Although I’ve been trying to start blogging for a while now, the conference season and some busy weeks have kept me away from the growing backlog of ideas for posts. But the last weekend provides the perfect excuse for a first entry related to two of my projects, so here we go!
The Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group (VMRG) is the organisation of volunteers that conducts the monitoring of malleefowl mound activity in the state of Victoria. Malleefowls (Leipoa ocellata) are really cool birds with a fascinating breeding ecology, but I’ll dedicate a future blog entry to introduce them properly. For the time being, I’ll just tell they construct very large mounds in the sand in arid and semi-arid regions of Australia, in which they incubate their eggs.
The VMRG is a key partner in one of our Adaptive Management projects, providing a truly impressive data set of mound activity observations at many survey sites scattered along the range of the species in Victoria. Every year, they gather at Wyperfeld National Park for a weekend in which new volunteers are trained in bush safety, use of equipment and learn the monitoring protocol, an essential step to ensure data consistency!
This weekend provides us (Cindy and myself) with an opportunity to catch up, learn from their experiences in the field and update them with what we’ve been up to with the Adaptive Management project (food for another blog entry, by the way). Oh well, and an excuse for us to get away from the computer monitor for a while!
The rest of the weekend was dedicated to our other Adaptive Management project, which is in Wyperfeld National Park, in collaboration with Parks Victoria (again, I’ll add more detail about this interesting project in a future post!). We visited different areas of the park that are of particular conservation concern due to overgrazing by native kangaroos and introduced herbivores (rabbits and goats). Acting ranger-in-charge David Christian gave us a comprehensive tour of parts of the park that include mature stands of buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii) and slender cypress-pine (Callitris gracilis).
As a side note, I had a first go at driving a 4WD on sand! (often remarkably similar feeling to driving on compacted snow, to which I’m used after living 8 years in Finland).
And finally, the 5 hours’ drive back to Melbourne… did I say already that Australia is indeed a BIG country?
PS: for the birders around, we had some exciting sightings that provided the icing on the cake: some of the parrot specialities of the mallee (Major Mitchell’s cockatoos, blue bonnets, regent and mulga parrots) and an inquisitive striped honeyeater! We also saw two malleefowls in what I’d call the “malleefowl highway”, close to Ouyen.