Conserving Koala Country

Conserving Koala Country

Saturday, 19 May 2012

A quick update

I'm writing this while waiting for dataloggers to download.... it is a veeeerrrrrry slow process.

Since returning from the April Earthwatch trip, I've been waiting for the 'perfect' day to head back down to Cape Otway to catch our koalas for GPS and accelerometer removal.  There was also the task of replacing Ruby's non-functioning collar.  For me, 'perfect' = no lecturing + no rain + availability of a helper (preferably one who has caught koalas before).  That day finally came yesterday.  I left home at 5:30am, collected friend and pro koala-catcher Vic Dixon, and arrived at Bimbi Park by 9:30am. 

Ruby was easily spotted in her usual tree and caught within about 5 minutes.  Her pouch 'bulge' is now really noticeable so we were careful to hold her gently for collar removal and refitting.  Her collar definitely does not work so will be going back to Sirtrack for evaluation.

Buffy was next.  She was low enough for a ground catch but immediately started moving (like she always does!).  This time we were prepared though and had her quickly noosed and in the bag.

Erik lived up to his reputation and fought his way through the catch and grumbled while in the bag. 

Then came Nelly... this time we left Georgie in the tree and just caught Nelly.  They were soon reunited.  Georgie thought this was a much better idea!

Wally and Bruce were in neighbouring trees and only a few metres off the ground so they were super quick catches. 

By this time it was just after 1pm so we'd been motoring along and feeling quite pleased with ourselves.  Catching is so much faster when climbing isn't involved.  But Kevin was just out of reach of our flags (it looked like he'd been lusting after a young girl) and the other three (Tony Parker, Claire and Princess) were high in the tree tops.  We needed to leave by 2:30pm at the latest so we opted to catch Kevin.  By free-climbing to a low branch, we were finally able to reach him with a flag and convince him to leave the girl and come to us.  It was then over in a matter of seconds, his loggers were removed and he was set free to pursue his girl again.  We then set about the task of removing the 100s of ticks (yes, really!) that had found us during Kevin's catch.  I HATE ticks....

Princess is the only one that is still wearing an accelerometer so I will head back some time in the next few weeks to catch her, and maybe also Tony P and Claire to get their GPS loggers.

I'm now pleased to report that the loggers have done their job and there will be loads of data to analyse.  There is only one GPS (Bruce's) that is giving me some trouble due to moisture getting inside but the lights still come on so I think it will work again.

On other news, we have some baby manna gum from the seed we collected in April.  I'd nearly given up hope (it has been 2 weeks since planting):

These will eventually be planted out at Bimbi Park.

Also of possible interest, during our student field trip to Bimbi Park in November, a new species of spider was discovered:

Zephyrarchaea porchi Rix & Harvey, sp. n.
Otway Range Assassin Spider
Figs 8D, 18, 28
Type material. Holotype male: Bimbi Park, 2.2 km N. of Cape Otway Lighthouse, Victoria, Australia, 38°50'13"S, 143°30'55"E, dry pitfall trap, grassy edge of bracken rich dry sclerophyll forest, 2–5.XI.2011, N. Porch & Deakin University Wildlife Field Studies students (MV K11581).
Etymology. The specific epithet is a patronym in honour of Dr Nicholas Porch, for first discovering this species in the Otway Range.

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