Jesse and Chris have been conducting the annual biodiversity surveys lately on properties along Roe Creek. There is some stunning habitat through this area, and we have had a few interesting encounters.
Stripe-faced Dunnarts Sminthopsis macroura, have been the most common mammals trapped but we have also had Long-haired Rats Rattus villosissimus, and the odd feral House Mouse Mus musculus. Apart from the small mammals, all of the properties also have healthy populations of Euro Macropus robustus, and at least two of the four properties surveyed also have colonies of the Black-footed Rock Wallaby Petrogale lateralis lateralis.
Invertebrate life was booming across all the surveys sites, no doubt helped along by the onset of the warmer weather and a few light showers. We were lucky enough to witness a mass hatching of Caper Whites Belenois java. This is one of the more common butterflies in central Australia but it was exciting to see them all lining the stems and emerging to dry their wings at the same time. We found a few different species of wolf spider (family Lycosidae) in our pit traps but these are yet to be identified to species level. Several live specimens and a few empty shells of local land snail species were found. These are most likely all from the genus Sinumelon but may belong to two different species. Either way, it is always exciting to find land snails as so many of the species in central Australia are poorly known or undescribed.
The most unusual catch of the week was a lone Spinifex Pigeon Geophaps plumifera, that wandered in to make itself at home in one of our Elliott traps. This my not be a first for this largely terrestrial species but it was certainly a surprise for Jesse and Chris as they inspected the traps on the last morning.
The skies were teeming with birdlife. Highlights included Wedge-tailed Eagles, Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos, Sacred Kingfishers, Spinifex Pigeons, Dusky Grasswrens, and a Collared Sparrowhawk.
These pictures are just a taster, but Jesse and Chris will complete the full report for these surveys over the next few weeks as they pick through all the results.