NACC BioBlitz 2018
Two weekends ago, 11 of us from Natural Area participated in the Northern Agricultural Catchments Councils (NACC) Bioblitz held at Gunnado Farm Walkaway (just south of Geraldton). The purpose of a Bioblitz is to identify as many species of flora, fauna, invertebrates and birds as possible in a 24 hour period to monitor the biodiversity of an area. For us it was a chance to make new friends, explore a new area and check out some of the amazing wildflowers that were on display.
Given the distance most of the group elected to drive up the night before and spent the night camping at Sandy Cape before heading to Walkway the next morning. Three of us took the long drive option and met up with the rest around lunchtime to set up our little camping area. Jessica and the team were quick to welcome us and gave the group (about 40 participants total) a welcome speech and information on what the next 24 hrs would hold and introduced the leaders before we all divided off for our first session. Most of the NAMS crew elected to go on a flora survey at Kangaroo Lookout with Josh. Over the next 2 hours we identified over 120 species in the space of about 500m! Being on top of the lookout the views were also fantastic and we had amazing weather which made it even better.
For our second session many elected to join Joe who was using his extension pole with camera linked to an iPad or a handheld fibre optic camera to check out hollows and nests in trees for any bats or birds. Whilst we did startle a bird out of a hollow we unfortunately missed the photo so can’t confirm if it was, or wasn’t, an elusive Night Jar. They did find 3 chicks in a nest in the previous session but though we found many feral bees invading tree hollows we didn’t find any bats or other birds, but did have fun looking.
Back at camp Jessica and her helpers put on an amazing dinner with several home made curries, rice and vegetables before we headed out on a night walk with Joe. He had a thermal imaging camera which was wirelessly linked to an iPad allowing the group to see what he was looking at. We spotted several kangaroos and watched him play several sounds to try to attract an owl or any foxes nearby. Unfortunately they were all to wary to come and say hello, but we did make some kangaroos stand up and pay attention when we switched the recorder onto the sound of some lions! Back at base we toasted marshmallows around the fire or sat and talked before turning in ready to start day 2.
Up at 6am we went out for a dawn bird walk with Janet from DBCA Geraldton. Along with the usual suspects of Galahs, Magpies and Ravens we did see a Nankeen Kestral, Yellow Rump Thornbills and Black Faced Cuckoo Shrikes. After a hearty cooked breakfast we went out on another session with most of the group heading out to check the Elliott and pit fall traps which had been set the previous day. I headed out with Joe checking out more hollows but again we came up empty as many of the natural hollows had been taken over by the bees. The Elliott traps had also come up empty but the camera traps did record a White Faced Herron feeding around the pond.
Given our location and length of drive home, we were due to complete a fourth session but we begged forgiveness from Jess and the group, and departed early hoping to catch the wildflowers at Coal Seam National Park. On the way we called into Ellendale Pool a natural waterhole surrounded by rocky cliffs and a beautiful camping spot. With no time to swim, we headed back on the road for Coal Seam. The wildflowers along the roadway were spectacular as we drove by and Coal Seam was also worth the detour. Whilst the pink everlastings were bit passed their flowering peak the yellow everlastings were amazing with carpets of flowers in all directions. There were also 2 different species of Waitzias, Dampieras, Spyridiums and a whole range of species I couldn’t identify!
Arriving home close to 7pm it had been a long weekend but a very enjoyable one and I’m sure there will be a few keen to go again next year! Thanks again to the NACC team and to Luke for letting us use the work cars over the weekend.
– Bree Howard