The immediate surrounds of Glen Helen Homestead Lodge abound with bird, reptile, fish and plant life, with a good opportunity to spot Black Flanked Rock Wallabies and Dingoes.
It is possible to observe the natural balance of life operating around us at Glen Helen, as we see the food chain operating from tiny insects to birds of prey.
The Finke river is home to 12 species of fascinating native fresh water fish, including the Desert Rainbow fish, Spangled and Striped Grunter and Bony Bream. For centuries Aboriginal Australians have fished in these waters , and relied on them as the waterholes are permanent. The fish are protected species now of course, but Aboriginals are still permitted to fish using traditional methods.
Where there is an abundance of fish, there will be birds, and hundreds of birds in large flocks can often be seen feasting on the fish, which are far more numerous in the few years following flooding rains. Cormorants are common, including Black and Pied, and Little Black and Little Pied. Intermediate and great Egrets are often seen, as well as Rufous Night Herons, White necked and White Faced Herons and Darters.
Many small waterbirds abound also including various ducks, and waders such as Inland Dotterels and Purple Swamp Hens, Coots, Native hens, and various Crakes and Rails.
The insect life of our region is astonishing, and literally hundreds of species are found at different times of year, sometimes in extraordinary numbers-Grasshoppers, moths, cicadas, beetles of numerous kinds frequently hatch and arrive to determinedly try to enter all the buildings at times!!
When rain is around many frogs appear, seemingly out of nowhere, as they have amazing strategies to live suspended in the mud until it rains, then pop up ready to mate and lay eggs within hours of soaking rain. Their calls are amazing and varied.
There are many lizard and snake species found in our area, most are not found at all in the cooler months, and appear as soon as the weather warms up. Geckos, Skinks, Dragons and Monitors, legless lizards, Pythons and brown snakes and a large number of small species can be found and care needs to be taken at night when they are active in the warm months
The Plants of this region are incredibly diverse, with amazing adaptations to tolerate the often very harsh conditions in this arid region. Many species have very deep roots to access underground water below, and some seem dead until rain and then they spring to life. After years of drought a big rain can bring on a profusion of flowers, but this is by no means an annual phenomenon. Some years the grasses out-compete the flower plants. Many woody plants have spectacular flowers pollinated by local birds and insects, which can be very short lived.
The Aboriginal Custodians of this region have lived as an integral part of the ecosystem, understanding seasons and knowing where to find edible plants, and animal foods when most Europeans would miss them altogether. We have a lot to learn from these amazingly adapted tribal people, many of whose traditional knowledge is in danger of disappearing.
Colin and Shelagh are passionate about the natural environment, and will offer any assistance they can to visitors trying to appreciate and understand the local fauna and flora.