It has been a dream come true to spend the last two weeks helping with the spring fauna survey at Bush Heritage’s Edgbaston reserve.
I’m resting in the shade of the old, tin shearing shed, like the roos under the trees nearby, with some gusty afternoon breezes keeping it balmy, the sun beating down outside and a 360 degree view of vast open land. How lucky am I?!
Most of my field work over the last few years has been on the wet, windy, and VERY cold, offshore islands of Tasmania, so it was a shock to the system to be roasting in the dry, dusty heat of the outback.
But I’m a Queensland girl at heart and this is some of my favourite country on the planet!
The company was as delightful as the landscape. It was a pleasure to meet and work with enthusiastic Maddie who has studied the endangered fish of Edgbaston for the last year. And to see the famous Pippa Kern in action, 4wd-driving over seemingly impassable clay pans, fixing broken pumps, and wrangling desert herps and mammals. And not least, spend time and learn from my good friend Gab and her boundless knowledge of this landscape and flora! I was so inspired and impressed by this dream team of practical, skilled ecologists.
And boy did we get the job done! Over eight busy nights of trapping, spotlighting and vegetation surveying (special mention to the hardworking and lovable birdlife volunteers, Kath, Dave, Bill and Pippy who recorded hundreds of birds on the property and also Reserve Manager Rowan who came out to experience the magic for a few days) we were able to observe ecosystems in action.
Every day our traps were full of geckoes, skinks, frogs, snakes, spiders, centipedes, ants, and sometimes, a dunnart or desert mouse!
Our species list was huge – 43 species were recorded! Some notable observations included the gorgeous Velvet Geckoes (Oedura cincta), big chunky Gehyra dubia, and some other special gecko species: Rhychoedura mentalis, Diplodactylus platyurus and D. tessellutus, Lucasium steindachneri and Strophurus williamsi and of course cute little Heteronotia binoei.
We also saw two species of planigale and some cool burrowing frogs Cyclorana sp. and six species of snake – King Brown/Mulga Snake, Eastern Brown Snake, Orange-naped snake, Mud Adder, Night Tiger and Curl Snake.
One big highlight for me was getting to experience the ridgy didge Edgy day spa and salon, where we made use of the (potentially heritage listed?) shears (for one ceremonial blunt cut) to cut off my long golden locks!
The Edgy spa treatment also included a claypan-activated face mask, a deluxe pedicure in the Big Spring with Gambusia tending to my tired feet, a plunge pool for a picturesque dip and sunbake, and a blissful outdoor shower at sunset with Great Artesian Basin spring water (and coffee grounds exfoliation treatment) while watching the majestic Brolgas fly overhead.
I’m leaving Edgbaston a new woman!