We're not talking about surveying for a huge Platypus, but about the huge effort Bush Heritage volunteers and Scottsdale Reserve Manager Phil Palmer have put in to support the Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch’s Platypus surveys this year!
Scottsdale Reserve has been a Waterwatch Platypus survey site for 3 years, but in previous years it was only surveyed once per season. This year the site was surveyed 6 times – morning and evening over three consecutive days by a dedicated team of up to 12 volunteers on each survey.
This, by the way, was no mean feat in the cold August mornings and early evenings of the Monaro!
Volunteers were richly rewarded though. There were plenty of Platypus about and the river turned out perfectly still conditions, making spotting and observing the frolicking Platypus a treat.
Not to be outdone, a Water Rat was also observed, swimming along close to the river bank, quite unperturbed by volunteers at their survey stations.
The Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch Platypus survey program utilises the group survey method developed by the Australian Platypus Conservancy. By repeating the surveys each year, trends across years can be compared. Platypus numbers are directly related to water quality and availability of food and habitat resources.
This year’s Scottsdale survey supports anecdotal reports that there seems to have been an increase in platypus numbers in the Murrumbidgee in recent years. Compared to the previous years, this year's survey recorded twice as many Platypus as previous years. The fact that the surveys were repeated several times this year also means the reliability of the data is increased.