Friday 19th February. Out in the bush with spiderman!

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I’ll start with a weather update. It is fine now but 1 hour ago it was drizzling rain. The maximum temperature will be 19 ° C and the minimum will be 10 ° C. When I was up near the shed calling Miss Erbacher and Mrs King on the mobile phone the wind was very cold!

Last night I went up to the shed to see what was happening in the scientists’ lab. Lynne, a specialist in ants, leeches and beetles, and Fiona, a specialist in seagrasses and seaweeds, were busy going through their collection for the day.

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To get her specimens, Fiona had been out on a boat dredging in D’entrecasteaux Channel (off the west coast of the island and is named after a French explorer who sailed around Tasmania around the time Captain Cook did). She had some seaweeds and red algae that looks like red seaweed. Lynne had been pinning the beetles she had collected over the last couple of days. All very pain staking, precise work!

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Today Maryanne, a teacher from Sydney Grammar School, and I worked alongside Dr Robert Raven of the Queensland Museum. Dr Rob is an expert in spiders, he is an arachnologist. He wanted to do some collecting at Cape Bruny (at the southern tip of the island) and at a survey site just north of there.

I have learnt so much from Dr Rob just from a quick conversation over breakfast not to mention all the other conversations during the day! He had a flat worm he found last night. This worm eats funnel web spiders and other trap door spiders. The worm moves very very slowly into the spider’s funnel, attaches between its body joints and eats it from the inside out. I have taken a photo of it and will show you it when I get back. It doesn’t look much but it is quite a vicious killer!

We spent time in the lab before taking off to Cape Bruny. Dr Rob wanted to go through the leaf litter he had collected last night. There were some small spiders in the litter. He got a large spider out of the fridge (how they are stored after collection) to show us.

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Time to Skype with Year 5 and 4, I hope it goes smoothly!

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I got to speak to Year 4 and 5 this morning and was hoping for a Skype hook up in the field. Dr Rob and I were at Cape Bruny at the southern end of the island amongst some heather (low brush) ready to connect to Yr 5 B but the Skype connect couldn’t be made. Instead, I took a video of our searching through the low brush and I can’t wait to show you when I return. Dr Rob explained so much plus he collected a spider while we were there.  

Then a 15 minutes’ drive north to Dr Rob’s trap site. He had put them out on the 15th February and had been inspecting them each day. Today he found scorpions and a couple of spiders in the trays.

 rob leaf litter  

This was the end of the day’s collecting. The drive back to base took us 40 minutes. Dr Rob will spend a couple of hours in the lab and he’ll be out again tonight. I’ll be going along with him. This will be my first night collection.