A man wearing climbing gear and holding a camera pole positions it to view inside a nest box. A ladder is leaning against the tree.

Carl Tippler from Habitat Innovation and Management monitors a nest box installed at The Angle, Bigga.

Results of nest box monitoring has shown that Squirrel Gliders are using Habitech modular nest boxes installed around the Kanangra-Boyd to Wyangala wildlife corridor at The Angle near Bigga, indicating the local population of the threatened species is thriving.

In late February, K2W Link Inc, with Habitat Innovation and Management ecologists Carl Tippler and Mick Callan, monitored the nest boxes and footage from wildlife camera traps. In addition, they checked around twenty nest boxes near Bigga, Tuena and Peelwood. They installed a further nine nest boxes and set up cameras.

“There were very high rates of use of the boxes with some of the properties in excess of 80%,” Mick says.

“A broad range of fauna was recorded using the Habitech nest boxes, including Brushtail Possums, Krefft’s Gliders, Squirrel Gliders, Ringtail Possums and lots of evidence of Rosella nests from the recent breeding season,” Mick says.

In 2022, K2W Link Inc and the Great Eastern Ranges, supported by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), installed ten nest boxes within a few kilometres of the Lachlan River at The Angle. The nest boxes were intended to provide additional homes for hollow-dependent arboreal mammals and birds, and monitoring provides valuable insights into local species, which will inform ongoing management.

Sean and Brenda Proudman own the 300-acre property. The couple has worked to improve the biodiversity of The Angle and reconnect the landscape by preserving the natural habitat of gliding possums, like the River Red Gum. They are also improving the chances of the Squirrel Glider by tackling predation by pest animals.

Their property is an important step in protecting our native wildlife.

The site was established after surveys for birds and bats had shown the small gliding possums were among the night-time animals present at the property.

A squirrel glider climbs from a nest box another is peering from the entrance.

A pair of Squirrel Gliders are caught on camera.

Brushtail Possums were also discovered in two of the nest boxes, and camera footage shows a mother and baby Brushtail Possum using another. Several more had evidence consistent with the nests of Squirrel Gliders. At one site, the footage shows a Squirrel Glider returning every few nights over several months.

“We knew we had gliders because they had been picked up in an audit of bats and night birds, but we didn’t realise they were as plentiful as they seemed to be. The gliders were investigating the new nest boxes within a week of installing them,” Sean says.

The modular design of the nest box means that in areas where gliders have little uptake, other species will be targeted.

“We believe that it is likely that gliders aren’t currently present at these sites. We intend to modify the nest boxes to make them suitable for other species that are present. One of the great things about a modular system is that this is a very simple, quick and cheap change to make,” Mick says.

“We’re always learning and adapting, and monitoring is a really big part of that. Understanding what is using, investigating and potentially preying on animals that shelter in the nest boxes at each site means we can better target habitat for those species.

“Of interest was one box that had been used by European Honeybees. The bees had occupied the box, filled it with honeycomb, and within four months moved on to find a larger home. This is particularly interesting as there are many theories – none proven, that I’m aware of – of how to deter honeybees from nest boxes. But evidence suggests that dependent on the size of the colony, the bees will rather rapidly fill the nest box with honeycomb and move on to a new site leaving the nest box available for other species.

“Typically, to make the nest box habitable again will require gliders, possums or some other lucky critters to get in there and gorge themselves on honeycomb to open the box for future use. All part of the fascinating cycle of nature, and an area slowly gaining more understanding.”

K2W Link Inc is planning more nest box installations in 2023 as part of regenerating country, culture and communities with support from The Great Eastern Ranges and funding from the Australian and NSW Governments Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (BLERF).

Landholders who would like to get involved in the program can email mary@k2wglidways.org.au