What Chat Is That?

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akasha
akasha's picture
What Chat Is That?

Hi All. This one is from Sturt National Park. At first I thought Gibberbird, but then I thought maybe female Orange Chat. Apologies for the quality of the photos. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Woko
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I bet you're having some great adventures, akasha.

Out of curiosity, I consulted a field guide & I reckon you might be right about a female Orange Chat. In the second photo I notice some light barring on its upper flank which made me think you're identification is accurate.

Steven.McBride
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I'll 2nd female Orange Chat.

akasha
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Thanks guys. I wanted it to be Gibberbird, but I agree it's an Orange Chat.

Yes Woko, visiting Sturt National Park was a great adventure! But it was very dry out there, so there weren't many birds. The solitude was awesome though, we had the campgrounds all to ourselves :) 

Woko
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Akasha, I notice some media reports about huge amounts of rubbish tourists in the outback are dumping. Any sign of this profligate environmental destruction in your travels? 

akasha
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Not that I saw, but then again there just weren't many people out there.

Probably the biggest disappointment to me was the way the feral animals are not being managed. At Mutawintji National Park near Broken Hill, there were hundreds of feral goats destroying the habitat. They would be quite easy to round up, so I don't understand why National Parks isn't doing something about it. Goats are worth a lot of money now, it would be a good revenue source for them.

At South Meyers tank in Sturt National Park, we saw the same feral cat on the two occassions we visited. It was hunting the birds that came into drink (not that there were that many of them, and maybe the cat is the reason). I chased it away from a Black-fronted Dotterel once. The first day we were there, three Blue-winged Parrots came in to drink. I hate to think of that horrible cat killing them. The cat was fairly quiet, it would have been easy to shoot or trap, I don't know why nothing is being done about it. (If we saw it both times we were there, I can't imagine others haven't seen it.)

Woko
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Could be our political authorities place a very low priority on our unique wildlife, akasha.

Alex Rogers
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Feral animals are an incredibly difficult problem to properly control let alone eradicate. The Mutawinji Lands plan of management (an interesting read, available here online) shows that the local authorities have had an intensive goat eradication programme running since the 1980s, obviously with limited success. The document outlines what they have been doing and continue to do to control feral animals - including trapping and shooting. Goats are tough to eradicate - cats are almost impossible, unless we taxpayers are prepared to stump up tens or hundreds of millions on the effort. (Personally I'd support that - but not sure how widespread that sentiment is)

Akasha, your chat is a very pretty bird, thanks for posting :-) 

Woko
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Alex, perhaps it depends on the price we put on uniqueness. Diamonds: very high. Australia's wildlife: not much. But at least there are two votes for spending hundreds of millions on protecting our wildlife. 

By the way we live in a country which is happy to spend billions on wars at the drop of a diplomatic hat. 

akasha
akasha's picture

Thanks Alex :)

I guess I get that the cat problem is all but impossible to solve, but the goats shouldn't be so hard. The thing about them is that it would be PROFITABLE to round them up and sell them. They could contract it out even. There are plenty of guys with good dogs and portable yards that could take hundreds of goats out of the gorge area in a week, if they were given permission to just get in there and do it. Nothing they do could be more detrimental than what the goats are already doing.

Woko
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I find it curious that we can easily make a native species extinct in Australia yet we say it's nigh on impossible to make cats or goats extinct. 

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

akasha wrote:

Thanks Alex :)

I guess I get that the cat problem is all but impossible to solve, but the goats shouldn't be so hard. The thing about them is that it would be PROFITABLE to round them up and sell them. They could contract it out even. There are plenty of guys with good dogs and portable yards that could take hundreds of goats out of the gorge area in a week, if they were given permission to just get in there and do it. Nothing they do could be more detrimental than what the goats are already doing.

Yes, it seems like it should be easy, doesn't it? But I believe they have been trying for many years, and have long been using the tanks there as traps and rounding up hundreds of goats. But there are something like 3 million feral goats in NSW, and trapping a few hundred simply leads to a vacuum which others will quickly fill. 

I read a really good summary of the problem from Dept of Environment (I'm interested as I'd like to buy and restore degraded farmland one day, and controlling ferals is a big focus) here: https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/2109c235-4e01-49f6... Its a good read, but a relevant extract follows: 

"Any control of goats to protect values in national parks or nature reserves requires constantly high levels of culling, trapping and harvesting to keep pace with the high levels of immigration.  For example, on one park dung counts (see  CITATION Mit071 \l 3081 (Mitchell & Balogh, 2007)) indicated there were approximately 3000 goats.  A contractor harvested approximately 2500 feral goats to significantly reduce the population.  However, a month later the same contractor was able to harvest a similar number indicating a very high level of immigration."

The only real solution to date for goats and cats is landscape-scale fencing - i.e. cat and goat-proof fencing enclosing whole parks, and then systematically culling all the ferals inside, re-stocking your small marsupials, and then putting serious effort into maintaining the integrity of the fences while native populations recover. Very hard, very expensive, and even one breach of the fence (and goats actively challenge fences) can lead to you having to start all over again. 

As far as I know, nobody has even suggested let alone costed possible solutions for Australia-wide feral control. 

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

Woko wrote:

I find it curious that we can easily make a native species extinct in Australia yet we say it's nigh on impossible to make cats or goats extinct. 

Do you think it might have something to do with the adaptability and hardiness of the species? So many of our indigenous mammals and birds are tightly tied to a particular niche, and thus very prone to disruption - while invasive species like goats and cats are succesful by virtue of being incredibly adaptable and able to live in just about any environment and conditions. Also makes them $%!^ hard to kill!

Woko
Woko's picture

No doubt adaptation is a factor. But the key factor is will & the priority we're prepared to give our native animals & their habitats, in my view. As a nation we're quite happy to spend billions on diggng up coal which wrecks our climate but not happy to spend billions on protecting our native flora & fauna. 

Unfortunately, (again in my view), our addiction to money, development & our material life style means that the long term cost of things like environmental destruction & climate change are never factored into the national accounts. In the long term a healthy biodiversity is critical for a healthy economy. As yet, our political leaders are unable to make this connection &, therefore, are only tokenistic in the money they spend on things like feral animal eradication. 

Alex, I wish you really well in your goal of restoring degraded farm land. This is precisely what Ms Woko & I have done. The big problem we're facing now is that we're finding it increasingly hard to leave here now that we're getting older & don't have quite the same energy levels we once had! So having an exit plan for the long term will be important. 

 and @UrbanBirdsOz  @birdsinbackyards
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