I’m one of five BHP Billiton environmental staff who exchanged desks for a few days in the field with a team of Bush Blitz scientists — and the change of scenery was nothing less than stunning at Credo Station in Western Australia’s goldfields.
On my first day out I accompanied Remko Leijs, a scientist from the South Australian Museum who specialises in native bees and stygofauna — small animals that live in groundwater.
I honed my reflexes while trying to catch native solitary bees that hovered around flowering trees and bushes searching for pollen, nectar and potential mates. The day’s efforts proved fruitful with at least 15 different species of bees identified. Unfortunately we were unable to locate any bores or wells that yielded stygofauna — the groundwater being too deep and brackish.
The second day I was up early to help two vertebrate specialists — Mark Cowan from the Department of Environment and Conservation and Tom Parkin from the Western Australian Museum — check on mammal and reptile traps that had been set the previous evening. These traps, including pitfalls, funnels and Elliot traps, are checked early to ensure no animal is left for long in the heat of the day. While we didn’t catch any mammals, we did get a range of snakes and lizards, including dragons, geckos and skinks that were important finds in understanding the reserves environmental values, species distribution and genetic diversity.
On the third day I joined botanists Margaret Langley and Neil Gibson from the Department of Environment and Conservation to collect and identify a range of semi-arid plants. A survey conducted about five years ago identified about 200 species of plants on Credo Station. Within just a few hours we had added significantly to this list.
Conrad Levy, BHP Billiton