Life Along Lane Cove River
Lane Cove River was an important food and water resource, and transport route for Aboriginal peoples. Many shell middens still survive along the shores and nearby shelters, reflecting the rich cultural and spiritual life and the connection between people, Country and law.
Today, the river offers an opportunity for recreation and enjoyment and is an essential ecological part of the natural environment of Lane Cove.
Estuarine mangroves dominant many parts of the river on mudflats exposed to daily tidal activity. Two species of mangroves are found in Lane Cove - Grey Mangroves (Avicennia marina) grow next to the water and River Mangroves (Aegiceras corniculatum) are found on the inland side of the river.
Go for a bushwalk
Along Ventemans Track, take your time to look and listen for the sights and sounds of life along the river.
You will discover nesting boxes and interpretive signage with information about some of the birds and mammals that call the Lane Cove River home. You can also listen to the bird calls by using the QR codes.
Many of these animals rely on hollows for shelter. In urban areas, mature trees that provide hollows are limited. Nesting boxes in parks or household gardens are an important alternative providing the shelter and safety these animals need to raise their young.
Enjoy this peaceful riverside walk.
Songster of the Bush - Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis)
You may hear the distinctive whistling song of the Golden Whistler before you see them in lower or mid-level vegetation.
The male is a striking sight with its bright yellow feathers, contrasting black head and neck strap. The female is the opposite, blending into the bush surrounds with her grey colouring.
Golden Whistlers feed on insects, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, spiders and berries.
Their nest is a shallow bowl of leaves, twigs and bark bound together with spider web and lined with soft grass. Two to three blotched cream eggs are laid. Both birds build the nest and share parenting duties.
Flashes of Red - Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)
Flashes of bright red distinguish this little bush bird. The red is found on its beak, head and rump with a grey chest and olive coloured back and wings.
A seed eater, this bird can sometimes be found in small groups on the ground eating the seeds of grasses.
The nest is large and domed, made of twigs and grass with a side entrance. It is usually built in the middle layer of bush about one to two metres above ground. Both parents take care of nest building, sitting on the eggs and feeding the chicks.
Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus)
A medium sized bird, with turquoise colouring and a distinctive large beak. Sacred Kingfishers hunt for their food mainly on land, preferring crustaceans, reptiles, insects and occasionally eating fish.
They can sometimes be seen perching on low exposed branches looking for their prey with sharp eyesight. Once spotted, they will swoop, grasp prey in their beak and fly back to their perch to enjoy their meal.
Their loud calls of 'kik, kik, kik' or 'ch-rrr-k' when nesting and a loud 'shreeek' when defending their nest can sometimes be heard.
Sacred Kingfishers are solitary birds, unless it is breeding season when both sexes build a nest by excavating a burrow in an arboreal termite nest, hollow branch or in a riverbank. Both parents care for the eggs and chicks.
A Spotted Beauty - Spotted Pardalotes (Pardalotus punctatus)
Spotted Pardalotes (Pardalotus punctatus) are one of the smallest Australian birds who spend most of their time in the tree canopy searching for insects and sugary ooze from leaves and psyllids (tiny sap-sucking insects).
They build their nest in a long horizontal tunnel in an earth bank, tree hollow, or even in the soil of potted plants and compost piles. The nest is made up of strips of bark and is built in a chamber at the end of the tunnel. Both parents share in the nest building and feeding of the chicks.
A Silent Fisher - Southern Myotis - Fishing Bat
Bats evolved as flying animals at least 60 million years ago and here in Australia we have 90 species. They are important mammals for forest pollination and pest control, with insectivorous bats eating up to 1000 mosquitoes an hour!
Many people know about fruit bats, but how many of us know about fishing bats?
The Southern Myotis – Fishing Bat has been spotted along the Lane Cove River flying low over the water fishing for food. They ‘rake’ the water with their feet picking up aquatic insects and small fish.
When not fishing, during the day they roost in tree hollows, caves and even under bridges. Bat nesting boxes can also provide shelter, especially in urban areas where natural shelter may be limited.
They breed once a year and give birth to one young.
An Agile Acrobat of the Bush - Sugar Gliders
Sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps) have a membrane of skin from their baby finger to their ankle which enables them to glide up to 50m from tree to tree!
Bite marks on trees that look like long, parallel lines high up on the trunk, especially on bloodwood trees, are evidence that sugar gliders live in the area. They bite through the bark to get to the sap, licking it up with their tongues.
Sugar Gliders are marsupials, nesting in small hollows in trees and giving birth to twins that stay in the pouch for two months. They are active at night time and make a high pitched ‘yipping’ sound.
Nocturnal visitors - Brushtail Possums and Ringtail Possums
Brushtail (Trichosurus vulpecula ) and Ringtail Possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) are regular visitors to urban gardens. Both are nocturnal, tree dwelling marsupials. Brushtails usually make a nest in tree hollows, while Ringtails make a round nest called a ‘drey’ from leaves, native grass and shredded bark.
In urban areas, mature trees can be rare and there is competition from many different species to secure a hollow. As a substitute, Brushtail Possums sometimes make their nests in roof spaces. A nesting box placed high in a tree in dense vegetation, may be a solution to a possum in the roof.
Brushtail possums usually have one baby that is carried in the female’s pouch for six months. Ringtails usually have two babies and the young leave the pouch at four months. Ringtails can be distinguished by their brown body fur and prehensile, ring shaped tail with a white tip. Brushtails have black bushy tails, grey colouring, and are a larger size. Both eat leaves, blossoms, fruits and occasionally insects.
Ventemans Reach Nature Walk signage and nesting box
project is a partnership between Lane Cove Council and Sydney Wildlife Rescue,
with thanks to Trent Zimmerman, Federal Member for North Sydney for a funding
grant from the Federal Government's Communities Environment Program.