Top End weeds and their effect on birds: flights

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Top End weeds and their effect on birds: flights
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2016 20:09:50 +0000
Good morning all

It’s been a rather dry but stormy February here in the Top End.  One lightning 
strike took out a large tree, our internet connections.  It sent shards of 
trunk up over two metres in length flying for over forty metres in all 
directions, some landing on our verandah.

Our outdoor activity at this time of year mainly consists of weeding.  It’s a 
battle to preserve a variety of native grasses and herbs for resident birds 
such as Partridge Pigeon from a variety of interlopers capable at transforming 
our floristically diverse property to a monoculture.  These weeds were  mainly 
brought in as cattle pasture or as contaminants in cattle pasture.

The cattle industry has fought tooth and nail to prevent some of these grasses 
being declared weeds.  However some of these weeds are now causing issues for  
graziers.  According to a real estate agent properties with gamba grass 
infestations are not selling.  Secondly, and probably a bigger issue for the 
cattle industry, is another weed, a Rats-tail grass (Sporobolus jaquemontia).  
The silica in this grass causes a condition called smooth-mouth among stock.  
Cattle suffering from this condiition have teeth so worn down they cannot feed 

Rats-tail grass, according to one grazier, is more difficult than other weeds 
to control, one reason being that has a sticky seed and is easily spread both 
by vehicles and animals moving through it.  Secondly, birds such as 
Magpie-geese favour the seed and move through the grass stripping the heads as 
they go.  So some granivores may benefit from it, although probably not 
Partridge Pigeons.  They feed in a similar mannter, but only on small grass 
taxa, such as Eragrostris spp.

Lastly,  can anyone tell me whether it would be better for a US visitor 
travelling to Singapore then on to Bali and finally Darwin to book and pay for  
tickets from Australia or the USA?

Denise Lawungkurr  Goodfellow
PO Box 71
Darwin River, NT, Australia 0841
043 8650 835

PhD candidate, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Founding Member: Ecotourism Australia
Nominated by Earthfoot for Condé Nast’s International  Ecotourism Award, 2004.

With every introduction of a plant or animal that goes feral this continent 
becomes a little less unique, a little less Australian.

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