Fwd: [BIRDING-AUS] Fwd: Farewell Gouldian Finch?

To: birding aus <>
Subject: Fwd: [BIRDING-AUS] Fwd: Farewell Gouldian Finch?
From: Russell Woodford <>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 19:27:09 +1000

Begin forwarded message:

From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: 27 June 2005 2:08:17 PM
To: Russell Woodford <>
Subject: Re: [BIRDING-AUS] Fwd: Farewell Gouldian Finch?

Some more information according to The Territory Times (24 June). I can send a photo too, if anyone wishes
to see what we're dealing with up here.

The grass is "raging out of control around Batchelor (about 70 kms south of
Darwin).  [I would say that's the case around much of the rural area).

Gamba grass has now been found in Kakadu National Park. In fact, according to ranger Greg Miles it's all the way in, for instance on the track to Jim
Jim Falls.

According to the chairman of the Gamba Action Group, David Welch, a large gamba grass-fuelled fire near Batchelor in 2004, spread 5 kms in 25 minutes. That's not the sort of blaze birders should hang around and take pictures


Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow

From: Russell Woodford <>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 11:43:01 +1000
To: birding aus <>
Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] Fwd: Farewell Gouldian Finch?

Begin forwarded message:

From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: 24 June 2005 3:00:16 PM
To: Michael Hunter <>, Russell Woodford
<>, Charles J Patterson <>
Subject: Farewell Gouldian Finch?

Russell, you might like to post this to all.

On the subject of developers - they simply raze whole suburbs in
Darwin and
surrounds, and have been doing so for decades.  I first noted this
as an
alderman in the early 1980s.

Yet when members of the rural garden club complained about the loss of
species in their gardens the other day, they weren't blaming
developers, but
orchardists. Mango orchards have replaced much of the open forest and
woodland around Darwin, and look like taking over the whole area
from the
city to Mt Bundey Station on the Arnhem Highway.

But rural gardeners were also concerned about an even larger
threat, and not
only to avifauna.

It's called Gamba grass.  This bulky African species grows to 4
metres in
height and forms a thicket so dense that a 4WD has little chance of
a way through.

Fire-adapted this grass burns so hot that our fire-tolerant
eucalypts etc
have little chance of survival.  Even in the early dry season, our
cool fires are burning the tops of trees ten metres tall. What isn't
destroyed by fire, is suffocated.  It grows in most habitats,
taking over
whole vegetation communities.

Here I quote from an Environment Centre release:

Gamba grass, like so many other serious weeds in the NT, was
introduced to
benefit the cattle industry.  It is now overrunning the Darwin
rural area
and scientists at (one) forum warned that at the  current rate of
most of the Top End will be covered with gamba in 50-80 years.  The
ecological, social and economic impacts of this would be utterly
scientists warned.

Gamba Grass has the potential to spread right across northern
Australia from
coast to coast.  Now, let's see what birds it will knock out.  For
a start
there's Chestnut-backed Button-quail, Partridge Pigeon, Gouldian
Finch, and
Yellow-rumped Mannikin.  I can send the map of potential coverage
to anyone
who is interested.  And there should be enough information
available through
Google to convince any doubters.

I remember the outcry generated by first the gold mine in Gouldian
habitat at Mt Todd, and then the destruction of patches of habitat
Gouldian Finches fed, for the railway.  And recently there's been
much done
to alert people about the threat cane toads pose to fauna.  The
impact of
cane toads will pale into insignificance if gamba spreads to the
predicted.  But few seem to be concerned.

Incidentally, it's still legal to plant Gamba grass (it was originally
imported in the 1930s for pastoralists who still I understand, sing

I tried to highlight the issue during the last election.  Our new
member had
not even heard of the grass, and I'd say that applies to most
and Top End residents.

I urge all concerned to write to the Chief Minister, the Hon. Clare
PO Box 3146, Darwin NT 0801.


Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
61 (0)8 89 328306
1/7 Songlark Street, Bakewell, NT 0832

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