Hamelin bio-blitzing – DAY 2 – Cooking with gas

on 18 Oct 2016 

Mornings are best experienced with a nice, fresh shower. Albeit, these ones were fresher than expected. An easy fix, if you follow the well-placed door sign that reads “Tell your friendly Station Stay Manager and they’ll turn the nozzle to on”. But, like all other bodies already lurking within respective cubicles, we persisted. It is WA after all, and the day was forecast as toasty

Later that morning we heard the clanks and bangs of half a dozen gas cylinders being loaded into the back of Tony’s ute. Tony Loechte is Hamelin Station Reserve’s Field Officer, who lives on-site with his wife Larissa and their young family.

Tony loads the empty gas cylinders into the back of his ute with the assistance of David – one of the Stay’s part-timers who’s helping out for the season. This event was pure coincidence to us having cold showers, as we learned the icy truth – full ones were already parked outside the shower block and gearing to go.

Reluctant to dwell on our own mishaps, fingers are pointed to the tyres on Tony’s ute which are looking a bit distressed from the load. Turns out though, he’s got a system. Tony keeps the tyres slightly under-inflated to keep them from popping while travelling across the rocky tracks around Hamelin. There are some bumps sharp enough to catch the air between seat and derriere, so good thinking Tony.

Before long Tony’s off to GPS the bore water sites around the reserve. His replacement hosts are Bush Heritage’s ecologist Ben Parkhurst and his wife Tina, a PhD student in revegetation.

Ben’s brought with him a Smooth Knob-tailed Gecko (Nephrurus levis) and a heavily pregnant Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) – who has possibly one or two eggs inside her rotund middle. The science-bods caught the pair in the morning pitfall traps that have been set up for the bio-blitz.

Ben describes how Thorny Devils are well adapted for arid environments; their spikes and the super fine grooves on their skin allow them to collect water from spinifex in the dewy mornings, where it will then soak up and drift towards mouths. The gecko, meanwhile, is a photographer’s dream.

Point your lens the right way, and the thin lines around their mouths look uncannily like they’re grinning at you. They may not have garnered as much attention as Australia’s Quokkas, but herpetologists are still pretty rapt with them. After all, they're a charming nocturnal species.