And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fauna Survey

It will be interesting to see how the economic downturn will affect the amount of fauna and site surveys this year. Most of the surveys are for mining companies and developments, usually a government legal requirement to see what there, especially any protected or endangered species. Spring and autumn are usually my busy times, but this year, well we will see.

I love my work, so I hope things pick up. In my job you get to see so many wonderful places and fantastic animals, and you never know what you're going to see next.

A survey starts by picking trapping sites in different habitats of the area, usually trying to get as many vegetation types trapped as you can. Different vegetation types often mean different animals.

Some sites aren't fun, thick tangled vegetation and lots of roots. We normally put in pit traps which involved digging a deep hole for a 25 litre bucket. Not much fun in rock hard clay soil!! A single hole can take over 45 minutes to dig and you may need 10 at one site.

Here I am baiting an Elliot trap, a metal box great for catching small mammals and reptiles. I once had a small rabbit in one, must of been keen to get in!

You also have to be careful if it has a snake, sometimes it's hard to see what's in there. If the trap's heavy, then watch out!

A trapping site always has some funnel traps, such as the one I'm checking here. These are simple 'lobster pot' style traps that are excellent for catching reptiles.

Looks like I'm really concentrating here. Probably a tiny Menetia skink that's warmed up and running like crazy from one end of the trap to the other. A bit like catching a running matchstick! Sometimes you catch lots of different skinks in one funnel, trying to get them out can be fun!

I once had a Whip Snake, a beautiful but fast venomous little snake in a funnel that managed to get his body out one end while I was looking for him. We had a real eye to eye a few moments later. I got a good look at his beautiful face close up!

If you catch a big really venomous snake, it's best if you just open the zip on top and pop the trap on the ground and let him move out all by himself. Some guys get a bit annoyed from being in there and some individuals just seem to have a bad attitude anyway.

A couple of big cage traps usually go in at each site for good measure, just to catch those larger animals. Unfortunately, often due to predation by introduced cats and foxes, there are few big animals caught

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