Nature Wins Hearts at the Blue Sky Festival 2019

DRB Nats Excursion
All Photographs by Frankie Wallace
Eric McCrum shows the crowd a taxidermy Quenda specimen

It was the second year that the DRB Nats attended the Blue Sky Festival in Mundaring—and it was an even bigger hit than last year. The DRB stall was constantly attended by a stream of visitors and the nature walks run by Eric McCrum proved popular.

Drew Wallace and stick insects

Also, a major drawcard was Andrew Wallace, aged 12 years, who was demonstrating with his live stick insects. He helped people learn all about them and allowed them to walk on their hands. He was kind enough to let people choose a big, medium or small stick insect but of course some shied away, while others were eager for the experience.
People were fascinated by the ‘Magic Mud’ displayed by Kevn and Peg Griffiths.

A large sign explained all the basic steps involved so that Kevn could answer the many questions that came his way. What is magic mud? It is simply mud from a dried-out lake or swamp that comes to life. In order to make some, first dig up some dry (or nearly dry) mud. Then place it in a nice aquarium. Next, add some clean water, preferably from a rainwater tank. Make a lid to fit tightly over the top of the aquarium. Place the aquarium in a well-lit spot which catches a bit of morning sun. Then wait. After a week or two, look for specks of life moving through the water: magic. This sort of activity can fascinate both children and adults alike and give them something very practical to do to foster their interest in natural history. Kevn had mud from Lake Percolili in Kalgoorlie, which had produced lots of minute crustaceans which feed on algae.

In addition, Kevn sold his fungi books and we gave away our DRB event timetables for the year, our brochures and cards. We also held a free draw, in order to collect more emails to add to our visitor mailing list, which now runs to over 420. The winner of the professional wireless rain gauge, kindly donated by Jaycar Electronics in Midland, was Norman Aitken.

In addition to helping foster a greater love and understanding of the natural history of the Perth Hills, the Blue Sky Festival also gives the DRB Nats a valuable opportunity to network with other like-minded groups. These included the Wildflower Society, Nearer to Nature, Shire of Mundaring, EMRC, Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre, Helena River Catchment Group, Friends of Piesse Brook, and more. We even booked a new speaker and were potentially booked to run more bird workshops.

Thanks to all DRB Nats members who turned out to talk to the crowds. You did a magnificent job. I am sorry if I have missed someone but thanks to Bill Fitzgerald, Joff Start, Joan Start, Wendy Simpson, Bradley Cox, Marilyn Honeybun, Anne Bologa, Annie Gordon and more. And the biggest thanks of all go to Frankie Wallace, who was chief organiser.

Rachel Green