Two thirds of the way through my first Bush Blitz and I can thoroughly recommend the experience.
Helping the scientists to collect, identify and voucher as many specimens as possible is incredible. The standout for me so far is running the camp at Wingan Inlet with Andrea from Earthwatch. We set out on Thursday from Mallacoota, fully loaded trailer in tow, hoping to find some reptiles, frogs, moths, fish and flora to add to the records for Victoria.
The first night David and Ken from the Victorian Entomologist Society set up their moth cloth and mercury lamp close to camp. Watching them in action with their cameras at the ready, pouncing on moths as they landed made it very hard to not be swept up by their enthusiasm. I even agreed to purchase the first volume of Moths of Victoria. One moth I’ll never forget was a rather understated individual with light brown wings that each contained small green spots. When I wandered around the back of the sheet I was thrilled to find the green spots were transparent! David and Ken seemed to be equally impressed and speculated it could be a new species for Victoria. We’ll have to wait and see.
Friday morning with breakfast over I joined the Herpetological team at Lake Elusive. Jeremy from Parks Victoria and Geoff from the University of Melbourne guided us in the art of finding reptiles and spiders. We collected a rocky-river frog (Litoria lesueuri), some vibrant yellow-bellied water skinks (Eulamprus heatwolei) and a somewhat docile funnel web spider (Hadronyche sp.). There was also an enchantingly patterned mainland tiger snake (Notechis scrutatus) whose alternating light and dark brown bands were mesmerising.
After lunch a brazen tree goanna (Varanus varius) wandered into camp. I jumped at the chance to help Jeremy, Geoff and Di Bray from Museum Victoria to measure the welcome intruder and collect a tail tip for genetic analysis.
Thanks to Ali from Parks Victoria I secured a leave pass to join some scientists and the BHP crew for a walk on the beach. After almost a week of wearing hiking boots it was sheer bliss to walk in the sand and the waves. The beach gave a unique vantage point to watch the local seal colony do their thing while we lamented our inability to swim thanks to the white sharks using the colony as a snack bar.
That night, after a delicious beef and red wine stew* we returned to the Rapids Walking Track where we had caught the tiger snake earlier in the day. We found an encouraging number of tiny Leaf Green Tree Frogs (Litoria phyllochroa). They were a vibrant green with dual gold and brown stripes running down both sides of their lithe little bodies. They were fairly content for us to get up close and watch them watch us. No wonder the tiger snake set up home here.
The wonderful Wingan Inlet crew all mucked in on Saturday morning to pack up camp and we were on the road back to Mallacoota before lunch. A big thanks to you all for helping me understand what I was looking at and for so generously sharing your wealth of knowledge.
Thanks also to Kate and Bruce for the abundant supplies and especially the packet of ground coffee!
*We only reheated the delicious meals – a big thanks to Robbie and Paul for keeping us so well fed from afar!