Land for Wildlife
The USC Sunshine Coast campus is a flora and fauna reserve, spread over 100 hectares (1 km2) adjoining the Mooloolah River National Park. In 2013, the University became a Land for Wildlife member with the Sunshine Coast Council to further commit to managing a large proportion of the site as habitat for native plants and animals. The membership provides access to support, services and incentives to enhance conservation and restoration of the reserve such as free plants, invasive weed control tools or nest boxes each year.
Vale Gerard Mills (23/06/54 - 27/12/16)
After an illness fought with the same courage and fierce determination with which he approached all life’s challenges, Gerard Mills passed away just after Christmas.
A photographer, an artist, a teacher and a man with a purpose and passion, Gerard had set himself an immense but enjoyable task of photographing the vast diversity of wildlife on USC's Sippy Downs campus.
He viewed it as a ten year odyssey and had walked thousands of kilometres in every direction of USC's 100 hectare campus to, in his words, “find out what's there”. We often saw Gerard about campus with his trademark brown hat and his imposing camera slung about his shoulder, or, later, pushed in a trolley so he could continue his work in spite of his illness.
Three years into his mission, Gerard had taken more than 30,000 photographs of USC's wild creatures and their activities on campus. Gerard was geo-tagging each photograph to precisely locate where a creature was and when. He worked closely with USC Animal Ecology scientists, Scott Burnett and David Schoeman, to scientifically identify the different animals and their species.
Gerard’s legacy will continue to be showcased on this website and we hope others will take up his cause to help USC record the extraordinary diversity of campus wildlife, their habitats, behaviours, numbers, interactions and other important environmental dynamics.
The potential of Gerard’s work to contribute to the future knowledge and protection of campus wildlife will be far reaching.
He will be greatly missed, and long remembered.
Wildlife feature - Winter on campus at Sippy Downs
Winter coverings, downtime and rest for many campus creatures
Winter on campus is a time of chilly early morning mists and mostly clear sunny days. Many of our creatures are sticking closer to the nest, seeking out sun-filled corners for warmer hunting grounds or for washing and preening themselves. Others, like the reptiles and many other species, are slowing down their activities with the later sun rise, colder temperatures and shorter days.
A man for all seasons, our intrepid photographer, Gerard Mills, has been photographing the diversity of our campus wildlife. Here are some of Gerard's wintertime observations:
The insects, although always abounding on campus, seem to go to ground and are harder to find in the winter months.
With food supplies less abundant, the Redbrowed Finch (above) moves from the seeding grass south of the lake to feed in smaller numbers in winter in the trees south of the lakes, either side of the middle between the two lakes.
Another seed-eater, a cockatoo-like bird, the Little Corella, can't sit still for long, but busies itself in closer to the university buildings in August.
The Striated Pardalotes (above) nest in the creek banks near the multi-tier car park in early June. The raptors - the Sea Eagles, Ospreys and Spotted Harrier – are all still regulars although facing more competition for food in winter from visiting shoreline migratory birds.
All the regular members of the campus family, the prolific Purple Swamp Hens (above), the Brown's Honeyeaters and the Ibis (below) remain widespread, maintaining their everyday routines.
The biggest nuisance bird on campus, the Common Myna (below), raids the living quarters of some of our marsupial tree dwellers, stealing their abodes to nest and are quite aggressive about it.
After a two year mission, Gerard finally managed to capture the elusive Squirrel Glider (below) on campus in May 2016 and updated his species count since he began photographing on campus almost 4 years ago.
Gerard has recorded 202 species of insects, 112 species of birds, 70 species of spiders, 10 species of reptiles, 10 species of mammals and 5 species of amphibians.
Lorikeets in nest box
Lorikeets in nest box taken at 2 second intervals on 21 June 2016
Campus nesting boxes
What's with all the nesting boxes you're seeing at USC?
Possum with baby
Taken from 2 second interval stills over the entire afternoon from 1.35pm to 6.38pm
Bandicoots on campus
Bandicoots photographed at dusk on campus
Dr Scott Burnett
"It has great value for students...especially in Animal Ecology courses" Dr Scott Burnett
Dr David Schoeman
"His attention to detail will help students to see the environment for what it is" Dr David Shoeman