(T) Research and other information

December 2023 newsletter : research update

‘Andrew W continues to be active with the camera surveillance (unfortunately confirming the continued presence of deer, see below) and with his Worm Lizard project. No Worm Lizards yet but he did find 4 species of reptiles on a recent inspection including, Boulenger’s Morethias (Morethia boulengeri), Tawny dragons (Ctenophorus decresii), Bougainville’s Slider ( Lerista bougainvillii) and Mallee Black-headed Snake (Parasuta spectabilis). In addition, he also managed to find a Marbled Gecko (Christinus marmoratus) sheltering in a possum box.’

July 2023 newsletter: New research.

Worm Lizard Research Project
Andrew W has set up a research project to investigate the presence of worm lizards in the Tothill Ranges. This involves setting up a pattern of tiles across a part of the property and then checking them at regular intervals. This species is listed as vulnerable under the EPBC act but there is a record of it occurring in the Tothill Ranges. Andrew came up with this idea while supporting a similar project in a conservation reserves to the east of Mt. Bryan, run by a NWPS ecologist Matthew Heard. Matt will be our guest speaker at our AGM in the Tothill Ranges and he will discuss the worm lizard amongst other conservation and ecology related matters.’

February 2023 newsletter – Deer continue to be a problem:

‘Unfortunately deer have become an increasing problem in many parts of the state. This includes the Tothills, where feral deer are causing substantial damage. In addition to managing the native vegetation and landscape, Bushland Conservation has an obligation as a landholder to remove feral deer from its properties. The company has engaged a shooter to control feral pests on the Tothills.
With the support of the property coordinator Andrew Wurst and making use of camera traps, this programme is now achieving some success.’

August 2022 newsletter.

‘Our roo shooter in the Tothills,  has shot several deer and, while at it, 17 foxes! It is good to have these pests removed but unfortunately the fox numbers do not appear to change significantly even with some 60 baits taken last year. Consequently, we are suspending the baiting program this year to see what happens. Andrew’s cameras will tell the story.’

2022 March newsletter.

‘Andrew and the Tothill working group, with the Board’s approval, have instigated a feral deer control program in the Tothills. Ron D, an experienced shooter, has been contracted to carry out the cull. We can expect to pay $3000 pa for his services. The way deer are proliferating it may be a long-term program. Hopefully we will be able to get some grants to help fund the costs. To ensure that there are no safety issues with people wishing to visit the Tothills, you are asked to notify Andrew of any intended visit so that he can let Ron know of your presence. You can contact Andrew on his mobile 0427 764 896 or by email at wurst@bigpond.com.au. We are legally obliged to control feral deer.’


October 2020. Newsletter .

‘The AGM was held in the Tothills this year. Andrew had cameras, recently purchased with grant money, on display, as well as some of the photographic results. These will be used for monitoring a variety of things eg roo numbers, occupants of burrows and users of tracks. It was also suggested they could be used to determine the pollinators of various plants, especially orchids. A. pointed out the need to explore data storage for all the data produced by the cameras. This could be valuable information for researchers in the future.’

D had some information for us about the Bayonet Spider-orchid

‘Early in September I helped ecologist Jerry Smith search for Caladenia gladiolata “Bayonet Spider-orchid”. This orchid is critically endangered in the Southern Lofty region with just a few plants hanging on in Scott Creek Conservation Park.

Historical records show it did occur in the Tothill Ranges. There are a few records from the late 1970s to early 80s. Another known location was from Hornsdale in the early 1900s, now well cleared.

Having seen the habitat at Alligator Gorge where a few hundred plants still survive it still seems a possibility it might be in the Tothills. It prefers hillside woodlands with grassy/herb understory where it can get some sunshine during the day to warm it to release its strong scent. Flowering time is from August to early October.’

To anyone interested in helping find this orchid, please take a photo of any orchid which looks to be this species anywhere in the Northern Lofty region and record the location. This would be a great break through if this species could be rediscovered in this region.’

Caladenia gladiolata -Alligator Gorge

July 2020 Grant

Largely due to some excellent record keeping by A. W., we have won a $5,000 grant to fund Andrew’s and John’s travel for soursob and fox control as well as to purchase 3 motion sensitive cameras.

Luis Williamson, a PhD student at the University of Adelaide researching the evolution of Australian sundews (Drosera spp.) and mutualistic insects (Setocoris spp.) which live on sticky leaf surfaces, feeding on captured prey asked and was given permission to work in the Tothills area.
“Last year, our group discovered that at least one undescribed Setocoris species commonly occcurs on Drosera on Kangaroo Island, through the Adelaide Hills region and in the south-east. Despite apparently being quite common, there have been few sightings of these insects in SA, and no publicly available records exist prior to our 2019 fieldwork.
Although we have (50+ year old!) records of Setocoris sightings near Mt. Remarkable, we haven’t managed to sample north of Kaiserstuhl CP yet. I’m emailing you to inquire about access to the Bushland Conservation Tothill Ranges site to sample Drosera and Setocoris over the 2020 spring season and to ask who the relevant stakeholder(s) are that we would need to contact to request permission for site access.
With the permission of Bushland Conservation, any samples would be used for research purposes only, being lodged with the State Herbarium of South Australia (Drosera) and SA Museum (Setocoris), with duplicates held by the University of Adelaide and UNSW for DNA sequencing.”
2017 February

 Good rains.  JS has been kept busy keeping other fences clear of fallen trees and branches. JS successfully applied for a grant from the Northern and Yorke NRM’s Burra to Kapunda project which covered the costs of volunteers’ travel and fencing materials when 1.2 km of fencing on the western side had to be upgraded.The grant also included money for soursob and fox control. An appreciable part of the grant was donated back to the company by our generous volunteers and shareholders and this can hopefully be used to reduce John’s work load.

2014 (information from the report of the Nature Conservation Society of SA Inc., April 2014- authors Tim Milne, Georgina Mollison and Erin Sautter)

A survey of the flora and fauna in the Tothill range was undertaken by the Nature conservation Society in the spring of 2008 using many volunteers from Bushland Conservation Ltd as well as others. The survey aimed to assess the biodiversity of the region for this significant area of remnant vegetation. Sixteen sites were selected and surveyed for flora and fauna. A total of 223 species of plants were recorded, 182 (82%) were native and 41 were introduced weed species.  18 mammals (including seven bats) were recorded. Ten native mammals were identified to species level, two of the seven bats were identified to genus level (the remainder to species level) and five introduced species were identified.  44 birds, 43 native and one introduced species were recorded. Three species were of state conservation significance: the White Winged Chough, the Peregrine Falcon and the Diamond Firetail. 17 reptiles made up of fifteen lizard and snake species were recorded. Three native amphibian species were found in the surveys. Eight plant species and six animal species of state conservation significance were recorded.