Week 2 of the Bush Blitz at Neds Corner Station:
The day starts early here on Neds Corner Station with the vertebrate team off at 7 am to check traps for small mamals and reptiles before the heat of the day sets in.
We pull one tiny skink from the pitfall traps — a series of plastic buckets that are buried to their rims in the hard desert ground. Skinks are common in this country, their small, slim bodies being well-suited to slipping into cracks in the dry desert earth to escape temperature extremes.
The aluminium elliott traps yield only house mice, which unfortunately are also common out here. The traps are reset and its back to the homestead to join property owners Trust for Nature and local conservation organisations for an open day to showcase the station’s amazing diversity of wildlife.
Bearded dragons, legless and shingleback lizards as well as geckos and a smorgasbord of plants and fungi are on display and the visitors get the chance to peer down microscopes at spectacular specimens of wolf and ant spiders — the latter which mimc ants, living with them as well as feeding on their house mates!
Its back out in the field once the heat of the day dissipates to recheck the small animal traps and to do some plant collecting. Val Stajsic from Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens is excited about finding an endangered plant, swainsona greyana.
Birdo Wayne Longmore from Museum Victoria has added another four species to the list of 107 birds that he has recorded on Neds Corner Station during the past eight days, about 50 per cent of the known bird records for the property. The 30,000 hectare property is something of hotspot for birds — the range of species reflecting the diversity of habitat types found here, from river red gum and blackbox flooplains, to lignum and chenopod shrublands and semi-arid woodlands.
Bush Blitz is a biodiversity 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 for conservation as part of the National Reserve System by Trust for Nature.