News from the Nesting Box Spring Time 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

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Sugar Glider Squad

In early August our newly formed Sugar Glider Squad comprising Hamish Cumming, Ethan Stidwill, Ruby Cumming and Luke Stidwill swung into action. They decided on their nesting box locations, put up the boxes, provided some soft bedding for the inhabitants, and noted the GPS locations for the Northern Beaches Council database.


L to R: Ethan Hamish and Ruby

Sugar Glider Squad continued

Typically the ants moved in first, however Hamish and Ruby report that the boxes are now clear and open for business. While Feathertail Gliders, Antechinus and Pygmy Possums are all likely inhabitants - the monitoring team have set their sights on being the first to report and photograph the presence of Sugar Gliders in this area.

The ultimate goal is to report a sighting to the Atlas of Living Australia ( ) joining other ‘Citizen Scientists’ in providing an ongoing record of biodiversity throughout Australia.


L to R: Luke Hamish Ruby and Ethan

The Manly Daily, Pittwater Online News and the WPCA website all reported on this scientific initiative undertaken by these 4 youngsters.

Manly Daily August 30 2016

Pittwater Online news


Nesting Box Advances

First up a big welcome to Madeleine and Mark Nicholls who recently purchased two nesting boxes for their property on Rocky Point. We now have 42 nesting boxes placed along the Western Shores of Pittwater under the watchful eyes of residents and our three infrared cameras. As a consequence of this support our local project finds itself under other watchful eyes. Our Northern Beaches Bushcare Supervisor, Helena Dewis tells us that we are being ‘followed’ by other bushcare groups on the Northern Beaches who are interested in setting up nesting boxes themselves while the Community Environment Network in Ourimbah has been in touch as they are currently undertaking a similar residents camera program on the Central Coast.

Nesting Box Action

Once again this year we have had two nesting boxes used continuously from May to October. Both nesting boxes (Sarah Gardner’s and Hazel Sullivan’s) are located on the north-facing side of Lovett Bay and both recorded a predominance of Feathertail Glider sightings with the occasional Pygmy Possum appearance.

Hazel Sullivan’s nesting box and one of its inhabitants

Another 3 boxes have had nests made by some very camera-shy inhabitants.

Susie Thiessen                      Lyn Hughes                      Lesley Stevens

Then we have the Broughton and Hoffmann Mace properties that have encampments of Feathertail Gliders marching across their roofs almost every night while ignoring the comfort of the comfortable nesting boxes on a nearby Christmas Bush and Banksia.

Mel Broughton’s Rooftop prowlers

Looking at the boxes in use - the most basic common characteristic is that of a good leaf canopy with branches connecting the trees overhead while the tree trunks themselves are relatively small (15+cm). Just a thought in case you are thinking of relocating……

After Dark

Our After Dark program is now up and running under the stewardship of Jude James. Feedback from early recipients of the wildlife camera has highlighted the need for clear camera instructions and some helpful hints about setting up and recording the results. However most of our program participants have been offered the camera rather than booking it under their own steam so please let your neighbours know the camera is available to everyone in the community, at any stage in the year, with families with kids prioritised in the school holidays.

And these are the kind of photos that make it fun...

Wait for me!

I know I can still fit in here…

Our thoughts are with the Mum…

Wildlife Cameras

After taking over the After Dark program Jude James volunteered to look after and schedule all three cameras so that we could retain maximum flexibility for any active nesting boxes while servicing the needs of the After Dark program.

One of the first issues she raised was the need for an archive. While also volunteering to add this to her workload, it would help considerably if every box under camera surveillance displayed a number. Our boxes are already numbered thanks to our July Nesting Box GPS Expedition so Jude plans to provide a temporary number tag for each box on delivery of the camera. Please try to assist our Archivist by maintaining the tag.

Failure to do so may trigger a visit from the feared Possum Police. They are always watching….


Camera Care

Another issue that raised its head was that of camera corrosion. In March we sent the first camera back to the supplier to clean and replace a battery terminal and the second camera was dispatched in August with the same problem. The supplier, Faunatech, have kept the service charge to a minimum but they have also suggested we use desiccants in the cameras to stop the build up of moisture.

So that’s what those funny pink pellets in the camera corners are - desiccants. They require more care when closing the camera, however, it’s better than another trip to Faunatech.

Helping Rocky Find Some Friends

We had a week of excitement when Taronga Zoo asked us to help them re-home an injured Feathertail Glider who had been in recovery under the care of Zoo staff. The Glider was to be put in a closed nesting box next door to one of our active boxes in the expectation that those gliders would hear the new boy and come over and talk to let him know he had some friends. And after a couple of nights of chat, the nesting box would be opened and Rocky would be free to explore and hopefully join the gang next door. We had even sourced the theme music to celebrate.

Sadly it was not to be. Little Rocky never made it out of the hospital leaving Zoo staff very distressed. Senior Keeper Wendy Gleen reported that the wee chap had a lung problem - maybe a complication from being orphaned.We sent condolences on behalf of our community.

Feathertail Vocalisation Project

PhD candidate Kobe Martin has now recorded Feathertail Glider vocalisations from nesting boxes on Sarah Gardner and Hazel Sullivan’s properties. We’ll let you know whether or not our FTG’s speak the same language as those in the Taronga Zoo breeding program as soon as Kobe crunches the sound wave data.

Kobe’s Microphone

Kobe is still looking to record more gliders so please let us know if you have a new nest so that we can get the camera monitoring your box.

Finally a big thanks to all our wonderful participants and families who continue to offer a home to our wildlife. Your blood’s worth bottling.

And that’s it from the Nesting Box Bunker for now. Let’s see what Summer brings…


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