
no van this time, a holiday house haven.

He flashed his camera through wind and rain
at Remarkable Rocks,
climbing slopes with youthful tourists
(the Rocks no more remarkable than he, I thought)
and communed with seals clustering
under Admiral’s Arch.

At first at Seal Bay we thought we had missed
the natives, saw only improbable trails
in the sand dunes beside the board walk.
Suddenly, sea lions appeared on their sandy stage,
flippering around, flapping and flip-flopping,
heads up, “look at moi, look at moi”
to rousing cheers from onlookers
rugged up in coats and hats.
Too cold for swimming today,
even for sea lions.

Food and warmth beckoned from afar,
the local kiosk shut.
He grabbed the chance to put the ute
into 4WD over the slippery unsealed road
to Marron Café, a gastro-heaven
in the middle of the island
(marron thermidor for me).

When we clinked our glasses I forgot his 70 years,
seeing only the tall boy on his bike,
riding beside me to school.

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Reef dives assess sanctuary impact

The majestic King George Whiting.

Leafy Sea Dragon.

Scientific divers examining coastal waters will inspect the Sponge Gardens Sanctuary Zone. The dives, off the Dudley Peninsula coast of Kangaroo Island and off the nearby mainland coast, form the first survey since fishing restrictions in the sanctuary zones came into force in October 2014. - PSNews

Kangaroo Island welcomes cruise ships

Passengers of Pacific Pearl cruise ship being ferried ashore at Penneshaw.

Light winds and warm weather greeted more than 2500 visitors who came ashore over two days from the cruise ships Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl at Penneshaw..

Island transport resources were put to the test, with visitors utilising hire cars, coaches and a range of tour operators to visit a broad cross section of the island.

Participants were very positive about their exposure to local product and farm gate experience with many vowing to return.

The Islander


A paradise on earth

Get up close with Australia’s iconic animal, the kangaroo, as well as other loveable wildlife on this island. Photos: SA Tourism Commission

Ask around and locate at least one person who has been to Kangaroo Island (KI) and didn’t enjoy their time there. Hah, good luck finding haters, mate! The normal feedback from travellers is that they absolutely L-O-V-E this natural South Australian paradise.

In fact, visitors adore this place so much that they said the time spent on KI – as the locals so affectionately call it – was the most memorable in their whole Australian experience. Honestly, can’t say we’re the least bit surprised.

Historic storehouse saved from crumbling

The recently restored Weirs Cove storehouse in Flinders Chase National Park.

The stone remains of the Weirs Cove storehouse in Flinders Chase National Park have undergone restoration in an attempt to keep their history intact.

Originally completed in 1908, this original Weirs Cove structure was integral to receiving materials and then goods for the remote Cape du Couedic lighthouse and its keepers.

Flinders Chase National Park ranger Mike Penhall said, at the time, there were no roads that led to the South Western corner of Kangaroo Island, making it one of the most remote and isolated parts of the state.