With descriptive sampling over, this trip had a different focus. My mission switched to the unprecedented task of finally constructing a full survey data set of all the snails in every spring on Edgbaston. We know where all the fish are, and how they have changed through time and whilst some snail samples have been taken since 1984, to date there has not been a full survey of the park. In unison with my work, Nathan McClough from University of Canberra was also out, continuing his honours research on the way Mosquito fish use springs. Plus, David Coulston (aka Cujo) of Bush Heritage also needed a hand with some prickly acacia management and fencing. Thats a lot of work for a 4 day trip. So, to help with these burdensome tasks, the iROOS came along for this second visit to Edgbaston.
The iROOS are a voluntary organisation of students from The University of Queensland that formed almost a decade ago when a bunch of students on a field trip decided that it seemed unrealistic that outback park rangers and managers were expected to conserve their parks alone – and offered their services free of charge as labourers, surveyors, fencers and teachers. They’ve worked primarily in western Queensland, surveying plants and animals on Idalia National Park near Blackall (their volunteering home since the groups inception), been pivotal in the annual mark-recapture efforts to monitor the endangered Bridle Nail-tailed Wallaby, helped fence with South-West Natural Resource Management in the Charleville region and now they can add snail counting and fish catching to their list.
It was a great trip, a busy time for Edgbaston with so many people around but we got heaps done and had a great time in the process. The data I have collected will be pivotal for assessing the current state of endemic snail populations on Edgbaston and help us develop management plans to make sure every single one of them can persist.
Thank you to the iROOS for all their amazing help! Can’t wait to bring you all out next time!
The iROOS arrive on Edgbaston and enjoy their first sunset – Dylan and Cody
The iROOS enjoy their first sunset on Edgbaston – Alex, Ryan, Clare and Ophalia
The iROOS enjoy their first sunset on Edgbaston – Ophalia and Conor
The rocky ridges on Edgbaston light up at sunset – the ‘jump up’ is one of my favourite spots to sit and spend the last hours of the day.
Sunset through the trees
Birds like these Black winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus) are also suggested modes of transport snails could use to move between springs.
The most people I have EVER seen in a spring – the iROOS help Nathan (UC) sample for Mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki) in a spring drain. Photo Ian Rossini
Ever lush Cyperus laevigatus lights up the springs landscape with vivid green.
Conor the diligent note taker assisted in sampling the snails of Edgbaston – this trip we visited EVERY spring to get an idea of who lives where.
The ever popular Red-finned Blue-eye (Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis), cute as always.
Springs are a great place at sunset – the light makes everything come alive. Photo Ian Rossini
Edgbaston was crawling with parrots this trip; every day we saw Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulates) and Cockateel (Nymphicus hollandicus) which seems a bit weird when you are used to seeing them and hearing them in the suburbs.
Very cute geckos found by Sasha around the shed. Photo Ian Rossini
The A team, walking from spring to spring sampling for fishes and snails is not so hard in the pleasant April temperatures.
Very cute and tiny dragons abound – this guy was found running around in the grasses of the spring.
Clare takes notes on the condition of each spring to be used with assessing the patterns of snail diversity at Edgbaston.
Sasha sifting through the samples for snails – in every spring we searched long and hard for tiny snails to see who lives where and to try and work out why.
The Brolgas are a regular fixture at Edgbaston – this trip we didn’t see them until the last minute but were lucky enough to see them up close and personal, and even see them have a little prance and dance as we drove away.
Emus are also everywhere, and are so curious that they can get right next to you before they run away. Or you could just chase them.
A little red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) sheltering under a tree.
New vents are often hard to see on the surface, but you can feel the water rippling before the surfacer. Or, if you’re not careful, you can discover them by falling in.
One falls in, then everyone wants to have a go.
Photo Ian Rossini
Ophalia – legendary snail sorter and sampler – with a snail sample from one of the smaller springs on the central scald at Edgbaston.
Parasitic wasps are large, colourful and abundant on Edgbaston. I’ve seen species similar to this dragging away victims to be held prisoner then eaten alive. Very cool.
Another beautiful teeny tiny frog that I need to work on ID for. Very cute.
The clouds form the leaves of this dead tree as the sunsets on another day. Photo Ian Rossini.
Para grass spring is a FAMOUS spring for swallowing people up! Here, Sasha falls in to the armpits, Cody comes to the rescue only to fall in too.
One charming lady (Clare) and one not-so-charming lady (Sasha) enjoying a break from their hard work.
The iROOS and Nathan (minus Conor) up on the uplands in the north of Edgbaston.
Photo Ian Rossini
Our last sunset on Edgbaston – camping out on the scald surrounded by the call of frogs and the birds in the springs.
The scald is a great place for a bonfire – not a tree in sight to set alight. So Cody put himself to the task of building us a good one to celebrate Dylans birthday.
The scald is a great place to go looking for terrestrial animals too. This big Carabid beetle came crawling out of the spinifex.
Striped burrowing frogs (Cyclorana alboguttata) are everywhere in the springs at night – this is a nice big one.
Thanks to all the iROOS, my dad and to Nathan for a great trip. The crew, from the left, Cody, Conor, Nathan, Renee, Ophalia, Sasha, Clare, Dylan, Ryan, Alex and Ian.