Dryandra Woodlands¦Darling Range Branch Visit

 DRB Nats 21 -23 October 2022

This intergenerational weekend offered the 19 participants a variety of opportunities to see the Dryandra woodland featuring the largest remnant of native vegetation in the western Wheatbelt. It’s a valuable and diverse conservation area. Well-signed walking trails guided us through magnificent open eucalypt woodland. The tall, white-barked wandoo and the mallet trees are impressive.

Tawny Frogmouth on nest with two chicks

The weekend started well with a Tawny Frogmouth and two chicks spotted in a tree close to our cottages at Lions Woodland Village. Sighted around the camp were many kangaroo including a very pale (leucistic) one, an echidna and a woylie plus some scat (probably possum) on the cottage stairs.

Looking for wildlife on our many walks

The chatter was: will we see a numbat? Success came when on the Darwinia Drive Trail, with pictures taken to prove it. Overall, 36 bird species were seen, including a flock of Purple Crowned Lorikeets, Rufus Tree-creeper and Restless Flycatcher. Orchids were searched for, and many flowers identified. Andrew Wallace took a few intrepid folks on a nocturnal insect adventure in the rain on the first night there.

Talks given on the weekend

Kendra Campbell offered a talk on how she balanced being a fulltime environmental scientist with a mining company with her volunteerism. She shared about the turtle tagging opportunities she has undertaken in the Kimberley and the value of this for conservation. She shared some insights into the best way to do this without harming the natural process of turtle breeding.

Michael Lohr from the consultancy group 360 Environmental, gave us a wake-up call about the indiscriminate use of rat poison in the community. His thought-provoking talk identified the dangers of so-called second-generation rodenticides with a half-life of 300 days. Animals who consume a bait and still walk around for a very long time with the poison in their system, may be attacked and eaten by another (non-target) species, including humans – especially in Aboriginal communities.

Cheryl Lohr shared her work story about Lorna Glen, a 240,000 hectare conservation reserve near Mullewa. Her current research is how to deal with feral cats in an arid landscape. We know how to deal with foxes using 1080 poison dropped from the air. Cats don’t eat these baits. Counting cats by cameras and paw prints was explained, as was the paperwork needed to hold an intense trapping programme. Lots of cats are eliminated, however it only needs a successful breeding period and the numbers creep up.

Planned Excursion:

Barna Mia is home to five tagged species of marsupial: bilby, boodie, woylie, quenda and mala. They live in two 4-hectare enclosures that keep out chuditch, fox and feral cat predators, however winged ones can still swoop in and take an animal. There was a brush-tailed possum with lovely big eyes. Rangers can monitor the tagged animals’ comings and goings. If they haven’t moved for a while, their collars are said to be in “mortality mode” i.e., they are probably dead. There is only one bilby in the reserve now: a few of us saw it.

Overall, a great success and worth repeating.

Arlene Quinn
DRB Excursions Coordinator

See page 2 for lists of sightings