During the period of 6–9 November, Trevor Pescott, assisted by some members of the Friends of Eastern Otways, conducted a Mammal Survey in Anglesea Heath at the Marshy Creek crossing, on Gum Flats Road.
It was a comprehensive survey, which involved the use of remote sensor cameras, Elliott traps, Harp Traps, Funnels and Pitfalls. Trevor has provided a summary of the survey results.
The weather conditions varied from fine and hot, with temperatures around 30°C, during the day, dropping to about 20°C with a cool change and light shower of rain on Friday night.
Twenty small Elliott traps were set in 2 lines, each with 10 traps numbered consecutively. They were placed in the dense vegetation, with 10 traps upstream, and 10 traps downstream of the ephemeral watercourse which crosses Allardyce Track. The trapping yielded 4 Rattus fuscipes Bush Rats (2 females, 1 male, and 1 not sexed).
Two Harp traps were set for two nights, at two different sites. The results were pleasing, with 25 bats caught in the trap at site 1 on the second night. Five different species were recorded:
1. Chalinolobus gouldii Gould’s Wattled Bat (1 male 1 female)
2. Nyctophylus geoffroyi Lesser Long-eared Bat (1 male)
3. Vespadelus darlingtoni Large Forest Bat (1 male)
4. Vespadelus regulus Southern Forest Bat (1 male)
5. Vespadelus vulturnus Little Forest Bat (8 males 3 females)
The Funnels and Pitfalls were set out in open, heathy woodland, with sparse, mid-storey and ground-cover vegetation. Two Pitfall traps and five Funnel traps were set along one 15 m long, drift fence, and one Pitfall trap and three Funnel traps a 10 m long drift fence. (A drift fence is any long, continuous fence used when collecting animals for research, or in farming.) Four Lampropholis guichenoti Garden Skinks were caught in these, and measured.
Two cameras were set out. One was focussed on a bait-cage at ground level, and the second attached to the trunk of a large Messmate in which there were many hollows. No fauna were photographed.
The bushland seemed to be very dry, no doubt the result of lower than average rainfall this year. Twenty-four birds were observed in the survey area, and a Satin Flycatcher’s nest was being built on a dry, horizontal branch, about 10 m above the damp creek-bed near Cecil Track.
Peter Crowcroft gave an account of an interesting wildlife encounter. He was snorkelling with a group at Point Roadknight, when he found an old, hollow, rubber dog-ball. He picked it up, to discover it was the home of a Blue-ringed Octopus. Fortunately, they were all able to have a look, without incident, but it is a good reminder that these creatures can live in any small opening, such as bottles, cans or shells, or apparently, rubber balls.
Another good news story occurred early in November. A Sacred Kingfisher was found on the ground in a local garden. It appeared to be unconscious. The property owners picked up the bird and noticed a flicker of life. They then placed it in a darkened, safe spot for a couple of hours. Later the bird recovered completely, and flew away, which was a really satisfying outcome.