Despite very hot weather over the past week post-burn systematic and targeted surveys were carried out at Boorabee and the Willows IPA. Due to recent rain events access to Boorabee across the other side of the Severn River was not possible during this survey so separate targeted surveys will be carried out next year with a focus on Koalas. The Willows property was showing the beneficial effects of recent sustained rainfall, with fresh green ground cover vegetation throughout.
The most significant and surprising result from the targeted surveys was the capture of a young male Spotted-tailed Quoll trapped on the southern edge of the Severn River Gorge. The significance of this capture is that this Nationally and State-listed threatened species had never previously been recorded from the IPA. The presence of a juvenile animal is also significant as it indicates breeding in the area.
“There has been pieces of quoll skeleton found on Willows IPA in the past, but with the capture of a live one it indicates that feral cat management and the cessation of 1080 baiting is having a positive effect on allowing the species to repopulate the area” (T.Potter 2015).
Other important records of threatened species from targeted trapping were a pregnant female South-eastern Long-eared Bat (Nationally and State-listed) from the edge of the Severn River Gorge and two individuals of the Eastern Cave Bat (State-listed) from near the Severn River Gorge and adjacent to Arrawatta Creek. Another threatened species, the Black-breasted Buzzard (State-listed) was observed soaring near the Willows bunkhouses and the record of this normally inland species is a first from the IPA. Camera traps were also deployed in suitable areas of habitat to opportunistically target Bettongs and Koalas and potentially any other invasive species such as feral pigs and goats. The cameras will be left out for a month and checked for results.
Post-burn systematic surveys at the Severn River riparian plot yielded a number of records of threatened birds (State-listed), particularly declining woodland species. These comprised large flocks of the Little Lorikeet feeding at Blakely’s Red Gum flowers, a number of Brown Treecreepers with at least two recently-fledged young, a pair of Diamond Firetails building a nest, and individual Turquoise Parrots. Additional records of Turquoise Parrots, Brown Treecreepers and Diamond Firetails were made across the IPA.
An essential tool for conducting small mammal surveys is the Elliott trap in which a tasty bait of peanut butter and oats tempts animals in overnight so they can be removed, examined and released the following morning. Sometimes there are unexpected captures in these traps. Firesticks ecologist David Milledge was intrigued to find that a rather large Red-bellied Black Snake had spent the night in relative comfort in one of these small traps during the last systematic plot surveys in Willows IPA. Perhaps it was the dark enclosed space or maybe the residual smell from past rodent captures that enticed this reptile into the trap. Another interesting animal recorded by the landholders recently was this albino echidna, another example of the diversity found on the IPA.