Eurardy – news from the field

Tuesday 20 March, 2007

Leanne and Paul Hales have just completed their first year as reserve managers at Eurardy Reserve.

Red-tailed black cockatoos in flowering Parakeelya. Photo Paul and Leanne Hales.Red-tailed black cockatoos in flowering Parakeelya. Photo Paul and Leanne Hales.

Spring has come and gone for another year and it's hard to believe that Paul and I have just clocked up our first 12 months at Eurardy Reserve in Western Australia. It feels like only yesterday that we pulled up that dusty red drive for the first time, agape at the vibrant wildflower displays for which Eurardy is renowned.

It was a daunting task to arrive at such a well-known wildflower destination in the middle of one of the most abundant flowering seasons on record, especially considering our new responsibilities as tour guides.

But before long ‘the red ones’ became Leschenaultia and Calothamnus, ‘the blue ones’ Dampiera and the pale pink ones … well they’re still anyone’s guess.

Leanne sorts native poplar seed for replanting. Photo Paul Hales.Red-tailed black cockatoos in flowering Parakeelya. Photo Paul and Leanne Hales.

In stark contrast to 2005 there was no winter rain to kick-start this latest wildflower season and in 2006 ‘the red ones’ flowered only in isolated pockets and ‘the blue ones’ didn’t show up at all! While this was a bit disappointing for the local wildflower enthusiasts and interstate and international tourists, it was quite fascinating from a land-management perspective.

During our first year at Eurardy we were lucky enough to witness how the landscape responded to unseasonal winter and summer rains, followed by an equally uncharacteristic dry spell. The changes in the timing of flowering, emergence of weeds and movements of animals, particularly the birds, were dramatic.

Without a doubt, the observations we've made in recent months will allow management decisions to be better informed in the future.

Now, as the mercury hits the midforties and the sun drains the colour from the landscape, we've come to appreciate how truly astounding the seasonal changes are in this arid environment. We're looking forward to the subtle and not-so-subtle changes that each new day brings.

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