Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Down at the CREEC

Before you comment on my spelling ability - I’ll just point out that the place we were at today is called the Canning River Eco Education Centre - or CREEC for short. This wonderful environment education building is located right next to Kent St Weir along the beautiful, paperbark-lined banks of the Canning River.

Today Gill and I visited CREEC to conduct a short nest-box workshop with members of the Cockatoo Kids Club. We had about 20 kids attend and watch us give a talk about hollow homes and recycling rubbish to build nest boxes. I was MOST impressed with these children’s ability to identify local native birds. Western Rosella, Australian Ringneck, Barn Owl, Brushtail Possum - they rattled off species names perfectly! Just shows what impact being a member of a cockatoo club has!

After the talk we showed the audience some pre-made nest boxes we’d brought along, which were designed for smaller birds including parrots and mammals like possums. Then it was time to venture outside and have a walk around the Canning River, point out existing wildlife habitat and select 2 trees in which to hang our boxes.

We finished with a climbing demonstration as I put a rope up the tree and hoisted up the first box, which I fixed in place with a length of TV antenna cable I’d picked up from a verge collection. Nothing like reusing old junk!

Thanks to Hayley from CREEC for contacting us to come and be part of the Cockatoo Kids Club education program, and for the opportunity to hang some more of our boxes in a great educational setting!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Wildlife Surveillance

If you look carefully at the bottom left of the above photo, you can see a small brown box mounted to a branch in this beautiful Marri tree. This is a motion-sensing camera which belongs to the Mundaring Shire, and I installed it today at this Black Cockatoo nest box at Mundaring Primary School (click here to read more about the nest-box installation).

Sensor cameras are a great way to monitor wildlife, and just the sort of thing that can help determine which type of animals might come along and investigate a nest box. Although the box is designed for cockatoos (especially the Red-tailed variety), tree hollows can be hard to come by and many other creatures may show interest in boxes. We want to see who they are!

Although it now has a hollow home, this enormous Marri was clearly an important habitat tree before. While installing the camera I noticed a Common Bronzewing nest built on a thick limb a few metres above my head. Here you can see the male pigeon on the nest with his almost-ready-to-fly chicks. Fantastic!

There is always something to see when you spend time up a tree! Let’s hope we get some interesting photos from our motion camera. Keep watching this blog for updates!

Monday, 22 October 2012

They Work!!

These three gorgeous Australian Ringneck parrot chicks were photographed today at Ardross Primary! They are about 3 weeks old, and should be ready to fledge in about a week, by which time the last of the feathers on their heads will have emerged. This breeding record is the first success story for our Schools Nest Box program, and is really encouraging for future success!

When I arrived at the school today many children were excited to run up and tell me about parrots being inside the box. You might remember from this post that the school first told me about the nest box’s occupancy a few weeks ago, and the kids had enjoyed writing down their observations about the ringnecks. The Deputy Principal Catherine Bishop showed me the wonderful ‘Bird Notes’ book at the school today, and I was SO impressed! This book contains the children’s observations of birds at their school seen looking at the nest boxes, and other interesting sightings. In many cases the children write entries, but where they are a bit young the teachers write in what the kids say. Check out this:


 It gives us so much pleasure to hear that the nest boxes have captured the attention of children at the school, and they have continued to take ownership of their boxes by keeping detailed records. No doubt, the successful pair of ringnecks have been keeping an eye on the school kids too, from their prominent perch above the courtyard (below). Hopefully they will remember their happy breeding site and return next year to raise more chicks!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Couch

Today I was lucky enough to be interviewed on the Wild Things segment on one of Perth's popular TV shows, The Couch. I was invited to talk about Wedge-tailed Eagles and my research/filmmaking work carried out in the last few years. I'm really grateful to Marnie Giroud, the host of the segment, for organising this great opportunity, and to the producer/crew for making it happen!

Here's a clip of the interview:

Friday, 19 October 2012

Mundaring Primary School: some local nest boxes

Isn’t the above picture amazing!!? It was painted by Karra, a Year 1 student from Mundaring Primary, and it shows her depiction of our nest box program undertaken at her school today. The detail young people pick up never ceases to amaze me - there’s a tree with a hollow in the branch, a bird’s egg inside, a Black Cockatoo flying to the tree, and a tall, dreadlocked man with bandanna, khaki t-shirt and black shorts standing nearby. Who does that remind you of!?

Gill and I were both very touched to receive such a drawing from a cute student who only attended the powerpoint presentation during our first hour at the school, and wasn’t directly involved in the box-building. Obviously she still gained a lot! It’s moments like this that make us realise what we do this work for :’-)

To read more about our day making nest boxes with this local primar school, visit the relevant news post on the Re-Cyc-Ology web page.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Great Western Woodlands

This magnificent ecosystem is the largest intact, mediterranean woodland left in the WORLD! Through Millennium Kids, I’ve been involved in various youth education programs in the Woodland during the last year which aim to engage kids with this area and take ownership to promote its conservation.

One such activity was a Youth Citizen Science Camp which I’ve just returned from, where we spent 10 days in the Woodland teaching kids about the environment and human impacts. We had the pleasure of working with five Year 10 students from John Baptist College in Kalgoorlie, all of whom we got to know quite well by the end of the trip. We were so pleased watching the kids learn to tune into their environment and become valuable interpreters of the land and human impacts.

You can view a bunch of photos from the trip here. For more information about Millennium Kids, visit their website www.millenniumkids.com.au.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Maggie’s Place - just across the road

This incredible nest and gorgeous contents belong to the likeable Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen). This pretty sight is in the leafy canopy of a tall Jarrah tree just across the road from my place. The 'magpie clan' has been busy visiting the tree with mouthfuls of grubs gathered from our garden, and yesterday I noticed there were not one but TWO nests!

This afternoon I climbed the tree to get a closer look and was thrilled to capture this series of shots. Magpies have a reputation for swooping but I've climbed many nests in the past and had no trouble. Even so, I wore a hat and was prepared for the arsenal! Interestingly though, several members of the family group came and squawked me and did the occasional fly-by, but were on the whole quite calm, sitting quietly on nearby perches to keep a close eye on me. This female (probably the chicks’ mother) was present the whole time I photographed the nest, giving me her constant, undivided attention!

Another ‘nest guardian’ was this immature magpie, who was probably in a nest himself last year. Having these birds sitting very close to me provided a great opportunity for some portrait photos of them too.

You can see in the photo at the top of the page that the birds have used several pieces of wire to build their nest with. Even an old plastic zip-tie is visible (bottom left)! The funny thing is that my neighbour recognised the green garden twine from her backyard!

Here’s a nice close up of the magpie babies to finish with. I always think how the fluffy down feathers (you can see these are fawn-coloured on the chicks below) give baby birds such a cute appearance :)
Industrial, clever, beautiful, and blessed with the most amazing carolling warbles to greet the dawn, magpies are truly a great Australian local. You just never know what amazing wildlife might be hiding close to home.

 Click this link for more photos of Australian bird nests.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Castlemaine News

Today’s issue of the local newspaper in Castlemaine had this fabulous story about our nest box workshop conducted in September. Thanks to Lisa Dennis for such a detailed and well-written story! (Click on the image below to enlarge).