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Lots of life in the Eurardy surveys

Richard McLellan (volunteer)
Published 22 Sep 2017 by Richard McLellan (volunteer)

Never one to let a chance go by (well, not if I can help it), I recently took a few days of annual leave from my ‘day job’ to volunteer for this year’s Ecological Outcomes Monitoring surveys on Eurardy Reserve.

In a ‘normal’ year, this would have meant I had to ‘endure’ five days surrounded by a rainbow-coloured smorgasbord of some of the most spectacular wildflowers on the planet.

But this hasn’t been the best of years for wildflowers, thanks largely to a prolonged, landscape-parching, dry spell this ‘winter’.

The usual annual explosion of everlastings and other wildflowers simply didn’t happen, and even most of the hardy heathland shrubs conserved their energy (and their limited moisture), and sensibly decided not to burst-forth with their usual spectacular flowering extravaganza.

But heck. That didn’t dent our enthusiasm. I joined the small survey team – comprising Ben Parkhurst (Eurardy Reserve Manager and Western Rangelands Ecologist), Elisabeth McLellan (Western Rangelands Landscapes Manager), Vanessa Westcott (Ecologist West), and fellow volunteers John Adams and Andréa Bride – for five days of field-work.

Venturing to every corner of the 30,000 hectare reserve, we added new data to Eurardy’s long-term monitoring dataset – gathering and recording valuable information about the flora, the condition of the vegetation and surface soil cover, and bird assemblages.

The data – which is collected every three years – goes into the reserve’s five-year report, and helps with future conservation planning.

For five straight days we were up before dawn, with Ben and Elisabeth heading-off first for the bird surveys, while Vanessa and we three volunteers followed-up for the vegetation transects. Between us, we completed the target list of 30 transects, amassing a heap of data that the ecologists will now take back to the office for further analysis to see how life is changing at Eurardy after 12 years of Bush Heritage management.

Despite the harsh season, there were still lots of plants in flower, lots of birds in song in the mornings, and lots of other wildlife to get us excited. As well as the usual kangaroos and emus, we were delighted by regular flocks of Red-tailed Black-cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii), as well as a Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus), Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides), Giant Jewel Beetles (Temognatha heros), Trapdoor Spider (Anidiops spp.) and a Priority Two listed species in a new location - Alcock's Duck Orchid (Paracaleana alcockii). 

And we had a lot of fun!

Note to self: Book a place on the survey team for the next round of Ecological Outcomes Monitoring at Eurardy Reserve.

– Richard McLellan

​Richard is a passionate Bush Heritage Volunteer, and the CEO of NACC (Northern Agricultural Catchments Council of WA). ​ You can follow Richard on twitter: @RichardMcLellan 

The monitoring dream team: The monitoring dream team:
Richard McLellan, Ben Parkhurst, Elisabeth McLellan, Vanessa Westcott and John Adams at Eurardy Reserve.
The Eurardy Reserve front gate. The Eurardy Reserve front gate.
Richard & Vanessa on a vegetation on a transect line. Richard & Vanessa on a vegetation on a transect line.
Seringia (formerly Keraudrenia) integrifolia Seringia (formerly Keraudrenia) integrifolia
Thorny Devil Thorny Devil
Grevillea eriostachya Grevillea eriostachya
Wreath leschenaultia (Leschenaultia macrantha) in sandplain country. Wreath leschenaultia (Leschenaultia macrantha) in sandplain country.
Vanessa checking out an old Malleefowl mound on Eurardy Reserve. Vanessa checking out an old Malleefowl mound on Eurardy Reserve.
Skink Skink
Richard & John on a vegetation on a transect line. Richard & John on a vegetation on a transect line.
Pink poker (Grevillea petrophiloides). Pink poker (Grevillea petrophiloides).
Grevillea Grevillea
There's the blue tongue - Bobtail Lizard, aka Blue-tongued Skink. There's the blue tongue - Bobtail Lizard, aka Blue-tongued Skink.
Clawflower (Calothamnus sp.). Clawflower (Calothamnus sp.).
Thorny Devil Thorny Devil

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