Fannie Bay Equestrian Club has more than just horses living on site. Contrary to what you may think, the paddock environment is actually an advantage to many native species. The grounds of the FBEC provide a wide range of habitats for wildlife, with a diversity of animals spotted throughout the year. The area comprises mostly of grasslands with scattered trees and shrubs, but also has a small patch of coastal monsoon forest.
Biodiversity campaigner and coordinator of Frogwatch Graeme Sawyer is very familiar with the area and has the following comment:
“East Point reserve is a biodiversity hot spot which is quite unusual in a capital city and in my view we should be working hard to preserve the elements of the reserve that support this biodiversity.”
“The pony club area is a good example where the fencing that is in place reduces the numbers and times that people are in those areas and this appears to provide “quiet space” for species like the goannas and from our research the concentration of these animals in the vicinity of the Pony club was significant.
"The members of the club have been very supportive of our work to control cane toads in the area and have also been very supportive of the monitor research where the vulnerable species, the yellow-spotted monitor, Varanus panoptes has be shown to be present and breeding on the reserve.”
Animals spotted by Frogwatch Nth and others include:
Snakes: Carpet Python, Olive Python, Water Python, Yellow Tree Snake, Brown Tree Snake, Keelback, Slaty-grey Snake, Northern Small-eyed Snake
Goannas: Yellow-spotted Monitor, Varanus panoptes ( listed as vulnerable in the NT)
Frogs: Green Tree Frog, Red Tree frog, Roth’s Tree Frog,
Birds: Magpie Goose, Bush Stone-curlew, Masked Lapwing (also known as Masked Plover), Red-tailed Black-cockatoo, Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Rainbow Pitta, Goshawk, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Eastern Osprey, Brahminy Kite, Tawny Frogmouth, Spotted Nightjar , Little Kingfisher, Forest Kingfisher, Barking Owl
FBEC actively manages the grounds to support biodiversity. Activities include:
Progressive eradiation of exotic trees and shrubs in particular declared weeds
Native tree planting
Cane Toad trapping
Reptile research and monitoring
Support of the East Point Reserve Biodiversity 5 year Management Plan 2014-2018
In an effort to increase the native biodiversity of the FBEC grounds, large numbers of Neem Tree (declared Class B weed under NT legislation) were removed from the monsoon forest patch in 2015.
The work was undertaken in co-ordination with the Darwin City Council and with the support of Correctional Services. Exotic Coffee Bush and Gmelina trees were also removed from the FBEC grounds and replaced with native trees.
The club sought advice from a local plant ecologist and Greening Australia on plant species native to the coastal location of East Point
The weed management is undertaken by dedicated staff (caretakers), who are trained in weed recognition and herbicide application. The club aims to minimise weeds on its grounds and control declared weeds and the spread of weeds into the reserve.
FBEC fully supports the East Point Reserve Biodiversity 5 Year Management Plan 2014-2018 and its associated biodiversity projects within the reserve, such as the reintroduction of the Atlas Moth (Attacus wardi), revegetation efforts and the establishment of nesting poles for the Eastern Osprey (Haliaeetus cristatus). To ensure all members are aware of activities within the reserve and the expected behaviours, the committee provides clear communication to members, with regular updates and reminders. The committee maintains open communication with the Darwin City Council and other stakeholders.
FBEC supports biodiversity projects and research. Currently Frogwatch Nth is studying large reptiles, including the vulnerable Yellow-spotted Monitor (Varanus panoptes) on the FBEC grounds. Frogwatch Nth also maintains a Cane Toad trapping program on the grounds since, which has significantly reduced the pest species and contributed to the survival of many animals in the reserve. Members take part in toad busts - sometimes on foot, and sometimes on horseback.