Waterbirds of Hall’s Pond at Ginninderra

Hall’s Pond at Ginninderra is a perfect habitat for a number of Australian waterbirds. Over two summers, CSIRO researchers conducted informal surveys of the waterbird species at the pond.

About Hall’s Pond

Hall’s Pond was created in 1970 through the construction of a dam across Hall’s Creek. The pond has an average depth of 1.5 metres, with a maximum depth of approximately 2.5 metres in some places. It receives regular inflow from Hall’s Creek and can fill quickly after rain due to the large catchment and shallow depth.

The water is generally clear, with abundant water-plant growth including Rush (Juncus sp.), Cumbungi (Typha orientalis), Tall Sedge (Carex appressa), Common Spikerush (Eleocharis acuta) and Ribbon Weed (Vallisneria australis). Hall’s Pond contains fish, frogs and yabbies which provide a food source for a number of waterbird species.

Hall’s Pond in November 2019 with a low water level, as indicated by the exposed mudflats


Bird surveys

A research team from CSIRO and the University of Canberra tracked Eastern Long-necked Turtles (Chelodina longicollis) at Ginninderra over the summers of 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. During the research the team also conducted informal waterbird surveys at Hall’s Pond and the Ginninderra Farm Dam.

The informal waterbird surveys were undertaken by Micah Davies (CSIRO Environment) and Alex Drew (CSIRO National Collections and Marine Infrastructure). Due to the presence of fish, frogs and yabbies, and the quality of the habitat, a larger number of waterbird species were observed at Hall’s Pond than at the Farm Dam.

A broad range of species are found at the pond at various times throughout the year including Dotterel, Snipe, Terns, Grebes, Coots, Ducks, Ibis, Cormorants, Herons and Pelicans. Information about the species observed at Hall’s Pond including feeding habits and photographs is included in the sections below. Unless otherwise specified, the details about each species have been sourced from the Complete Book of Australian Birds (CBAB), 1986, Readers Digest Services.

Waterbird species observed at Hall’s Pond on a casual basis via (non-formal) surveys conducted between November 2019 and July 2021


Dotterel, Snipe and Terns

The Black-fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops) and Red-kneed Dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus) are species of plover. They feed on invertebrates and seeds.

Black-fronted Dotterel (image by Penny from Pixabay)


Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) is migratory and breeds mainly in northern Japan. The whole population migrates and spends the non-breeding season mainly in eastern Australia. It eats seeds, plant material and invertebrates.

Latham’s Snipe (image by Julian from Unsplash)


Whiskered Terns (Chlidonias hybrida) primarily feed on small fish, amphibians, crustaceans and insects. They often forage by flying above the water, dropping down to catch insects and other invertebrates.

Grebes and Coots

The Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) and Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus) feed on small fish, assorted aquatic insects and crustaceans mostly caught by deep diving. The Australasian Grebe will dive when disturbed, whereas the Hoary-headed Grebe is more likely to fly away (source: Birds in Backyards).

The Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) is found in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and parts of North Africa. The coot is an omnivore, although in Australia they are mostly vegetarian taking less aquatic prey and more algae, vegetation, seeds and fruit than their Eurasian counterparts.

Eurasian Coot (image by Erika R from Pixabay)



The Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) is one of Australia’s largest native ducks. These ducks have a unique quack, with males calling out loudly with a honking-grunting sound and females replying with an ‘ong-ank, ong-ank’ sound. They eat grass, algae, insects and molluscs (source: Australian Museum).

Australian Shelduck (image by Nel Botha from Pixabay)


The Grey Teal (Anas gracilis) and Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) are both types of dabbling duck. They obtain food by ‘dabbling’, where the bird plunges its head and neck underwater and upends, raising its rear end vertically out of the water. They are largely vegetarian, feeding on seeds. They supplement their seed diet by eating crustaceans, molluscs and insects.

Grey Teal (image by Manu Davison from Pixabay)

Pacific Black Duck (image by Penny from Pixabay)


The Hardhead (Aythya australis) or White-eyed duck, is Australia’s only true diving duck. Hardheads feed by deep diving. They can stay submerged for as long as a minute. They eat small aquatic creatures and water weeds (source: Complete Book of Australian Birds; Avibase – The World Bird Database).

Hardhead (image by The Ledge from Pixabay)


The Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) has an odd-shaped bills. It evolved to feed in a specialised manner: water is sucked through the bill-tip, then expelled through grooves along the side of the bill, filtering out tiny invertebrates in the process (source: Birdlife Australia).

Ibis, Herons and Pelicans

The Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) and Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) have long beaks that they use to probe water and mud for food. Their diet includes both terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and vertebrates. The Australian White Ibis also feeds on food waste from humans. The Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) feeds mainly on terrestrial invertebrates, especially grasshoppers and locusts (source: Birdlife Australia, Birds in Backyards).

Glossy Ibis (image by Karsten Madsen from Pixabay)


White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) are the most commonly seen herons in Australia. They feed on fish, insects and amphibians.

White-face Heron (image by Manu Davison from Pixabay)


The Australian Pelican’s (Pelecanus conspicillatus) bill is 40 cm – 50 cm long and is larger in males than females. Pelicans mainly eat fish, but they are opportunistic feeders and eat a variety of aquatic animals including crustaceans, tadpoles and turtles (source: Australian Museum).

Australian Pelican (image by Penny from Pixabay)



The Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) and Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos) feed on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects. They catch their prey underwater by diving and swimming using their feet for propulsion. As their feathers are not waterproof, cormorants are regularly seen perched with their wings outstretched to dry after fishing (source: Birds in Backyards).

Little Pied Cormorant (image by Manu Davison from Pixabay)


Current and future waterbird survey plans

We engaged an environmental consultant earlier this year to conduct conservations surveys at Ginninderra. In summer, they conducted a bird habitat assessment as part of this work. In spring 2023, they’ll revisit some of the key habitats identified and undertake systematic bird surveys at 12 locations, including around Hall’s Pond.

The survey around Hall’s Pond will build on the informal survey work to provide us with a better understanding of the number of waterbirds and the range of species present.

The other survey locations will include suitable woodland, dry forest, riparian land and derived native grasslands habitat.

Building removals underway on Ginninderra

CSIRO advises local residents that building removal works will be carried out at our Ginninderra site from May through June 2023.

The removal of up to 10 structures follows the relocation of CSIRO’s agricultural research to the Boorowa Agricultural Research Station and is a step towards preparing the property for proposed future urban use.

The building removal is scheduled to take place during 7 am-5 pm work hours from Monday-Friday.

The removal works have been approved by the National Capital Authority and will be carried out in line with relevant Australian standards and appropriate authorities such as ACTPLA, Comcare and ACT Work Cover.

While most of these buildings or structures are not close to residential areas, we expect that there will be times where residents can see and hear machinery operating and see truck movements across the property, if you are in the area at those times.

None of the works are in the identified conservation areas, however special measures will be in place to ensure tree protection and ecological protection throughout the works.

After removal of the structures the work sites will be remediated in line with Environmental Protection Authority guidelines by a suitably qualified environmental consultant.

New research offers insights into turtle movements at Ginninderra

Ginninderra has a resident population of Eastern Long-necked Turtles (Chelodina longicollis) that use its dams, pond and creek. Researchers from CSIRO and the University of Canberra have monitored their movements over two summers to get a better understanding of their behaviour.

About the Eastern Long-necked Turtle

The Eastern Long-necked Turtle is a native semi-aquatic freshwater turtle which inhabits a wide range of water bodies in natural and developed environments. They prey on fish, tadpoles, frogs, crustaceans and macroinvertebrates. They are known to move across the landscape to lay eggs or to locate alternative water and food resources. The turtle is a common species which has overall benefitted from the construction of farm dams and water bodies. However, populations have been impacted by fox predation and urbanization.

The Eastern Long-necked Turtle.

Turtles at Ginninderra

Most water bodies at CSIRO’s Ginninderra site contain turtle populations. The two main water bodies – a large Farm Dam and Hall’s Pond – are part of the water infrastructure created for farm agricultural activities. Turtles colonised the dams after they were created, most likely from nearby waterways such as Hall’s Creek and Ginninderra Creek.

The research project

The research was undertaken by Micah Davies and Melissa Piper (CSIRO Environment), Alex Drew (CSIRO National Collections and Marine Infrastructure) and Bruno Ferronato (University of Canberra and ACT WaterWatch).

The research team tracked turtles living in the Farm Dam and Hall’s Pond at Ginninderra over the summers of 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. They found a healthy turtle population at the site, capturing and releasing 55 turtles in the first season and 78 turtles in the second season. Captured turtles were weighed, measured, sexed and assessed for general health.

A small number of turtles also had a tracker attached before they were released to monitor their movements. For ethical reasons, turtles could not carry a tracker that comprised more than 5% of their body weight so only turtles that were heavy enough had a tracker attached.

Previous studies had only used radio trackers, which provide basic data about turtle movements between locations. For this study, both radio and GPS (satellite) trackers were used. This provided the team with more details about the exact routes turtles took when moving between locations.

A turtle with a tracker attached.

Four turtles being released into the Farm Dam with trackers attached.


Turtle movements in 2019-2020

During 2019-2020, five female turtles were tracked. Three of these turtles made terrestrial movements that were recorded for at least 30 days, helping identify refuge areas and movement paths.

There were record drought conditions during this season which significantly reduced the water level in the Farm Dam where the turtles were living. It’s likely that these conditions led the turtles to search for a site with less fluctuation in the water levels. As the Farm Dam is an isolated body of water, the turtles would need to move over land to seek an alternative. Turtles were found sheltering under native flora, such as eucalyptus plantings and tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis), along the route that they followed. An increase in turtle movements due to the dry weather is supported by Ginninderra staff recording 96 turtle sightings in summer 2019-2020.

The movements from the Farm Dam of the three turtles that were tracked in 2019-2020. Each turtle is represented by a different colour.


Turtle movements in 2020-2021

During 2020-2021, 26 turtles were tracked from both Hall’s Pond and the Farm Dam – 21 female, 4 male and 1 unknown. Five turtles provided detailed terrestrial movement data, with two moving beyond the property boundary to an adjacent creek. The majority of tracked turtles remained in the water bodies throughout the season. This season was very wet and dam levels were high, meaning that the turtles had improved habitat conditions through increased food availability and water quality. It’s likely that this reduced their movement, as they had less need to seek better conditions elsewhere. This is supported by Ginninderra staff having not seen many turtles on land in 2020-2021.

The wetter La Nina seasonal conditions meant that turtles could move from the Farm Dam towards Ginninderra Creek by following the natural drainage line through waterlogged paddocks. They also moved to a nearby small dam. These movements are different to 2019-2020, with the possibility that the drier conditions meant a suitable path to the creek wasn’t available that season.

A small patch of vegetation between the Farm Dam and small farm dam was used for several days by several turtles in the 2020-2021 season, either as refuge or for aestivation (similar to hibernation). No stops were made by the turtles that crossed an open paddock area, possibly because there was no shelter available.

Combined turtle movements from the Farm Dam for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.


The movements from Hall’s Pond of four turtles that were tracked in 2020-2021.

Overall insights into turtle movements

The active movement of turtles during the dry summer of 2019-2020 compared to their relatively limited movement in the wet summer of 2020-2021 supports previous research findings. Turtles are opportunistic and will seek better habitat conditions if needed or remain where they are if conditions are good.

The difference in movement patterns between the Farm Dam (overland, relatively long) compared to Hall’s Pond (in stream or short overland) suggests turtles from Hall’s Pond don’t need to make terrestrial movements because they can remain in the pond or creek and use the creek to access other wetlands if required. By comparison, turtles from the non-connected Farm Dam need to make overland movements to reach other aquatic habitats.

The use of shelter by turtles in both seasons suggests that they will use shelter when it is available, reducing the threat of exposure from hyperthermia and dehydration, and helping protect them from predators. They were also able to safely travel 200m from the Farm Dam to the small farm dam in 2020-21. This distance could potentially help determine a recommended maximum distance between refugia for turtles. The GPS tracker data shows that most turtle movements occurred in the evening. Movements out of dams occurred when the temperature was around 20°C and the relative humidity was over 50%.

Next steps

Although the dataset from the study was small, it offered some good insights into the behaviour of turtles at Ginninderra. The learnings from using the trackers will also help inform how this equipment can be better utilised in future turtle research.

The project expanded on previous research to confirm the water bodies at Ginninderra are an important habitat for this native turtle and added new and detailed data on exact movement pathways between habitats which are essential to the management of this species.

The findings will be used to inform our ongoing site management and future environmental planning for Ginninderra. The research team are also planning to prepare the findings for publication in a scientific journal.

A turtle heads for water at Ginninderra.

Boorowa builds on Ginninderra’s research legacy

CSIRO’s Boorowa Agricultural Research Station opened in November 2019. In just three years, the facility has already made significant breakthroughs in crop science, agronomy and farming systems that build on CSIRO’s agricultural research legacy in NSW and the ACT.

Boorowa Agricultural Research Station (BARS) is a purpose-built 290 hectare facility in south west NSW that is helping develop Australian farms of the future. Agricultural research progressively transferred to BARS from the former Ginninderra Experiment Station, with the final agricultural research activities concluding at Ginninderra in June 2021.

BARS is continuing CSIRO’s long history in agricultural breeding and genetics, with hundreds of small plots dedicated to the development of new varieties of wheat, canola and grain legumes, as well as pastures. The facility also operates experiments on strategies such as nutrient management, crop and pasture sequences, and sowing times.

The Boorowa Agricultural Research Station has hundreds of small plots dedicated to crop research, continuing the legacy of the former Ginninderra Experiment Station.

The Boorowa Agricultural Research Station has hundreds of small plots dedicated to crop research, continuing the legacy of the former Ginninderra Experiment Station.

Some of the CSIRO technological innovations that have benefitted from research happening at BARS include:

As well as enabling research into new farming technologies, BARS is also providing key insights into farm management practices. One area of innovative research at BARS involves managing and monitoring soil organic carbon.

Soil organic carbon is an important component of soil health and supports plant productivity and soil biodiversity. By better understanding soil carbon and how it cycles through the environment, production efficiency can be improved while reducing the net amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Detailed soil analysis and mapping has been undertaken at BARS. This enables CSIRO to understand current levels of soil carbon, which areas of the facility are more vulnerable to loss, and possible management practices to capture the production and sustainability benefits.

Detailed soil analysis and mapping has been undertaken at the Boorowa Agricultural Research Station (BARS) to measure soil organic carbon levels.

Research at BARS is also enabling Australian growers to optimise their decision-making and planning through understanding and utilising their soil moisture. Understanding soil moisture helps farmers to forecast yield, forward-sell product, and assess the value of agricultural inputs. In addition, weather monitoring is enabling the development of new ways to put tailored insights about local weather and a changing climate into the hands of Australian farmers.

Data collected from across BARS is input into the Agronomeye AgTwin platform, an online tool that combines high-resolution maps of farming properties and advanced modelling techniques. It allows CSIRO researchers to observe the whole property and see data and insights about individual parts, variance across the site and how elements change over time.

These insights and monitoring from BARS are helping inform CSIRO research into precision agriculture which looks to develop and refine tools to assess, monitor and redress environmental and economic risks associated with agricultural practices. Precision agriculture seeks to exert more control over a production system by recognising variation and managing different areas of land differently, according to a range of economic and environmental goals.

The research at BARS is also enabling CSIRO to develop trusted solutions to help agribusinesses become sustainable as part of our HandPrint initiative.

BARS assists CSIRO to deliver on its commitment to increase food production in cropping and livestock systems, improve drought tolerance and disease resistance, and improve nutritional values to meet the challenges of the future.

BARS is an important education facility enabling knowledge sharing. Field days and VIP visits are an example of this, such as the visit by the Honourable Penelope Wensley AC, Australia’s National Soils Advocate to BARS in 2021 where CSIRO scientists discussed the collaborative Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) project led by CSIRO. The Australian Government funded ANSIS project will provide access to soil data and information needed to help sustainably manage Australia’s soils.

CSIRO scientists explain the new collaborative Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) project led by CSIRO to Australia’s National Soils Advocate, the Honourable Penelope Wensley AC, in 2021. Credit: Office of the National Soils Advocate.

Grazing management for conservation at Ginninderra

The sheep at Ginninderra play a key role in conservation and management of the site by reducing weeds, controlling biomass and reducing fire risk.

Our Grazing Management Plan

The sheep that graze the property are a mix of Merino and crossbred ewes and are provided as part of an agistment arrangement. Grazing at Ginninderra has proven to be the best practice for controlling biomass and fire risk as well as maintaining ground coverage for healthy pastures and competition for weeds.

The sheep’s grazing pattern throughout the year is determined by our Grazing Management Plan. The plan aims to balance agricultural production needs with the right stocking rates and timing for our conservation objectives.

We need to provide adequate pasture and nutrition for the sheep and appropriate lambing paddocks to meet agricultural production needs. We achieve this without affecting conservation by:

Looking after the sheep

Our onsite manager looks after the sheep. This involves checking their health, ensuring that nutritional requirements are met and making sure adequate food and water are available.

When the ewes are lambing, daily checks are required to make sure they’re not having any problems such as breech lambs or cast sheep. Cast is when a sheep has rolled over onto its back and isn’t able to get up without assistance.

We monitor the sheep health for protection against disease and implement and coordinate vaccination programs in line with best practice management standards.

Water supply for the sheep

The water catchment areas are grazed at a lower stocking rate to maintain catchment health and provide opportunities for water to seep into the ground, reducing stormwater pollution, sedimentation build up and encouraging correct infiltration.

We currently use a bore on the eastern side of the property to supply livestock with drinking water to enable natural water catchments to be fenced and protected.

A day in the life of our onsite manager

Our Business and Infrastructure Services team lead the day-to-day property management at Ginninderra. Our onsite manager works closely with our research team and conservation partners to manage and maintain the property.

In this update, we share more about the role of our onsite manager including the projects they support, ongoing site maintenance and some of their day-to-day highlights and challenges working with the site’s flora and fauna.

Maintenance and monitoring in high value conservation areas

Our onsite manager noticed that one of the Little Eagles (Hieraaetus morphnoides) was visiting the site in August. It is the female Little Eagle known as V4 which has a tracker fitted. It is light in colour with white on the underside of its wings. This monitoring is ongoing and very enjoyable to take part in. You can read our latest Little Eagle update to find out more about their recent movements.

A female little eagle flying.

A female Little Eagle known as V4 flying over Ginninderra in August 2022 .


Following the heavy rainfall this year, soil moisture is at capacity and the conservation areas are doing well as a result. We’re expecting good spring growth.

The sheep at Ginninderra are a mix of Merino and crossbred ewes and play a key role in managing the conservation areas. They are used for pulse grazing over the autumn to reduce bulk biomass and open the conservation areas up for new growth. This helps to manage fire risk.

The Box Gum Grassy Woodland and Mongarlowe Mallee conservation and planting areas are fenced off to limit access by livestock and kangaroos. The fences are maintained through regular inspections and carrying out repairs when needed. We have roof tiles placed around Ginninderra to provide protection and shelter for Striped Legless Lizards (Delma impar). These occasionally need to be restacked after livestock or wildlife have been in the paddock.

Grassland restoration project run by the Ginninderra Catchment Group

This project is working to determine best-practice management regimes for restoring ecological conditions of remnant native grasslands in urban environments. Dr Ken Hodgkinson, Honorary Research Fellow with CSIRO Land and Water, is coordinating this research.

These trials have four management treatments – low or high mow in November, biennial spring burn, biennial autumn burn and a control. Our onsite manager’s contribution is to mow or slash plots and the fire breaks around them every three months. They also coordinate with Ken, CSIRO ecologists and the Rural Fire Brigades when burns are conducted to manage weed control.

The last 15 months have been a challenge with the La Nina weather pattern. Vehicle access has been limited at times due to flooding and muddy ground.

Weed management

To help prevent weeds, biosecurity plans are implemented for visitors, contractors, vehicles, wildlife and livestock to eliminate seeds and pests being brought in. Weed management is especially important in the conservation areas.

Inspecting the boundary fences and maintaining them to prevent unauthorised entry to the site also assists with weed management.

Our onsite manager has shared some of more of their recent photographs from around Ginninderra below.

Tree with wood ducks sitting in it.

Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata) perched in a eucalyptus tree – these old large eucalypts with hollows are an important nesting site for laying their eggs.

Water tanks with a purple sunset behind them

Water tanks at sunset.

An echidna walking through a field of grass.

A Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) at Ginninderra.

A herd of sheep walking in a sunny field.

The sheep at Ginninderra are a mix of Merino and crossbred ewes and play a key role in the conservation management of the site.

The Little Eagles return to Ginninderra for spring breeding

After travelling over 2500km since January, our satellite tagged male Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides) has recently returned to Ginninderra for the breeding season. Our tagged female was less adventurous, travelling only 17km and making the most of the prey around Fyshwick.

Jacqui Stol, Senior Experimental Scientist with CSIRO Land and Water, provided us with all the details about the Little Eagles movements since our last update in November 2021.

Travels of the Little Eagles from November 2021 – August 2022

The entire family of raptors at Ginninderra were successfully satellite tagged starting with the Ginninderra female known as V4 on 26 August 2019, the Ginninderra male known as Y4 on 28 January 2021 and the fledgling known as V6 also in January 2021. Unfortunately V6 died in autumn 2021 in western Queensland during a seasonal migration. The operational life of a satellite tracker averages 3 years, so we’re really pleased that our trackers are still in place and working.

In November 2021 the Ginninderra female and male moved into their old nest location in a conservation area near the Ginninderra shearing shed. This breeding event was unsuccessful and they moved into another conservation area in the north west of Ginninderra where they successfully hatched an egg but unfortunately the chick died. The wet, stormy and windy conditions over the breeding season are likely to be the cause as the young birds are vulnerable to poor weather and adults are limited in the amount of prey they can catch.

A second pair of Little Eagles have taken up residence and built a nest near the old police precinct area on Ginninderra East. The male, known as Z4 Pegasus, is also satellite tagged. It normally resides in West Belconnen near the Pegasus Farm Riding for the Disabled. The pair hatched an egg, but the chick died during the violent Murrumbateman / West Belconnen storm in January.

In late January, both the Ginninderra eagles left their breeding territory to fly to their regular autumn / winter locations – Fyshwick for the female (V4) and around Daly Waters in the Northern Territory for the male (Y4). This happened earlier than normal, perhaps because of the unsuccessful breeding attempt. The male travelled 2500km over two weeks. The female only travelled 17km which aligns with previous behaviour.

The Pegasus male (Z4) headed off more around the usual time in late March to Bourke in western NSW, before heading on to the gulf area east of Normanton in northern Queensland. He travelled 2000km and ended up spending the season only 45km or so from another tagged female Little Eagle from Tuggeranong known as Y2. He’s currently in Queensland on his journey back to the ACT. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up when he gets back given that he nested in Ginninderra last season. Maybe he’ll try Ginninderra again this spring.

In August 2022, the Ginninderra male (Y4) and female (V4) eagles returned home safely from their migration. After spending a few weeks bonding, the eagles rebuilt their nest and laid an egg but the nest and egg were unfortunately destroyed in a storm. They have now moved on to Black Mountain.

A map of NSW outlining the male little eagles journey with yellow dots.

The first stage of the male Little Eagle’s (Y4) journey from Ginninderra to the north from January-February 2022, shown via the yellow dots.

A map of Australia outlining the male Little Eagle's journey with yellow dots.

The second stage of the male Little Eagle’s (Y4) journey from Ginninderra to the north from February-March 2022, shown via the yellow dots.

A map of Australia outlining the Pegasus male Z4's migration journey with blue dots.

The Pegasus male Z4 migrated from the old police precinct at Ginninderra to northern Queensland for the autumn/winter. The first stage of his route from March-May 2022 is shown via the blue dots on the map.

A map outlining the Pegasus male Z4 journey with yellow dots.

When the Pegasus male Z4 arrived in northern Queensland in June 2022 he was only 45km away from another tagged female Little Eagle from Tuggeranong (Y2). The male eagle’s movements are shown in blue and the female eagle’s movements are shown in yellow.

Smoke haze research by the Little Eagle Research Group

Meanwhile, our Little Eagle Research Group have been analysing whether the severe smoke haze from bushfires in late 2019 / early 2020 impacted the Little Eagles’ movements. There have been few empirical studies of the sensitivity of birds to the effect of air pollutants, so it’s an exciting opportunity. So far the analysis indicates that there was some impact on the eagles’ activity. Stay tuned for further updates.

About the Little Eagle Research Group

The Little Eagle Research Group is a collaborative study group whose members are Jacqui Stol and Micah Davis (CSIRO Land and Water, Black Mountain), Renee Brawata and Claire Wimpenny (Conservation Research Unit, ACT Government), David Roberts (Ginninderry Joint Venture), Stuart Rae and Penny Olsen (Research School of Biology, Australian National University), Stephen Debus (University of New England) and Don Fletcher.

The overall aim of the study group is to determine the population ecology of the Little Eagle in the ACT and nearby NSW. There is a particular interest in rural areas such as Ginninderra and Ginninderry to ensure that any potential land use change minimises any potential impacts on our Little Eagle residents. The main aspects that this study has focused on are the Little Eagle population status, breeding success, diet, and dispersion locally and nationally. Such information helps assess the main habitats used, foods eaten, and productivity, which is necessary for guidance of any conservation of a species.

In March 2022 the team was invited to join the Global Raptor Collaboration (GRC). The GRC is closely collaborating with the global raptor research community to tackle conservation challenges through data sharing.

Project update – October 2022

It’s been just over a year since Ginninderra was decommissioned for agricultural research activities. Since then, we’ve continued to actively manage the site and conduct ongoing ecological and urban sustainability research with our partners.

In the last nine months we’ve had 741.5mm of rain at Ginninderra, including the highest ever recorded rainfall for a single day of 85.6mm on Thursday 4 August. The conservation areas are looking good from all of the rainfall, with the turtles particularly loving the wet weather. We’re expecting good spring growth as a result.

The Blakely’s Red Gum provenance trial to test the performance of local and exotic provenances of the species is  underway. Ginninderra is one of three trial sites in the ACT as part of a collaboration between the ACT Government, CSIRO and Greening Australia. Recent pictures of  the trial at Ginninderra are shown below.

We recently planted 30 Mongarlowe Mallee (Eucalyptus recurva) tubestock plants. We lost 6 trees and the remaining 24 have extremely wet feet, but they are expected to thrive when spring arrives.

Micah Davies, Senior Experimental Scientist from CSIRO’s Land and Water team, and Alex Drew, Senior Research Technician for the Australian National Wildlife Collection, oversee the ongoing ecological monitoring at the site’s box gum grassy woodlands. In autumn, they carried out monitoring on the response of woodland birds to the restoration of critical mid storey habitat in the Box Gum conservation areas. This monitoring is carried out each spring and autumn. The new shrub habitat was planted by members of the local community in 2017 and 2018 and this new patchy mosaic of shrubs has been growing well (now over 4-5m in height) and has brought back important foraging, nesting and breeding sites for the smaller woodland birds including the Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang) which is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ in the ACT.

In recent months, we have been removing buildings from the former Ginninderra Experiment Station that are no longer required. The majority were at Ginninderra East, with one building also being removed from Ginninderra West. This work is nearing completion and will help prepare Ginninderra East for proposed sustainable future development. None of the works occurred within identified conservation areas, however special measures were in place to ensure protection of trees and sensitive vegetation proximate to these works.

A flooded field at Ginninderra

Flooding at Ginninderra on 4 August 2022 when there was 85.6mm of rain, the highest ever recorded daily rainfall at the site.

A sunny field with Blakely's Red Gum.

The Blakely’s Red Gum from the provenance trials, photographed in August 2022.

Building removals underway on Ginninderra East

CSIRO advises local residents that building removal works will be carried out on the Ginninderra East section of the former Ginninderra Experiment Station from late May through June 2022.

The removal of up to 24 structures follows the relocation of CSIRO’s agricultural research to the Boorowa Agricultural Research Station and is a step towards preparing the property for proposed future urban use.

The building removal is scheduled to take place during 7 am-5 pm work hours from Monday-Friday.

The removal works have been approved by the National Capital Authority and will be carried out in line with relevant Australian standards and appropriate authorities such as ACTPLA, Comcare and ACT Work Cover.

While most of these buildings or structures are not close to residential areas, we expect that there will be times where residents can see and hear machinery operating and see truck movements across the property, if you are in the area at those times.

None of the works are in the identified conservation areas, however special measures will be in place to ensure tree protection and ecological protection throughout the works.

After removal of the structures the work sites will be remediated in line with Environmental Protection Authority guidelines by a suitably qualified environmental consultant.

Project update – April 2022

As we last reported in late 2021, our Ginninderra site has transitioned out of agricultural research and into a new phase that includes ongoing environmental research, conservation and heritage management and preparation for proposed sustainable future development in the eastern portion of the site.

The process of working through decommissioning agricultural research, along with the due diligence studies and work to prepare for divestment, has been extensive and much of it has been undertaken during the prolonged global pandemic. Irrespective of the challenges of this period, CSIRO continues to be committed to carefully working through the elements that will contribute to successful outcomes for sustainable future use, research and conservation.

Our recent activities include procuring further advice on environmental management, traffic modelling studies and external and trunk infrastructure requirements. As part of that work we’ve been liaising with relevant Commonwealth and Territory government departments to secure their advice and input.

We are continuing to actively manage the site and conduct ongoing ecological research, particularly on the Ginninderra West portion of the site. The significant areas of endangered Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands and derived native grasslands continues to be a focus of our research which is being delivered in partnership with conservation groups, ACT government and community collaborators.

We are pleased to report that the mild and wet conditions over summer and early autumn have promoted significant vegetation growth that is most evident in the shrub layer that is emerging strongly in the woodlands and dry forest area, thanks to the volunteer community planters who took part in events of 2017-18.  Our ecologists report that this shrub layer restoration is notably increasing native bird activity and biodiversity in the area.

The collaborative Blakely’s Red Gum provenance trials are also making steady progress and the grassland restoration sites are carrying significant amounts of vegetation including a diversity of native species.  We will have more to report on these projects as further research results become available.

Finally, our understanding of these precious Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands received a boost recently through our co-development of a virtual reality tool that allows you to see how such woodlands have been shaped and changed over time in response to major environmental events and changes.

Stay tuned for our next update.