Hamelin bio-blitzing – DAY 5 – Farewell new critters

on 21 Oct 2016 
Corin Desmond (recent conservation graduate at Geraldton TAFE) identifying critters.

The bio-blitz team sit around the Station Stay’s dining table, one that shearers used for many years before. For now, it’s more of a scientist’s work bench, where ecologist Ben Parkhurst rests his elbow while a burrowing snake, wrapped thinly around his fingers, softly slithers about. Red balls of dirt fall from its pearly skin with every slow twist it takes.

Ben and the team have just arrived back from another sunrise pitfall check, and Ben’s more than a little stoked to have found a Cyclodomorphus Blue tongue. They’ve also brought with them two Southern Pygmy Spiny-tailed Skinks (Egernia depressa) and a Little Long-tailed Dunnart (Sminthopsis dolichura).

Cataloguing the finds back out of the heat, it’s here that weighty reptile books are opened to determine exactly what dot, stripe and rounded squares mean for our critters. Especially helpful when identifying the Hamelin Skink (Ctenotus zastictus), a nationally vulnerable species that’s only found on Hamelin Station Reserve. 

Creeping up closer to the collection, Brad Maryan (Vice President of the WA Society of Amateur Herpetologists and Technical Officer at WA Museum) peers at a Legless Lizard. But how does one even tell the difference between lizard and snake, when it looks remarkably similar to the earlier burrower? Well, a good indicator are their ear-dents. The little fellow is added to the inventory of species that has slowly been growing over the past week, creating the baseline data for Bush Heritage to be able to manage against threats on the reserve; such as feral cats, foxes and fires.

As we leave behind the tranquillity of Hamelin Station Reserve’s bird song, and the peaceful lapping of water against the Stromatolites down at Shark Bay’s Hamelin Pool, we also leave with a reinforced confidence that the best heads and hands are on the job.

The field work component of the bio-blitz may be well and truly over, but processing all the finds and data from the blitz is only just beginning for this lot – so stay tuned loyal Bushies, for the next update on Hamelin Station Reserve.

Thank you for tagging along this far with your tag-along reporter. And big thanks to the wondiferous staff out on reserve; to their blitzing team from WA Museum, Geraldton TAFE and numerous Honours, PhD and recent graduates who joined in during the week. Your knowledge and enthusiasm for your speciality is unwavering and just gosh-darn inspiring.

Corin Desmond (recent conservation graduate at Geraldton TAFE) identifying critters.