Over the past month or so, we’ve been working on the Perth Zoo Tiwest Night Stalk implementation of the Biological Data Recording System software, putting it into action for that particular project. Last night, we got to get out and run a Night Stalk ourselves. So, off we went to Thomsons Lake in the southern areas of Perth, happily festooned with head torches, lights, mobile devices, insect repellant and kids… and had a safety briefing first, of course! Once we’d talked that through, we set out the Anabat unit to record bat calls, we were off for real.
Safety briefing and planning for the Night Stalk
Once we were all aware of what was going to happen, we appointed Ben as the scribe and went out looking for what we could find. We all had different highlights, so I thought rather than try to paraphrase them we’d just let the people who were there say what they thought were their own highlights:
- Tom – Chance for a walk in the bush at night with people who can tell me what I am seeing and hearing. Having an Entomologist, Taxonomist, Botanist, Birdo and people with experience of frogs certainly helped. It was great to see the kids getting into things and to see the BDRS in operation evident in the gloom of the night with peoples faces eerily lit by the screens.
- James – Rosie (his daughter) making fake animal footprints in the sand and asking people what they were. Meeting peoples extended families. Seeing the dev’s hard work in action.
- Kehan – going on a family outing with the rest of the staff.
- AJ – The enthusiasm of everyone, young and old, to explore nightlife of one of our local reserves…. oh, and the gadgets!
- Natalia – The highlight for me was when AJ calmly said something like “that bird has a fluffy tail” as we were walking away convinced by the Brushtail Possum’s acting as a Boobook Owl. Also playing with Mr Crinia glauerti
- Andrew – The highlight for the boys (Jordan and Josh) was holding that frog that Andrew caught (see evidence below!)
The kids get to hold a Crinia glauerti (gently of course)
For me personally, this was a great event. I got to go and buy a torch (well, more of a portable tanning device) and get back to my field days for a brief period of time. Thankfully, I’d done a recon trip the weekend before, and knew what to expect – and now that my health is back to “normal”, I’ve actually been getting out most weekends birding, so my calls are getting better (helped along by the fact I own a copy of the BOCA Bird Call CDs!). That significantly helped with my ids – if I had to narrow it down to a single highlight, it would be taking a group of people who’ve never really done this out in the field, and seeing them interested in the environment that they live in.
The end results of the trip? Well, here’s a species list:
- Western Grey Kangaroo
- European Rabbit
- Tree Martin
- Rainbow Lorikeet
- Black-shouldered Kite
- Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike
- Whistling Kite
- Australian Raven
- Laughing Kookaburra
- Australian Reed Warbler
- Grey Fantail
- Musk Duck
- Glauert’s Froglet
- An Orb-weaving spider (there were quite a few!)
- Barn Owl
- An unidentified bat seen flying past the torches
- Slender Tree Frog
- Common Brushtail Possum
- Southern Forest Bat (confirmed with our Anabat)
I would like to say thanks to all who came along for the Night Stalk, especially Andrew and Natalia who came along (and who can identify frog calls, and also catch them very quickly!). I think it was a great success and we will be back out there doing more things like this in the future.
The Gaia Resources 2011 Night Stalk team