Carers stories 2017
On this page
we will keep you informed about animals that you have brought in to
care with WIRES Northern Rivers branch. If you would like to know about
a particular animal, please email us, and we will do what we can to
keep you up to date.
Swimming pools are fantastic on a hot day, the cool water enticing all creatures great and small.
Native animals see a swimming pool as a water source, not realising if they fall in there is no way out. Sadly many native animals do fall in when leaning down for a much needed drink, they swim round the edges looking for a way out, but after some time they run out of energy and drown.
This can easily be avoided by simply attaching a rope to something outside the pool; rope dangling into the pool and the animal is able to hang on till they are discovered, or in many cases climb out via the rope.
This juvenile Bandicoot was found in a swimming pool at Alstonville, rushed to Alstonville vet surgery where it was checked out and found to be in good health. It was exhausted and stressed, needing some time to recover and observed for possible water inhalation complications.
After 6 days in WIRES care it had fully recovered and was taken back to where it was found in order to join the rest of its family.
The owner of the swimming pool has now ensured native animals seeking a drink can safely get back out.
Please check your pool, does it have an avenue of escape for our native animals?
Image by Jeanette Dundas
The Pheasant coucal lives in areas of thick undergrowth spending most of its time on the ground eating a variety of insects, small frogs, lizards and snakes.
These birds build a large nest on the ground made up of leaves and twigs, a woven canopy of grass is pulled over the nest, leaving two openings, head protruding from one and tail from the other. As the nestlings grow new leafy twigs are added.
These two Pheasant coucal chicks were rescued at Clunes when they wandered into a garden. Brett the property owner, acted quickly when he saw the chicks being stalked by a cat.
Brett was aware of the Pheasant coucals as he had heard them regularly, sadly the sound stopped just prior to finding the chicks.
The best outcome would be to reunite these little ones but that can only happen if the parent birds are found to still be around. If that isn't possible they will be raised in WIRES care and soft released when old enough to fend for themselves.
Brett is keeping ears and eyes peeled and will contact us if the parent birds are found.
Image by Julie Marsh
In January, WIRES NR received a call to rescue a Royal Spoonbill chick who had fallen from its nest in the middle of Lismore. Spoonbill nesting colonies can consist of many pairs who each build a solid bowl shaped nest out of sticks. They seem to prefer large hoop pine trees and can be a considerable distance from water.
The nest was too high to replace the chick and the following week another slightly younger chick fell. This chick was weak and suffering from heat exhaustion.
The chicks were initially rehydrated then tube fed until they regained strength. When they were ready to fledge an attempt was made to return them to the nest tree, but all the other chicks had fledged and all spoonbills had left! Getting the chicks into a flock was important, as although the were now self feeding, they needed the experience and safety of other spoonbills to survive. Despite an extensive search of all waterways surrounding Lismore, no spoonbills were sighted. Spoonbills can travel hundreds of kilometres to find suitable water ways and hopes of returning the two chicks into a flock were diminishing.
Nesting platform in care
Sharing a drink whilst in care
Ready for release
Fortunately, it was discovered a flock of spoonbills visit the waterways next to Seabird Rescue at Ballina and the two chicks were transported to SBR. Happily, the chicks were released a couple of days later when some spoonbills were sighted.
Images by Melanie Barsony
This little mountain brushtail was found last Friday when a team of people were doing bush regeneration work in the area behind Bunnings Lismore Trade Entrance, in the trees near the river.
He was found alone, on the ground laying on his back in a very bad way. He was very dehydrated as the day was so hot, and it is unclear how long he had been away from his mum. At this age Mountain brushtails would be mostly carried in their mum’s pouch, starting to venture onto her back for short periods of time.
Anthony, an ecologist who was one of the team, rushed the little guy to Uralba Street Vet clinic, and one of our rescuers picked him up and brought him into care. He was very dehydrated, and it took several days of intensive rehydration until we were confident he would recover.
A big thank you to Anthony and the bush regeneration team for being vigilant and spotting this little possum, acting quickly and getting him the help he needed.
He will be buddied up with a female Mountain Brushtail when he is a bit older, they will be released together once old enough to fend for themselves towards the end of the year
Image by Renata Phelps
Leading up to the weekend of 11/12 February, WIRES northern Rivers members were on alert for high temperatures which could impact on flying-fox camps in Casino, Kyogle and possibly other locations. WIRES members were rostered on to monitor and attend.
After repeated days of high temperatures, Saturday reached 43 degrees in Casino and several hundred bats sadly died from the compounding effects of the heat. Several hundred more died overnight and were found on the ground on Sunday morning.
On Sunday, our members were rostered on from 7am and many stayed despite the extreme heat until nightfall.
During the day, temperatures climbed to 46 degrees and approximately 2000 bats died.
WIRES members, with the help of RFS sprayed the foliage of roost trees to help cool and hydrate the bats still in the trees.
Live bats which fell were rehydrated and released. Hundreds of bats were saved.
Similarly, a rescue operation at Kyogle cooled and rehydrated hundreds of bats, sadly, about 100 bats died there.
Many other flying-fox camps around NSW were also affected.
THE Northern NSW Local Health District has warned North Coast residents to avoid handling or touching dead flying foxes or Microbats following the recent extreme heat. If you find a dead bat do not touch it, call your local council. Should you find a live bat in distress do not touch the bat, please call WIRES on 66281898.
Live bats which fell were rehydrated and released. Hundreds of bats were saved.
Images by Julie Reid
The need for responsible pet ownership
In the Northern Rivers being the second most biodiverse area in Australia we are very lucky to still have a broad range of wildlife in our towns and cities.
With this comes a responsibility we all must share and that is to ensure our precious wildlife is as safe as possible as they go about their daily and in many cases nightly duties foraging for food.
This little Swamp wallaby came into care last night due to being dropped by her mum that was being chased by a dog on an oval in Lismore.
Ovals are usually covered in grass, which is much needed food for our wallabies trying to cope with loss of habitat.
Mum got away, but that may not mean all is well in her life, being chased by a dog may result in her demise some days or even weeks later due to a condition called Myopathy. Macropods are not equipped to deal with stress; we can only imagine the stress she endured yesterday whilst the dog chased her and the consequences of that chase.
Please make sure your dog is on a leash where wildlife may be present.
We would like to thank the member of the public that rescued her joey; also thank you to Keen St Veterinary clinic for helping this little joey when she was brought to the clinic.
She is just 5 months old and will be in care for approximately 8 months growing up with other wallabies of similar stages of development.
All will be released together around the end of September once old enough to fend for themselves.
If you would like to join WIRES and learn more about our native wildlife, help them survive into the future, please give us a call on 66281898, or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next workshop will take place 26 February in Lismore.
Images by Jeanette Dundas
This little Boobook owl chick was found on a busy road after it was pulled from its nest hollow and dropped by a predator. It suffered puncture wounds and bruising to one wing and was very weak and dehydrated.
It recovered well from its injures and grew quickly. Unfortunately the nest hollow and parents could not be located, so it will stay in care until old enough to be released.
Southern Boobooks are Australia’s smallest owls and may be found throughout the mainland and Tasmania. They hunt insects and small mammals such as mice during the night and sometimes at dawn and dusk. Like all owls they depend on nest hollows to breed. Boobooks are commonly called Mopokes due to their distinctive call.
Images by Melanie Barsony
On the 8th January Wires Northern Rivers hotline received a call from a member of the public about a snake that had been observed in the same position for quite some time. A WIRES reptile handler went to investigate and found that the Coastal carpet python was actually sitting on her eggs; unfortunately she did was not very well.
Overburdened with ticks andhaving a large mass internally (not supper) she had to be taken into care along with her eggs.
The Python and eggs were transferred to a WIRES reptile carer where the eggs were placed in an incubator with the hope that they were not damaged.
Mum Python was taken to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital where it was discovered that three eggs were still inside her and they were responsible for her discomfort, having caused an infection. The eggs were carefully removed and she was brought back for care.
Just 13 days after the eggs were placed in the incubator, two eggs hatched and a further two the following day.
The four young Pythons were released two days later into a lovely place with lots of undergrowth to find new homes for themselves.
Mum will be released close to where she was found when she has fully recovered.
Images by Melanie Barsony and Marion Nel
Platypus are fascinating animals, we all love to see them in our creeks and dams, but rarely are we lucky enough to spot one. They are a semi-aquatic mammal that lays eggs; their beak is rubbery and feels like suede, it is also flexible as is the webbing on their feet. The beak is used to dig up food from the creek bed, prey is detected by electroreceptors on the bill. The eyes and ears as well as the nostrils are closed whilst under water. The fur is waterproof which allows it to stay warm in and out of the water.
Breeding occurs in our local area around September, the female will lay 1 or 2 eggs which she incubates against her abdomen for about 2 weeks, she will at this stage be inside a blocked off nest at the end of a long burrow called a breeding burrow. The young Platypus will suckle the mother for 4 -5 months, milk is excreted through the skin on the abdomen, they have no teats.
Platypus rarely comes into care as they are fairly safe in their aquatic habitat. Most of their time is spent within their burrows; they only go into the water to feed.
Burrow locations are carefully chosen, nearly all burrows are found in river or cheek banks rising one metre or more above the water, well concealed by overhanging vegetation and made strong by plant roots reducing the likelihood of burrows being damaged by erosion.
The most common reason Platypus get into trouble is when rivers and creeks rise due to flash flooding. At this time of the year, juvenile Platypus are still dependent on mum and have not yet left the burrow. They can be washed into the creek, at times taken by the current and washed away from mum and the burrow.
This juvenile male came into WIRES care last week two days after flash flooding of our local creeks. He was found swimming awkwardly, and easily picked up. He was exhausted, had swallowed lots of water and was covered in ticks. He sadly died within 12 hours of being found from pneumonia and exhaustion.
Thank you Andrea and Alstonville vet for helping this little fellow, sadly he was found too late, but rest assured he died peacefully whilst fast asleep.
If you live near creeks or rivers, please look out for young Platypus at this time of the year if flash flooding occurs, a young one may be able to be saved if found in time.
Please keep our rivers and creeks clean, do not dump rubbish of any kind, animals such as these can become tangled and are unable to swim or feed.
Image by Leoni Byron-Jackson
Spoonbills are named for their spatula like beak which they use to forage for food on the foreshores of lakes, marshes and dams.
In the wild they mainly eat fish, crustaceans and insects; it is fascinating watching this bird move its beak from side to side through the water looking for food.
This Royal Spoonbill came into care with WIRES after falling from its nest, which is a structure of twigs and branches very high, in this case a large pine tree, on Monday 9th January at Lagoon's Grass near Lismore.
A lovely lady named Veronica placed the chick on a lower branch hoping the parent birds would come down to feed it. But as there were other chicks in the nest high in the tree the parent birds will always favour those chicks, having trouble feeding chicks in two locations.
The chick fell again so Veronica phoned Wires and the Spoonbill chick was taken into care, he was promptly named Walter.
Veronica was more than willing to monitor the nest and let us know as soon as the other chicks started to leave the nest; the plan was to reunite Walter with his family at that stage.
On 15 January the call came from Veronica advising the spoonbill chicks had fledged, hopping from branch to branch and flying between 2 large pine trees. Walter was going home.
He was placed as high as possible in one of the pine trees and slowly he began to make his way up the tree hopping from branch to branch and flying short distances getting closer to his siblings.
Veronica monitored the reunite, and sent this message the following day:
"Walter is good, they are all in the big tree at the house together and have been flying from tree to tree, the parents have been feeding them 😊 So far so good”.
Message received today from Veronica:
“The spoonbills all fly out of a day and go fishing somewhere and usually come back of a night to the tree. They seem to be living the perfect spoonbill life”.
Thank you Veronica for calling WIRES and for your continued involvement ensuring this beautiful bird’s return to its family and life in the wild.
Images by Julie Marsh & Kim McCully
A Second Chance for Laughing Kookaburras
On the 29th and 30th Dec three juvenile Laughing Kookaburras were released at Goonellabah, Northern NSW.
It is not always possible to reunite chicks or juvenile birds once they have been rescued. The next best outcome is to raise in captivity and then soft release. During the soft release process the juvenile kookaburras are support fed slowly reducing food until they are independent.
Each of the kookaburras recently released came from different circumstances.
A juvenile kookaburra from Goonellabah was found on the ground weak and hungry. After a couple of days care her energy levels were restored and an attempt was made to reunite but the adult kookaburras had moved on. This youngster was still dependent on the parent birds so needed to be raised in captivity.
The other two kookaburras came from Byron Bay. Both had fallen from their tree hollows and couldn't be reunited as their hollows were much too high. One was pink, unfeathered with eyes still shut; the other had just developed pin feathers. These little ones needed specialised care before they were old enough to be transferred to an aviary.
During their time in the aviary these juvenile Laughing Kookaburras had formed a bond and became more independent each day. Their natural hunting instinct had kicked in this was obvious by the way they sat, watched and swooped down at anything that moved.
Their flying skills were becoming more proficient, at first crash landing but eventually landing on fixed and swinging perches. They were also becoming restless, it was time, these youngsters had developed the skills to survive outside the aviary.
A local Laughing Kookaburra named Bolshy who had been raised in captivity and released in 2015 was showing an interest in these kookaburras. He perched in the trees near the aviary and communicated to those in care.
On the 29th two of the juvenile kookaburras were released. It didn't go as planned one just flew off and went south. The other perched in the pine trees near the aviary and was soon joined by Bolshy, they flew off together in the opposite direction.
Later that day the three kookaburras were seen together, they had explored the territory, discovered where the support food was and seemed settled.
The overwhelming event to witness was seeing Bolshy, last years soft release, feed one of the young kookaburras. I was no longer concerned about their well-being Bolshy was going to be a parent and teacher to these juveniles.
Bolshy as an inexperienced adult kookaburra would gain valuable breeding experience with these youngsters.
The next morning the third juvenile was released.
It was such a pleasure on the second day of release to see the 4 kookaburras perched on the same branch in a large eucalypt tree.
These Laughing Kookaburras may eventually disperse and become helpers in other family groups, or this could be the start of their own family group.
It is such a rewarding experience being a WIRES volunteer.
When you care and release animals back to the wild you do make a difference.
Story and Images by Julie Marsh
Wildlife caring involves many roles, not just caring for animals. Transporting wildlife after rescue to an appropriate carer is a regular and often urgent need. Sometimes, transport has to be arranged between WIRES branches.
Two Collared Sparrowhawk chicks survived after a storm brought down much of the tree where they were nesting. The parent birds were nowhere to be seen so any chance of reuniting the chicks was lost. After initial care by another WIRES branch, a raptor carer was needed but none were available at the time in that area. A Northern Rivers Branch member drove 5 1/2 hours round trip to bring the precious cargo to a raptor carer in Casino who hopes to release them in future.
Collared Sparrowhawks are a small secretive hawk who are found in woodlands, farmlands and sometimes urban areas. Collared Sparrowhawks rely on trees or tall shrubs for cover to ambush their prey, darting out to catch them. At other times they sit quietly and are very easily overlooked.
Collared Sparrowhawks mainly eat small birds caught in flight, including the introduced sparrows and starlings, as well as lizards, insects and occasionally small mammals. They hunt during the day, and also at dawn and dusk to catch birds at their roost sites. They have a very long middle toe used to clutch their prey.
Image by Melanie Barsony
Extreme hot weather affects humans and animals alike. This Pacific Baza chick was found on the ground at Bentley on day three of last week’s heatwave, when temperatures reached 40 degrees. She was being hassled by crows but fortunately suffered no injuries apart from being severely dehydrated and heat stressed. She recovered slowly and after a week in care an attempt will be made to reunite her with her parents. If this is not possible she will be raised until natural dispersal age and released near where she was found.
Pacific Bazas are a docile hawk with distinctive barred chest and a crest. They hunt primarily in tree foliage for large insects and frogs but will also take small birds, nestlings and small fruit such as native figs. They are found commonly in the tropics and appear to be increasing their range southward in NSW past the Sydney region.
Image by Melanie Barsony
WIRES is recruiting! Your local branch of NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service is an all-volunteer organisation that needs new members throughout the Northern Rivers region. WIRES offers a basic training course that will teach you how to safely rescue and provide emergency care for injured and orphaned wildlife. If you would like to join WIRES and participate in our RICC on 26 February, please contact us as soon as possible. Call our 24 hour hotline on 6628 1898 or click here