Posted on 05/10/2020 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Learn what Phillip Island's favourite native wildlife species are up to this Spring...
Spring marks the start of the breeding season for Little Penguins and our research team has noted that they have already started breeding at the Penguin Parade and that this is earlier than in other sites across the Summerland Peninsula population.
About 80% of nests have eggs at the Penguin Parade - this is one of the earliest breeding starts on record in this area! This is probably due to La Nina conditions developing this year, which usually bring above-average rains on land and warmer conditions which provide a better and more reliable food supply for the penguins out at sea. Don’t forget, you can tune in and see all the action each night on Live Penguin TV!
The Arrival of Short-Tailed Shearwaters
The Short-tailed Shearwater breeding season on Phillip Island is about to begin, with their imminent arrival to our shores from waters around Alaska. About 1.4 million birds are expected to arrive on their breeding grounds after spending the last five months around the Bering Sea near Alaska. Their epic, annual trans-equatorial migration is truly one of the natural wonders of the world. This summer, Nature Parks researchers will monitor the return of birds to nest boxes and hope to recover tiny tracking devices fitted to some individuals. Our research aims to understand their breeding and foraging success, and how that is affected by climatic and environmental changes around the world. So, keep an eye on the sky at sunset along the coast to see these incredible birds returning to home after a day’s fishing. Please also care for their homes by keeping to tracks in the dunes so you don’t accidentally trample their sand dune burrows.
Refuge for Hooded Plovers
Our rangers have been busy installing signage and roping off areas on beaches to indicate where Hooded Plovers are nesting. These wildlife refuges are an important way of sharing our beaches and helping Hooded Plover parents, nests and chicks to survive. Each refuge consists of a simple rope fence and advisory signs and gives adult birds the space to feel safe and comfortable while they incubate their eggs and care for their chicks. They also provide a place to run and hide from predators and to shelter from the weather.
Hooded Plover nests are often a simple scrape in the sand, and both tiny eggs and chicks are well camouflaged and can be accidentally crushed or chased by off-leash dogs. Please be kind to each other and our Hooded Plovers by staying clear of refuge areas, keeping dogs on a leash and walking on the wet sand as much as possible as you pass by. A Hooded Plover family will thank your family!
Monitoring Eastern Barred Bandicoots
Our regular trapping sessions of the critically endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoots are especially important in spring because they give us lots of important data about this species to help us in deciding how we can best manage them into the future - not only on Phillip Island but assisting their reintroduction across Victoria.
Our teams will be trapping bandicoots across their populations on Churchill Island and Summerland Peninsula during September and October. At this time of year, we expect to see plenty of pouch young and possibly some independent bandicoot babies hopping around!
As we move into spring, Koalas at the Koala Conservation Reserve become more active as the trees begin to produce new growth and the breeding season begins. In October, rangers will be in the field with the aim of catching the koalas in the reserve for a health check and to see if they have any joeys (baby koalas) in their pouch.
The bushfire-affected koalas currently in our care will be housed between the rehab pens and the new semi-wild enclosure sponsored by WWF-Australia which allows the koalas to develop their body condition in close-to-wild conditions, before their eventual release back to the wild.
Our team has also planted approximately 1,000 eucalyptus species in the plantations and woodlands and built a new perimeter fence along the Harbison Road boundary. Construction of a second WWF-sponsored pen within the existing Koala Conservation Reserve woodland will also begin.
Out At Seal Rocks
The female Australian Fur Seals are getting bigger as their pregnancies develop. They are also having to work hard to keep feeding their pup from last summer while growing their new one. These pups from last breeding season are growing fast and will start to supplement their milk diet with food (such as fish and squid) that they catch themselves. This gets them ready for weaning off their mother’s milk before the new pups are born.