Mel Sheppard and Steve Heggie, Reserve Managers at Reedy Creek Reserve in Queensland, are now on the job.
Loggerhead turtle. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.
October 2004 saw us begin the on-ground management work at the Bush Heritage Reedy Creek Reserve and the adjacent common lands of the ‘Sunrise at 1770’ housing development near Agnes Water on the Queensland central coast.
We were welcomed on our first day by a familiar face from our previous home in Kakadu National Park, a frill-necked lizard that we promptly added to the reserve’s species list.
Reedy Creek is a very different management proposition to that which we faced at the huge Bush Heritage Carnarvon Station Reserve and in Kakadu. We've gone from landscape-scale ‘macro’ management to hands-on ‘micro’ management of land for conservation.
Mel and Steve with the new sign. Photo Steve Heggie.
The relatively small size of the reserve means that we'll develop an intimate knowledge of its plants and animals. Many of the on-ground conservation issues at Reedy Creek are the same as those we faced in Carnarvon and Kakadu, but here there are a few more challenges thrown in.
Working with the state and local authorities and residents of the intensive housing development adjoining the land make for an exciting work environment both inside and outside the reserve.
Our work so far has largely involved working to blend Bush Heritage and ourselves into the local community and creating an awareness of the organisation’s objectives.
Sunrise beach. Photo Carl Moller.
The turtle nest monitoring has been a real management highlight. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service volunteers have, for a number of years, been carrying out turtle monitoring along the beaches that abut the common lands managed by the reserve. We've worked alongside the local team leader in the enjoyable early morning job of recording the night’s nesting events.
In the dark, green, flatback and loggerhead turtles have toiled up the beach to scrape holes in which they have laid their eggs. Their characteristic tracks identify which species have visited in the night. By recording the locations of the nests of each species, the researchers can monitor the fate of the eggs and watch for the emergence of the young turtles 50 to 80 days later (depending on the species).
Pandanus wetland. Photo Carl Moller.
The foreshore and headlands that are managed by Bush Heritage go a long way to preserving the habitats essential for the long-term survival of these endangered turtles. As part of our work, we've collaborated with the local Landcare group to replant parts of the dunes to help prevent lights from the development from disturbing the nesting turtles.
The Reedy Creek fire plan is now ready to be implemented and we're looking forward to carrying out the first of the series of conservation burns planned for 2005. The aim of these burns is threefold:
- to begin the pattern of burning appropriate to the management of the various vegetation types,
- to protect the infrastructure of both the reserve and our neighbours, and
- to create firebreaks around those vegetation communities from which fire should still be excluded.
At the moment, opportunities to volunteer on the reserve are limited but, once we begin to undertake capital works, we'll be eagerly seeking volunteers to help us. We hope then to see you in the sun and warmth at Reedy Creek Reserve.
The land at Reedy Creek Reserve, at Agnes Water in coastal Queensland, was donated to Bush Heritage in 2003 by Michael and Dellarose Baevski. The common lands that form part of the adjacent housing development at ‘Sunrise at 1770’ are also being managed by Bush Heritage.