An update from Fauna Officer Julie Schofield
Mt Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren and Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps Recovery Program, Field Naturalists Society SA and the Green Army team have been out in the swamps helping landholders discover the critters that live there. Conservation SA staff were part of the group and instigators of the surveys.
Photo credit: Julie Schofield
The unique and beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps are a threatened ecological community. Landholders are being asked to manage them for the benefit of the vegetation community. However, the swamps can also be home to rare and unusual critters.
Due to the thickness of the vegetation it can be difficult to see animals that live in the swamps. So the Recovery Program, in conjunction with the Green Army (hosted by Conservation Volunteers Australia) and the Field Naturalists Society SA, have undertaken some mammal and reptile trapping to give us a better idea about the hidden creatures that call the swamps home.
All animals are released after a less than 12 hour stay in the traps. During their stay they are made as comfortable as possible, with raincoats placed over the traps to prevent the rain, toilet rolls as hidey-holes and bait to munch on. The traps are placed so they don’t get midday sun or morning frost.
The first week was wet and cold so not many reptiles were captured, but the group were excited to catch a fish (Mountain Galaxia - Galaxias olidus, in case you were wondering) in one of the mammal traps, which became flooded as it was so wet. No mammals were captured during the flooding and the traps were moved to higher ground.
So far, the team have completed two of the three weeks of surveying. While nothing rare has been found, lots of cool natives have turned up, such as bush rats (Rattus fuscipes), swamp rats (Rattus lutreolis) and yellow-footed antechinus (Antechinus flavipes).
One of the landholders was so keen that she joined the group on several of the trap checks along with her grandkids, who loved seeing the mammals in their natural habitat.
In week one of the survey, 55 mammals, six reptiles and amphibians, and one fish were recorded. Then, in the second week, 79 mammals, and six reptiles and amphibians were trapped (and released).
The team had a great time and lots of laughs, even though the work was at times hard – especially those 6am traps checks!
We're looking forward to seeing what they discover on the final week of the survey!
Images by Julie Schofield