Eurardy – an ecological blitz

Tuesday 20 June, 2006

Staff ecologist Sandy Gilmore describes the work done at Eurardy in September 2005.

A profusion of yellow daisies and blue pincushion Brunonia australis. Photo Julian Fennessy.A profusion of yellow daisies and blue pincushion Brunonia australis. Photo Julian Fennessy.

In late September 2005 the Bush Heritage ecology team headed to the newly acquired Eurardy Reserve, north of Kalbarri National Park,WA. The aim was to conduct an ecological inventory or ‘blitz’ of the wildlife and plants, as well as the property’s infrastructure, as a basis for developing the reserve’s management plan.

The timing was excellent. Spring was the ideal time for recording the plants, as most were flowering, and the birds were breeding. Twenty-seven monitoring sites were established across the reserve and at each the vegetation structure was recorded. This data will provide the basis on which to build a long-term picture of the changes to the reserve under Bush Heritage management.

Goldfield’s bullfrog. Photo Jiri Lochman / Lochman Transparencies.Goldfield’s bullfrog. Photo Jiri Lochman / Lochman Transparencies.

The earlier work of volunteers from the Wildflower Society of WA, in creating a detailed field herbarium and plant lists from each monitoring point, made our job so much easier. We hope that this collaboration will continue.

Bird counts began at all the sites. Over time the counts will enable us to watch for trends in how the numbers and occurrences of birds change, both within and between our Western Australian reserves. The heathlands and shrublands were full of honeyeaters, including, significantly, pied and black honeyeaters that haven't been recorded at the other Bush Heritage reserves.

A drift net guides small animals into a trap so they can be identified. Photo Julian Fennessy.A drift net guides small animals into a trap so they can be identified. Photo Julian Fennessy.

We were also delighted to see the beautiful tawny-crowned honeyeater; Eurardy is at the limit of its range.

The extensive patches of threatened york gum woodland proved to have the greatest number of bird species of any site. We conducted only a small amount of mammal and pitfall trapping but we recorded two ashy-grey mice, one spotted dragon and a variety of invertebrates.

Several other species were recorded during our travels around the reserve and their location recorded by geographic positioning system (GPS).These included Stimson's python, sand goannas, several species of birds of prey and larger mammals, both native and introduced.

The information gathered during our ecological blitz, coupled with an analysis of species’ distribution, soils, terrain, vegetation and ecosystem processes, will help us to understand why species occur where they do and how we can help them to thrive.

As our understanding of the reserve develops over the years, our management techniques will adapt to help build the resilience of the land for the long term.

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