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National Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference Adelaide June 2010 Synopsis


The Sulphur-crested cockatoo is an impressive sight especially when they raise their yellow crest, it amazes me how they remain so very white. So I was very pleased when I got the opportunity to care for one. A very nice person called Fauna Rescue saying they had picked up a Cockatoo that was unable to fly. I collected the bird and took it to the a very kind vet in Cannonvale who told me to keep the bird in a small cage for at least 5 day then into my aviary until it was fit for release.

Well that’s when the fun started, Houdini as I nicknamed the bird is a wild bird and didn’t take kindly to being locked in a small cage. If you didn’t know Sulphur-crested cockatoos like to chew things, well every thing. they have the most powerful beak. My nice wooden perches I set up were demolished and the lovely leafy branches I put on and in the cage were destroyed.
Soon some bird friends arrived on my balcony, which helped Houdini settle into his/her new environment and a cover (which also got chewed) over part of the cage made the bird feel more secure.
I try to explain to Houdini that he/she was in the cage for a reason but the bird didn’t seem to understand and all I got for my trouble was hissed at and if I wasn’t careful Houdini would have had my finger for lunch.
Over time Houdini got used to me associating me with food and we even start to communicate answering my ruck ruck calls.
Houdini is now in the aviary and much happier, again as with all my bird care, I have enjoyed the privilege of having such a close association with a wild bird.

Di Jessop

Mulch for an Echidna
By Jacqui Webb

echidna On the 16/4/07 I received a young echidna from one of our other Fauna Rescue Carers. Cathie had to go away so needed someone to take over the care of him. Cathie had been caring for the puggles (baby echidna) since 3/3/07 after he was attacked by a dog. He was just ‘spined’.
Spike, as we proceded to call him was very easy to feed, lapping his wombaroo milk from a bowl, mixed with some small carnivore mix. Spike lived in a large plastic container filled part way with mulch in my office.
As I did not have an outside enclosure for echidnas, we rapidly started building. Linden donated her old pool for the walls we lined the bottom with wire and then wired this to the pool wall.  It worked out to be about 3m x3m.

Photo by Sandy Cleland

I was so grateful for the free mulch from Whitsunday Catchment Landcare (WCL), which we picked up free of charge, being Land for Wildlife members. The mulch had been weathered well in a pile in my garden. It was breaking down nicely and full of bark and wood chips. It also had an abundant supply of bugs throughout, ideal for an echidna. We filled the enclosure (after many wheelbarrow loads) about 60cm thick, then layered with dry leaves placed in some rotting logs and other bits of wood and created a few hidey holes for the echidna.
Spike was introduce slowly to his new home, a few hours a day to start with, until now he is outside all the time. He has a lovely time foraging in the mulch for the bugs and burying deep into the mulch and leaf litter.
Many thanks to WCL, for providing the mulch to landowners, not only has it helped in my garden, for the plants that help to feed not only our rescue animals, but also the wild birds and butterflies, it is also helping to create a natural environment for Spike while he is in care. Spike will be released soon, back to where he was found, but I’m sure this enclosure and future loads of mulch will come in very handy for future echidnas.

housing  mulch  mulch

echidna  echidna

Photos by Gerry O’Connor

Phil Emmanuel's talk to Fauna Rescue
Photos & story by Sandy Cleeland

Pictured is a water python or rainbow serpent dark on top with yellow underneath – not unlike a yellow bellied black snake. A beautiful sheen of rainbow colours can be seen.

The talk was brilliant. The expected 1 hour stretched to over 2 hours. Phil talked about his traveling band family and how he couldn’t have cats & dogs, because of their transient lifestyle, so he started collecting lizards and progressed to snakes.

Phil discussed the colouring of snakes. How people misidentify snakes. Black snakes can vary considerably from black to blond. Black snakes and brown snakes are quite often confused.

Phil talked about the rat and mouse plagues in the western areas and how the farmers have stopped killing off the brown snakes the balance has been restored. Snakes are drawn to poultry sheds because of the smell of rats and mice. Snakes preferred foods are rats & mice but the odd chook goes down as well.

He explained how we should all be careful walking in the bush. To look before stepping over logs as snakes come out from their homes and like to bask in the sun. If you see a snake, stay still, it has an 8 second memory and if you stand still it will forget you were there, and then you slowly walk away.

Snakes have a home range if they are relocated its not unlike taking a blind person to another home and expecting them to fend for themselves not knowing where to get food or water.

Domestic reared snakes are usually happy and easy to get along with, they are very economical and easy care pets that don’t demand feed every few hours. As long as they have warmth, a small hiding hole or box and get fed every few weeks they are happy.

This is only a tiny portion of things discussed. We divided into various groups talking and other having their photos taken.

Thanks to all who attended.

Fauna Rescue would like to thank Rebecca and dad David Barwell for bringing the snakes in for us. Phil had organised to collect some on his way up from Mackay but as he was leaving from Proserpine airport the next day this was no practical. So thanks again to the Barwells for coming to the party.

I would like to thank Barbara Moody for organizing and talking to Phil about Fauna Rescue and putting the idea forward to me.

Thank you Phil for talking to us on your favourite topic. Hope we can organise another talk with you when the weather is a little kinder, summer time would be marvelous.

Photos of some who attended

Sue & Phil
Rebeca with her dad, David Barwell
Phil Emmanuel and water python
Cate Morris
Leigh Skead
Nick Taylor

Pacific Black Ducklings
By Jacqui Webb
Photos by Sandy Cleeland & Janie White

On the 10th April I received 8 Pacific Black Ducklings from Karensa (QPWS), Lindeman Island. Apparently the nest had been destroyed. They tried to reunite with Mum but she was not the least bit interested.

It was a real novelty to get these little guys in. I had cared for loads of Black Ducks whilst in Adelaide, in fact every duck breeding season you could guarantee we would get quite a few into care. The mothers used to nest in suburbia, near peoples swimming pools! But that was 10 years ago. Here in the Whitsundays though we hardly saw these babies. I have only had 2 black ducklings in care since moving here.

We set them up with a small cage inside, under a heat lamp for warmth at night and a feather duster hanging in the cage as substitute mum.
During the day they were placed outside on the grass to get lots of fresh air, sunshine and learn to hunt bugs. We fed them a mixture of chicken crumble/wombaroo insectivore mix/baby cereal/egg and biscuit mix/calcium. This was supplemented with mealworms and beetles plus duck weed and chopped up spinach. They also had a shallow dish of water for bathing in which they took to ‘like ducks to water’.
They were very entertaining to watch. There seemed to be a leader who would always take the initiative to do something first, whether it was chasing a bug or having a bath. All the others would then follow suit. There was also one who was always very vocal and I soon learnt to stop rushing outside to see if there was something wrong.

These little guys thrived, growing very quickly, so it wasn’t long before we had to erect a bigger enclosure for them and provide them with a baby bath, which they loved.
On May 24th they were nearly fully fledged, I would estimate only a few more days till they started flying. Janie, from QPWS kindly organized a flight back to Lindeman Island and picked them up on her way to work. They were released that day on a big dam there, where the other black ducks live.

The Friar Bird Story Or The miracle of our native wildlife

I was called out to the big round about at the back of bi-lo from a nice man who was walking his dog that morning and noticed 4 baby birds on the ground, and knowing the area had many cats and dogs was worried for the birds.
I went to the area and sure enough there are 4 young friar birds hopping about on the ground with mum and dad flittering about feeding them.

Firstly I looked for a nest but to no avail so then I tried putting them up on a branch together as I was frantically being attacked by the protective parents, being the young agile birds that they are there was no hope of them staying in the branches also the green ants were looking at them as a meal , so after an hour of trying to get them somewhere safe where the parents could look after them, I decided I would have to bring them into my care.

I got them home and put them into a big cage that my old neighbour donated to me before they moved on, I got them all settled in, and gave them a feed of some insects that I had frozen.

About an hour later to my surprise Grandma, a friar bird that came into care about 3 years ago when she was young with an injured wing from a car accident, started to take an interest in them. She was checking out the cage and looking for a way in, and I wasn’t sure how these birds took to having other young in their territory so I left the door closed just in case.

Anyway she flew off and I thought nothing of it until I heard the babies crying and looked outside and here she was feeding them.

I wasn’t sure if she would keep feeding them or if it was a one off. So the following photos are of this lovely bird feeding young that aren’t even hers while still attending her nest. She eventually fed and raised all four of them and I opened the cage door so she could have better access and when they were ready she called all of them out to the trees in the creek, where they are all still healthy and happily living.

It makes you think that it is a shame humans can’t be more like this.

Cheers , Carmen,
Fauna Rescue of Qld - Nov 2005

A New Chapter

By Judith Pannan

By the end of July I was starting to get that familiar dreaded knot in my stomach. The reason for this - finalising a date for this year's release of my mob of 5 EGK's (plus one in pouch) and 3 whiptails. My aim was to get the mob out just after the start of our spring rain to allow for some green pick and, yet, on the other hand, wishing for them to settle in their new environment before we encountered any serious rain.
The date chosen - 2nd September.
This mob was more complex than others in the past for two reasons :-
     (a) they were being 'hard' released; and
     (b) there was greater variation in each animals needs.

Gerry O'Connor & Derek Webb were kind enough to lend Kenny and I a hand on the day.
This was much appreciated as Releases can be a handful at the best of times, and ideally bagging up 8.5 animals should be done in an efficient and organised manner. We got 7.5 bagged on the day - Kevin (largest of the Whiptails) flatly refused to go on the picnic with the rest of the gang. He was left behind with much annoyance on my part.

The release was a dream. Those sedated came out of sedation nicely, and those not sedated were relaxed. At first instance they sauntered off in a couple of different directions, but within 20 minutes they were all mobbed together and calm.
(Occasionally in the past I have experienced my mobs being placed in a half-way situation going ballistic and hitting into fences. This is harrowing trying to settle them down).
We laid a sorghum feed tray out and scattered lucerne around the dam bank as a 'starter' for the mob.
24 hours later we had Kevin in the bag and released at the same site. (Kevin's hormones was where he came unstuck and allowed me to catch him !!). We never sited the mob the next morning, nor have I had any feedback regarding the mob from the graziers who allowed us to release onto their property.
I sit here reflecting on the whole operation. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, the timing was perfect. We received the heavier rain I was desirous of obtaining last weekend - just two weeks after release. Moreover, I strongly sensed the changes that came over my charges immediately their circumstances changed. All their senses 'came alive'. I was filled with anticipation with my first hard release, but I know it was right for my animals and that a softer approach by way of half-waying would not have granted them any additional benefits.
Alas my journey with Fred, Nikita (& bubby) Woody, Julie, Bubble, Kevin, Rosie & Cassie ended on the 2nd September. It was time for our goodbyes and to continue on different roads. It was a time of much sadness/happiness.
Another season has already started for me with 5 young Eastern Grey Kangaroos plus one tiny Rock Wallaby in care.

Why do we care about the animals? So cuddly and so soft,
They maybe sick or injured, some orphaned, lost and scared,
To us they are a being. Be it on ground or sky aloft,
Let's get them back to nature. They all will know we cared.

To be a foster-parent, Treat wounds; give food, kindness and all your love,
Will bring you very close. But keep in mind, it's not their native home,
One day, when they will be well or old enough to leave, to run or fly above,
You've done your job, have pride within your heart. There's many more to come.

Along the way, you lose one, to injured or to weak, there's nothing can be done,
That's just the ways of nature. It would be nice to win them all,
You tried, you did your best, don't lose heart. They've sadly been and gone,
But rest assured. A little friend will need you. You'll get another call.

They are our native animals, To be free, to this land born,
Let's help the ones in trouble, and give them another chance,
Give help. Give care and all your love. But never get forlorn,
In natures world we'll see them. To sing. To walk. To prance.

Derek Webb. July 2, 2001

On Saturday 5th October 2002 we released a pelican at Proserpine dam.
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A couple of weeks back , I was sitting outside my house having a glass of lemonade. It was just on dusk and several wallabies were grazing on my lawn. One of them was Gloria whom has been with me since 12th June 1998.
She came to me from Judy Pannan when she was 10 months old for her half waying.

She has had several babies in the time she has been around and while I was sitting there the other day I saw her latest baby who was 6-7 months old , jumping high in the air, then jumping back again.
It dawned on me that this had something to do with a snake as I had seen wallabies jumping high before when a snake was present.
As it was now getting dark I put my glass of lemonade aside ,grabbed a torch and went to investigate.
No sign of the baby , but there was Gloria viciously attacking a tree - or so it seemed.

On closer looking I saw it was a carpet snake which was wrapped around the trunk of a tree. The snake was about five feet long. ( snakes are not measured metrically yet ).
Gloria was kicking the snake , biting it and trying to pull it down out of the tree.
I did expect the snake to try and crush Gloria but it was trying to get out of the way of this frenzied wallaby.

I stayed there with Gloria and the snake , which was now well up the tree and in no hurry to come down again.  With the help of the torch , Gloria and I searched for the baby but to no avail.
I realised the worst had happened when Gloria started the mating process again the next day - the baby was dead.

I think when the baby was jumping high in the air in the first place that maybe the snake had it by the tail.
What I do know that a mother wallaby is as protective of it's young as any animal or human.

Even though it resulted in the death of a wallaby , I felt that I had been fortunate to witness something that not many see - nature at work.

Gerry O'Connor

The morning after I had written this story ( 15 days after the above happened ) Gloria appeared with her baby . Thus the story had a happy ending apart from a sore , sorry & hungry snake.



She came to sunny Queensland, the islands and the sea,
To work with all the animals, this was a dream to be,
Crocodiles, koalas and kangaroos, the animals she had never seen,
Nature was so different, to Japan, the only land she'd been.

But in this place, so far from home, a little friend was made,
A baby orphaned kangaroo, and in her arms it laid,
So small, so cute, a love was formed, so may times to feed,
She called it Sary, her kangaroo, and gave it every need.

And now back home, with family and friends, her heart can swell with joy,
As Sary, now has many friends, she might even find a boy,
And one day soon another kangaroo will join them in the pack,
Then Seiko can see them all, the day will come when she'll be back.

Derek Webb

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