This fortnight Reserve Manager Paul Hales is making the most of mild conditions and an extra pair of hands (Dr Steve Murphy) to conduct edge burning at Yourka Reserve in far north Queensland.
Burning along the property boundary and internal roads is an important part of the fire management program which strengthens breaks and insures against devastating, broad scale wildfires or escaped control burns during the scheduled mosaic burning later in the year.
Edge burns are lit early afternoon and allowed to creep in toward the centre of a fire block during the heat of the day. Staff continue to patrol these edges until the evening cools, dew sets in and the fire peters out.
The night fire-line patrols provide the perfect opportunity to spotlight for both native and feral species. Freshly burnt country draws predators such as cats, dingoes and owls and reserve staff don't miss the chance for opportunistic feral animal control or additions to the species list.
Last night's list was a long one:
- 3 Owlet Nightjars
- 13 Tawny Frogmouths
- 1 Dingo
- 1 Masked Owl
- 2 Brushtail Possums, one with a baby on it's back
- 4 Greater Gliders
- 1 Squirrel Glider
- 1 Boobook Owl
- 1 White-throated Nightjar, and
- No cats
Paul and Steve were especially pleased to see the Brushtail Possums as this relatively common species is thought to be in decline in the higher altitude woodlands. The Masked Owl sighting was also significant as the species had only previously been heard on the property, not seen.