Landcare SJ recently caught up with Darren Hamley, science coordinator of the gifted and talented education programme at Willetton Senior High School. Darren has been working with students to monitor and analyse activity in three Cockatubes situated in Applecross. The purpose of our visit was to learn more about Darren’s experience with using a number of different solar powered cameras attached to artificial nestboxes. The cameras send images and videos through a Wi-Fi network.
Darren indicated that they had observed seven bird species entering the Cockatubes, including Carnaby’s and Forest Red Tail Black Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Australian Wood Ducks and Shell Ducks, as well as Galahs - which successfully fledged a clutch of chicks. One Red Tailed Black Cockatoo was observed entering and exiting a Cockatube 69 times in one day. Students have mapped facial markings to identify different Red Tailed Black Cockatoo individuals and produced data relating to laying, hatching and fledging of the Galah clutch.
Darren has been a great supporter of the Cockatube project, and gave a presentation at Landcare SJ a couple of years ago on his Australia wide tour to photograph every Australian species of Cockatoo. His images were featured by Australian Geographic. (https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2017/08/great-australian-cockies/)
More recently, Darren has modified Landcare SJ’s Cockatube design to suit the breeding ecology of Major Mitchells Cockatoos, and has placed artificial hollows at Eyre Bird Observatory in South Australia.
The visit was particularly beneficial to learn about the different types of cameras, image quality, storage battery life, and camera placement. This information will add to Landcare SJ’s current monitoring and maintenance program of 78 Cockatubes in the Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire, funded through the State NRM Office.