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)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Images of Koolan

One of the most beautiful and interesting places in WA to do a fauna survey is Koolan Island. I've just returned from a ten day fauna survey during the top end's wet season and wow was it hot and humid. You could not spend ten minutes doing work outside without being totally soaked in sweat.

Due to a very big low pressure system in Northern Territory there were huge thunderstorms over the island every day, during the first five days. One day the island received just under 2 inches of rain in one hour! Not very good when you have pit trap buckets in the ground, many just popped out or started to fill up.  It was interesting to see many reptile species just sitting together without fighting on the refuge rocks and sticks we placed in the buckets.

The flight to Koolan Island is on a small plane from Derby, mostly flying over vast areas of mudflats and mangroves before reaching the islands and ocean.

The wet season in the north turns every thing green and is the best time for wildlife, if you can handle the high humidity due to all the water everywhere.

There are a number of active mining pits on the island. This is one of the old flooded ones from previous years that may be restarted, as the big vein of iron-ore runs along the island through here.

Huge 200+ ton trucks run day and night, but they are stopped during heavy wet season rains when the mine roads turn into bogs. A standard family car would not come half way up one of the tyres on these monsters! There have been a couple of accidents in the mining industry, where huge trucks like these ran over and crushed flat a 4WD (parked in the wrong area) and didn't even notice.

The accomodation on Koolan has more of a resort feel than a mining site. The views from most of the rooms are wonderful.

A view of the survey site. As you can see there's not much flat ground for trap sites and look at all the rock, a hard slog to get pit buckets in, if you can get any in! The soil is usually full of large rocks with most of the plants sending their roots in between. The most commonly caught reptile in these areas was the rock skink ( Ctenotus inornatus). See Koolan Island post October 2009

It was a hard time of year, but I look forward to going back sometime for another survey and maybe I'll bring my fishing rod. I hear there's some great fishing in these wonderful waters, as long as you look out for the sharks and crocs!


Julie said...

Richard, I like the shots of the mud-flat from the plane out of Derby. You tread places where I would be useless. Must be such a great feeling.

Richard King said...

I'm glad I was in a plane Julie, the sandflies and mosquitoes (including crocs)down there are monsters!

Tony wright said...

I worked on this island in 1980, it was a time I will always
remember,we used to get northern quolls (marsupial)
coming to the sheds at night looking for food,quite tame.
wildlife was prolific and varied,a pleasure to work there.

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