Nature

Thanks be for leaky taps

Apr 24, 2017 | Discuss

Thanks be for leaky taps

I whiled a way an hour or so in Titree recently, watching the antics of a small mob of Major Mitchells taking advantage of a leaky tap. What splendid birds! As the human Major Mitchell remarked (according to Wikipedia): “Few birds more enliven the monotonous hues of the Australian forest than this beautiful species whose pink-coloured wings and flowing crest might have embellished the air of a more voluptuous region.” I don’t know if Titree could be considered voluptuous, but ...Read more

Very important caterpillars get a helping hand

Jan 14, 2016 | Discuss

Very important caterpillars get a helping hand

With video and pics by Nicole Lee When you consider the extent and speed of its spread through the Centre, going into battle against buffel grass may seem like an extreme form of tilting at windmills. It’s hot, hard, backbreaking work that requires eternal vigilance. If you’re not incredibly careful, the more of it you pull out, the more you will spread the seed. Meanwhile, all around your particular warzone, the enemy continues to multiply, unchecked. And yet, as many determin...Read more

Small victories

Jul 12, 2015 | 2 Comments

Small victories

It’s true that from little things big things grow, but maybe it also needs to be said that with big things, little things often go under. A walk up the Todd River with friends the other day yielded an unexpected encounter with the small and beautiful that might not have been there had things gone differently. Friends and I wanted to look at how that section of the river was faring nearly 25 years after the bulldozers went in and almost changed it forever. Junction Waterhole was of course the s...Read more

Queen Bill

May 21, 2015 | Discuss

Queen Bill

    I googled “sacred kingfishers living in aquatic centres” and nothing came up. Could Alice Springs claim yet another world first? “Bill”, as she is known to some staff members, caused concern among lifeguards and regular pool users when she was first noticed, a few months ago. The bird was apparently trapped inside, perched day after day on the metal frames that straddle the ceiling of the Speed Street complex. Elaborate plans were made to guide the poor creature back to freedom,...Read more

“Be careful where you tread …”

Jul 21, 2014 | Discuss

"Be careful where you tread ..."

You can get a sign to mark your own personal wildlife corridor these days,  but if you think about it, the whole of Alice Springs is one … with critters of all kinds making their way wherever and however  they can, despite the encroachment of bricks and mortar, bitumen and colourbond fences. For some, however, it must be harder than for others, though. I’d like to know how Central Australia’s extraordinary caterpillars — famous for their role in Arrernte dreamings ̵...Read more

The whistler is back

May 27, 2014 | Discuss

The whistler is back

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on Alice Online, as I succumb to  busyness as unusual in my life. Presumably Uncle Joe would be proud of me as I head into my seventh decade with more work on my plate than I can actually do. It’s all good for the economy, I surmise, but as the poet said: What is this world so full of care If we have no time to stop and stare? So in this ever-so mellow month of May, I celebrate the wildlife in our corridors that gives us pause to stop, look and listen a...Read more

A seasonal procession?

Feb 24, 2014 | Discuss

A seasonal procession?

I’m always suspicious of statements about the weather or the climate that are based on memory. When people say: “I can’t remember a winter as cold as this,” or “I don’t remember October ever being this hot,” the key word in the sentence is “remember.” Our memories of seasons gone by are, for the most part, notoriously unreliable. Not that the objective reality of temperature records guarantees much of a reality check. The fact is that “...Read more

The goanna that was too greedy for its own good

Feb 17, 2014 | Discuss

By Chris Watson (Above: a Sand Monitor in healthier times – Chris Watson) Land for Wildlife coordinator Matt, made a gruesome discovery on one of his lunchtime constitutionals recently. There, by the back fence, was a dead Gould’s Sand Monitor Varanus gouldii, with a reptilian tail protruding from its lifeless jaws. Initially we thought it might have been a snake that had proved too long for the monitor to eat, or eject, and so it might have choked or starved to death. On closer ins...Read more

Treasure-hunting at the claypans

Jan 13, 2014 | Discuss

Treasure-hunting at the claypans

Nothing quite tells the story of water in the arid zone in the same way as claypans. Large shallow lakes can settle in amongst the coolibahs for months off a good rain in the cooler times, but come and go like mirages in the summer. In their wake they leave many surprising stories. My friend Noel Ferry and I took Noodles out for a swim to the Ilparpa clay pans a week or two after some recent storms . It took us a while to find a pool but it was worth the look … and there was a lot to look ...Read more

Changing of the guard

Dec 05, 2013 | 2 Comments

Changing of the guard

The movement of birds is a mysterious thing – to me at least. I’m not talking about mass migrations in search of warmer weather, but suburban stuff, even backyard to backyard. For as long as I have been paying attention, our yard has been dominated by yellow-plumed white-plumed honeyeaters: cheeky, chirpy chaps and chapettes who like to whiz past the human ear at great speed, often build their nests at human eye-level and are very good at keeping much larger birds out of their territory. As...Read more

The Frequent Flyers Club

Oct 29, 2013 | Discuss

The Frequent Flyers Club

Story and pictures by Chris Watson Do you recognise any of the birds above? If you do, in the words of Phillip Adams, give yourself two gold stars and a koala stamp. Clockwise from the top image; a Common Sandpiper in between two Red-necked Stints; a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper; a mixed flock of migratory waders on the mudflats at Alice Springs Sewage Ponds; and a handsome-looking Wood Sandpiper (all images Chris Watson). Even those of us who do recognise them, might not recognise them as occurring i...Read more

The birds and the bee and the butterflies

Oct 04, 2013 | 11 Comments

The birds and the bee and the butterflies

I know it’s hot – hotter than usual – and a lot of people scoff at the idea of labelling a Centralian October or even September with such an imported concept, but personally I am noticing a very Spring-like explosion of life and colour around the place this year. Perhaps there was just enough rain in those midwinter showers to give the F and F a kick along. The grass is still green, and the roos (which are in great numbers) are still looking healthy, particularly out bush, where the sh...Read more