Bush blitzing for creatures that glow in the dark

My first catch during the Credo Station Bush Blitz - a shingle-back lizard!

My first day ‘blitzing’ and I joined botanists Neil Gibson and Margaret Langley and fungi expert Katie Syme from the WA Department of Environment and Conservation to discover Credo’s flora.

We started our day at small pond in the midst of a granite outcrop where the perennial herb Wurmbea murchisoniana was out in a profusion of flowers — blanketing the  surrounding deep red soils in white. We collected about 60 plant species around the pond, and we could have collected many more if we had the time.

Travelling to the next site we spotted a perentie lizard, the first time the species had been recorded in this area. This is the largest monitor lizard or goanna found in Australia and can grow up to 2.5 metres in length. It can also run very fast!

After nightfall, I accompanied entomologist Mark Harvey from the Western Australian museum and several others to search for scorpions. These nocturnal creatures glow in the dark under fluorescent light, so using Mark’s UV light, we were able to spot several scorpions.

Mollusc expert Corey Whisson from the Western Australian Museum hunting for land snails near Rowles Lagoon at Credo Station.

I began my second day out in the company of mollusc expert Corey Whisson (Western Australian Museum) at Rowles Lagoon where we slogged through deep mud looking for aquatic snails. While we didn’t find any snails we were able to observe several waterfowl, including the Australian shelduck. Our search for land snails was somewhat more successful and we found the shells of several species, including a micro snail which Corey says is likely to be a new species.

Day 3 was a race against the rain. I was working with entomologist Nadine Guthrie from the WA Museum in a search for beetles and found several species. We also collected several fungi specimens and a couple legless lizards to provide to other Bush Blitz scientists.

When the rain started coming down hard we made a quick getaway to base camp to avoid getting bogged on the slick clay roads.

Steve Perkins, BHP Billiton