Reprieve from the drought: Copley Retention Dam

After 3 years of drought, the thriving bird haven of the Copley Retention Dam had almost completely evaporated. Flooding summer rains in the Northern Flinders Ranges replenished the dam overnight.

Throughout the flood / drought cycle, Copley Retention Dam is supporting over 70 recorded bird species, many of which are profiled on the Flinders Ranges Field Naturalists site including birds classified as Rare by the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Act, such as

  • Musk Duck
  • Blue-billed Duck
  • Australasian Darter
  • Elegant Parrot
  • Great Crested Grebe.
Retention Dam in drought
Retention Dam in flood

Nankeen Night Heron

A rare glimpse of a Nankeen Night Heron in the Northern Flinders Ranges. Not usually seen in arid inland areas, these elusive nomads follow the rains. This adult flew into Copley from the south in the early evening for a brief transit stop. A distinct call signaled the arrival of a further three Nankeen Night Herons to the location around sunset. They were well hidden in the high foliage of a eucalyptus tree and are not generally sighted during the daylight hours. Arriving just days after a flood summer throughout the Flinders Ranges, Nankeen Night Herons feed on crustaceans, fish, amphibians, and insects in shallow waters such as the nearby Retention Dam.

Echidna spotting – get involved via Echidna CSI app

According to a wave of anecdotal evidence from Beltana, Leigh Creek, Warraweena, Copley and across the district, Echidnas are being sighted in surprising numbers. The number of echidna sightings in the Northern Flinders Ranges is rapidly rising, but not much is known about the populations of these elusive little monotremes in our area. The following information and links come from the Atlas of Living Australia who are hosting the citizen science project Echidna CSI. This exciting project invites you to contribute reports of your echidna sightings – past, present and future!

“Although an iconic native Australian animal, we do not know much about echidnas’ wild populations, as they are extremely hard to find (when you’re actually looking for them). However, we know that there are many of you that have seen wild echidnas (sometimes even in your own backyard!) and taken photos or videos of them. With your help and photo taking abilities we can start filling in the gaps about wild echidnas in Australia.

What we also need help with is collecting echidna scats (which is a nicer way of saying poo). Why? Because we can get a lot of information about echidnas through the molecules in their scats. We can get out DNA and hormones to tell us who that echidna is, if it’s healthy, stressed or reproductively active. And so we can learn more about these wild populations without having to track or capture any of these animals.”

Get Involved! There are a couple of options for submitting data

Use EchidnaCSI app to record and submit sighting on the spot:

Download the app and have it ready to take a photo at your next sighting.

Or make a manual online submission of your echidna sighting :

Sign up to the Atlas of Living Australia website and lodge your sighting. Even if you didn’t get a chance to take a photo, you can still submit a date and map marker of your Echidna sighting.

The short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) seen in Jubilee Creek near Copley

Warraweena Pythons, a key indicator for successful biodiversity management?

Stony Steiner writes in from Warraweena Conservation Park about the rise of numbers of Pythons, Echidnas and Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies.

There are and always were pythons across the Flinders Ranges. They are not easy to spot as they spend a lot of their time almost motionless curled up or move slowly and quietly about, mostly after dark. Their beautiful pattern is some of nature’s best camouflage.

Two species of python can be found on Warraweena; the Carpet or Diamond Python (Morelia spilota) and Stimson’s Python (Antaresia stimsoni). Stimson’s Python is also known as the “large blotched python” or the “inland children’s python” is the smaller of the two species which can grow up the 1m long whereas the Carpet Python can grow longer than 2m.

 Carpet Python / Diamond Python, Warraweena Carpet Python / Diamond Python, WarraweenaStimson’s Python / Inland Children’s Python, Warraweena

I live on Warraweena now for almost twenty years and I can confidently say that reports and sightings of pythons have increased over the years. The first python I ever saw in the wild was living at the shearer’s quarters back in 2002, it has been seen there on and off for about 2 years, mostly curled up under the veranda roof behind the kitchen chimney. Some ten years ago reposts of sightings either of a Children’s Python at Old Warraweena and near Mt Hack or Carpet Pythons west of Sliding Rock or Sandy Camp, Dunbar or Mt Stuart came in from guests, some of them I have spotted myself; actually almost ran over the (probably) same large Carpet Python twice at the same location in the dark and more than 2 years apart!  Now I had 3 sightings alone between late November and early December; a Stimson’s Python near Donlon’s camp, one Diamond Python near the lookout and one at Nantibury. Continue reading “Warraweena Pythons, a key indicator for successful biodiversity management?”