Thursday 18th February.Snail and dragonfly collecting!

Here is a map of Bruny Island and to the left, part of the coastline of the mainland. Below is a photo from the base looking out to the bay around 7:30 am this morning.

bruny island map   day4 blog view from base

Up and getting ready at 7:15 am today. The weather is kinder today at a mild 18 °C with some drizzling rain and thankfully no wind. The winds for the last 3 days have been strong to very strong. You really know you are close to the Great Southern Ocean and the winds that blow off it!   Today I headed out with Bruce from Earthwatch and 2 scientists, Kevin and Abbey. Kevin specialises in snails and Abbey specialises in butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and some moths. We drove to the survey site which was in Dennes Hill Nature Reserve overlooking Bull Bay. The reserve and bay is beautiful.

day4 blog arrive reserveday4 blog road to reserve

A reserve is land set aside for conservation and not to be altered (for example, farmed) and is managed by the government. The Dennes Hill Nature Reserve is covered in what is called a dry forest. Kevin said this forest has been disturbed (parts cleared by humans, been grazed by livestock and had fire through it). Insert photo of reserve Kevin used a map to let Bruce, who was driving, know exactly where the survey site was and how close we were to it. The country side near the reserve is fenced as most of the hill is farmland (except for the reserve) where famers keep livestock(sheep) in paddocks. The road to the site was mainly a dirt road therefore we were travelling fairly slowly.  It took about 20 minutes to reach the reserve. All organisms (living things, plants or animals) collected during Bush Blitz are only taken from reserves or national parks. These sites are good environments to find native species in plus it is easy to get permission to go onto this land. You don’t have to ask a lot of private landholders.

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erday4 blog reserve 2  day4 blog abbey notes reserve 1  day4 blog abbey specimen jar

                                

When we arrived the weather was fine which gave us good conditions for collecting. It was lovely and sunny as we walked up the hill side of the reserve.  Only after a couple of minutes walking Abbey was sweeping her net over vegetation searching for, and hoping to catch, butterflies. It wasn’t long before she had netted one and had it safely away in a specimen jar.  Abbey collected about 4 butterflies. The butterflies are brown with 2 shades of brown markings.

She tried to find some damselflies over the dam but as it was cool and overcast therefore the insects weren’t active. Insert photo of abbey Kevin did very well in collecting a rare small golden snail. He also found some specimens (both alive and dead) of a native common snail. He did spot some introduced snails and slugs but didn’t collect them. Insert photo golden snail and snail.

day4 blog kevin me search snails  day4 blog rock search snail  day4 blog golden snail

Around midday we headed back to base so Abbey could put specimen in the fridge and get another butterfly net. The afternoon survey site is further south at the Big Lagoon and Little Lagoon near Moorina, a bay that faces south. Before we could head of to the Big Lagoon site we had to wash our boots. This was needed to remove any soil we picked up from the reserve which could contain a plant disease (pathogen).  We wash our shoes and the car tyres to remove any of the plant disease.

day4 blog scrub boots 

 

The sun was trying hard to stay out but at times it became overcast and dull.  The land was flat and very sandy except for the dunes that surrounded the eastern side of the lagoon. Abbey collected some very beautiful blue damselflies. They were the male of the species. She also caught a small moth. With much patience, she was able to collect a dragonfly. Dragonflies are much larger than damselflies and hold their wings spread out when at rest.  Kevin didn’t have any luck finding any snails at the Big Lagoon it just wasn’t the right environment. Snail like damp leaf litter, logs or rocks to live under. He tried to help catch some butterflies or damselflies. 

day4 blog to Big Lagoonday4 blog big lagoon

day4 blog abbey specimens b lagoon  day4 blog damselfly

 

 

I had a go at using the large net. I caught a damselfly, flies and ants. I also collected a leaf curl spider. It weaves its web around a leaf to create a hiding place. As it does this the leaf curls. Rob the spiderman from Queensland Museum said this type of spider can be found in Brisbane.

 

While we were all away from base one of the organiser found an eastern quoll in the dining / lounge room. At night we knew a quoll was getting into food left out but we couldn’t work out where it was getting in. It wasn’t getting in at night, it was living inside! It was eventually coax out of the building!