After months of planning, selecting a variety of vegetation habitats, and preparing the survey sites, the Fauna Survey got underway. The traps were set and baited. Each of the eight sites featured five double-pitfall trap lines, five Elliott traps, and two small cage traps (total 136 traps). Each morning for 4 days, all survey sites were checked by two teams, led by Ecologist Sandra Gilfillan and her assistant Kirsty Vogel. Captured animals were identified, weighed, measured, and then released. Animal welfare was a high priority throughout this process: all traps were checked in the early morning, (5:30 start!), the pitfall traps (in-ground buckets) had drain holes in the bottom and suspended lids above, animals caught in the Elliott and cage traps were protected from rain and direct sunshine.
So what did we find? Skinks. Lots of skinks, a wide variety. Other reptiles included a legless lizard and a western crowned snake. The mammals were represented by Bush Rats, caught in several locations, and the tiny, adorable Honey Possum, whose widespread presence was a surprise. One female was carrying 2 babies in the pouch! When we recovered them from the buckets each morning, they had gone into a state of Torpor to conserve energy. They soon woke after gentle handling and then received a quick feed of diluted honey (they lap it up with a long tongue). When released they disappeared in a blink of an eye!
A full report will be published soon. Thanks to the many volunteers, for all the work in the initial setup, the site “rehabs” a week before the survey, the early starts and bush-bashing of the actual counts, “decommissioning” the sites to be used again, and dismantling the sites to be abandoned, restoring them to their undisturbed condition. And Thanks to Sandra and Kirsty, who guided us through every step, and somehow managed to bring the sun with them on every visit to the Nullaki.
Nullaki Conservation Group