Orange

The Orange Campus contains a significant landholding to the north/north-east of core campus facilities. The biodiversity report for the Orange Campus notes that there are substantial areas of remnant native vegetation (Yellow Box – Apple Box and Ribbon Gum – Apple Box). In addition, two creeks on the campus have the potential to form a significant wildlife/biodiversity corridor – particularly at the confluence of these two creeks, which form 'swampy' area.

The university is working in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries, Orange City Council and the Summerhill Creekcare group to improve aquatic habitat in Risky Paddock (biodiversity zone E) on the university farm.

The below gallery show cases native fauna species identified on this campus through biodiversity monitoring activities.

Charles Sturt University extends our sincere gratitude to the following talented and very generous photographers for granting permission to publish their amazing images.

Thank you to: Simon B Cotterell, Ian Montgomery birdway.com.au, Jennifer Horsnell, Geoff Burrows, Dr Joanne Connolly, Tim Bergen, Alexandra Knight, David Hunter, Mark Stephenson, Cilla Kinross, Ian Kerr, Roger France and Ken Monson.

Wildflower images are sourced from canberra.naturemapr.org

FalconCam Project

The FalconCam Project is a research-based and educational initiative with the aim of studying the breeding behaviour and diet of a family of resident, non-migratory peregrine falcons in Australia. The nest, or eyrie, is in a wooden box installed at the top of a tall water tower (still in use) in the grounds of Charles Sturt University.

The project has been approved by the University’s Animal Ethics’ Committee. To date (2020) Dr Cilla Kinross has collected nearly six years’ worth of breeding behaviour data and seven years’ of prey analysis.

Watch the peregrine falcons live streaming on the new NestCam 2 and read the web chat commentating on the parents Diamond (Mum) and Xavier (Dad) caring for eggs and raising their chicks. (Chicks hatch in late September.)

Flagship species: Scarlet Robin

Conservation status is vulnerable in NSW.

The Scarlet Robin Petroica boodang, is a small, plump bird, to 130mm. Males have a striking scarlet breast, black head, neck and upperparts with a conspicuous small white patch above the bill. The lower underparts are white. The wings are barred white and the outer tail is also white.

Females are brown above with an orange-red breast, white forehead and brown wings and white underparts. Young birds resemble females but are streaked white above, tinged buff on the wings and are mottled dark-brown on the breast and sides of the body.

Scarlet Robins can be quite tame around humans. They are a quiet and unobtrusive species which is often easily approached.  Their populations have declined in South Australia and Western Australia as a result of land-clearing practices. They are particularly affected by the removal of understorey.

Habitat requirements – home and food

The Scarlet Robin:

  • feeds mainly on insects and forages on or near the ground. It sit on a perch and fly down to catch prey. Sometimes they forage in mixed flocks with other small insect-eating birds, such as Flame and Hooded Robins, Weebills, Grey Fantails and thornbills;
  • lives in dry eucalypt forests and woodlands where the understorey is usually open and grassy with few scattered shrubs.  They live in both mature and regrowth vegetation;
  • occasionally occurs in mallee or wet forest communities, or in wetlands and tea-tree swamps;
  • habitat usually contains abundant logs and fallen timber, important components of its habitat;
  • breeds on ridges, hills and foothills of the western slopes, the Great Dividing Range and eastern coastal regions; and is occasionally found up to 1000 metres in altitude;
  • is primarily a resident in forests and woodlands, but some adults and young birds disperse to more open habitats after breeding;
  • in autumn and winter many individuals live in open grassy woodlands and grasslands or grazed paddocks with scattered trees;
  • forage from low perches, fence-posts or on the ground, from where they pounce on small insects and other invertebrates which are taken from the ground, or off tree trunks and logs; they sometimes forage in the shrub or canopy layer;
  • pairs defend a breeding territory and mainly breed between July and January raising two or three broods each season;
  • nests are an open cup made of plant fibres and cobwebs built in the fork of tree usually more than two metres above the ground; nests are often found in a dead branch in a live tree, or in a dead tree or shrub;
  • eggs are pale greenish, bluish or brownish-white, spotted with brown with clutch size ranging from one to four;
  • birds usually occur singly or in pairs, occasionally in small family parties and pairs stay together year-round; and
  • in autumn and winter join mixed flocks of other small insectivorous birds which forage through dry forests and woodlands.

Key threats

  • Their habit of foraging on the ground for food makes them vulnerable to cats, and young birds that roost close to the ground may be taken by rats.
  • Historical habitat clearing and degradation.
  • Habitat modification due to overgrazing.
  • Reduction of size of remnant patches.
  • Reduction in the structural complexity of habitat, including reductions in canopy cover, shrub cover, ground cover, logs, fallen branches and leaf litter.
  • Reduction of the native ground cover in favour of exotic grasses.
  • Loss of nest sites, food sources and foraging sites, such as standing dead timber, logs and coarse woody debris from depletion by grazing, firewood collection and ‘tidying up’ of rough pasture.
  • Predation by over-abundant populations of Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) which are supported by planted exotic berry-producing shrubs; this pressure, is addition to that from other native and exotic predators, may be a potentially severe threat to the breeding success of Scarlet Robin populations.
  • Isolation of patches of habitat, particularly where these patches are smaller than ten hectares, and in landscapes where clearing has been heavy or where remnants are surrounded by cropping or stock grazing.
  • Habitat for the Scarlet Robin may become unsuitable if dense regeneration occurs after bushfires or other disturbances.
  • Competitive exclusion by over-abundant Noisy Miners (Manorina melanocephala) within habitat.

What Charles Sturt University is doing

The Orange Campus contains a significant landholding to the north/north-east of core campus facilities. There are substantial areas of remnant native vegetation of Yellow Box – Apple Box and Ribbon Gum – Apple Box. The two creeks on the campus have the potential to form a significant wildlife/biodiversity corridor, particularly at the confluence of these two creeks, which form 'swampy' area.

A total of 16.2 hectares at Charles Sturt University Orange have been identified and mapped as areas of significant conservation value.  These areas were formally ratified in April 2017 as biodiversity zones.  There are six biodiversity areas located on the Farm.  These biodiversity zones are a good start, however more work needs to be done to connect the habitat requirements of this species as they need a lot of undergrowth.

Charles Sturt University aims to undertake activities that:

  • retain existing forest, woodland and remnant grassland vegetation, including paddock trees;
  • retain dead timber on the ground in open forest and woodland areas;
  • enhance potential habitat through regeneration by reducing the intensity and duration of grazing;
  • fence remnants to protect from long-term, intense grazing;
  • increase the size of existing remnants, by planting trees and establishing buffer zones of un-modified, uncultivated pasture around woodland remnants;
  • keep domestic cats indoors at night and desex them;
  • avoid the use of exotic berry-producing shrubs in landscape and garden plantings in areas adjacent to Scarlet Robin habitats; and
  • encourages partnerships with staff, students and external community groups like the Summerhill Creek Care group, Orange Local Council and Central Tablelands Local Land Services.

How you can help:

Participate in activities enhancing the biodiversity zones including:

  • Participate in tree planting days on campus and the farmland;
  • participate in flora and fauna monitoring activities;
  • keep pet cats inside at all times, especially at night;
  • pick up litter around campus;
  • be aware of the important habitat role of hollow trees;
  • observe native animals on campus and report to the Campus Environment Committee anything that stands out; and
  • observe speed limits and watch out for native animals when driving around campus, especially early in the morning and at dusk.