The desert comes alive!

The pobblebonk frog is emerging on Neds Corner Station near Mildura following recent rains. Photo: D Paul, Museum Victoria

Here on Neds Corner Station in north-west Victoria, the desert country is awakening after recent rains — with an array of animals, plants and fungi emerging to take advantage of the conditions.

Fungi such as puffball mushrooms, that shrivel under the soil during dry conditions, pop up in response to rain, and pobblebonk frogs are emerging everywhere out of the mud.

We’re finding a stunning range of species on this 30,000 hectare property which is now managed as part of the National Reserve System by Trust for Nature. To date the Bush Blitz team has recorded more than 100 bird species, including the endangered great egret.

The fat-tailed dunnart inhabits the claypans of Neds Corner Station. Photo: D Paul, Museum Victoria

We’ve also found healthy populations of the fat-tailed dunnart, a tiny but ferocious marsupial that hunts across the desert claypans.

True to form, the desert country is yielding a plethora of reptiles including geckos such as the beautiful thick-tailed gecko,  skinks, bearded dragons, shingleback lizards, sand goannas as well as the threatened and highly venomous bardick snake.

Giant huntsman spiders reaching 20 centimetres across, huge rasping crickets and more than 150 moth species are among the invertebrate haul.

And our botanists have already found 41 plant species that are listed as rare, vulnerable or endangered.

Tinder conch fungus that lives high on river red gums. Photo: M Norman, Museum Victoria

Another interesting find was the tinder conch fungi which lives high on river red gums and was used by Aboriginal people to carry slow-burning coals for lighting fires.

Tomorrow we’re holding an open day for neighours and local conservation groups and we plan to show them some of the amazing wildlife that inhabits this pocket of Victoria which includes saltbush plains, mallee forests, sand dunes and majestic river redgums and black box eucalypts that line the Murray River.

Mark Norman, Museum Victoria

Bush Blitz is a biodiversity partnership discovery program between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia, which aims to document the plants and animals across Australia’s National Reserve System.

Neds Corner Station is managed by the Trust for Nature, an independent not-for-profit organisation that purchases and permanently protects properties to conserve nature.

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