Tuesday, September 14, 2010

All of last season's mission reports!

I am currently upgrading the cvcia website and the intention is to move mission reports to here so I'm about to try and load all our old mission reports and photos here so we don't lose them. Here goes!!

2010 Mission Reports

19/03/10 - Mororo

As a reward for scouring Townsend, I took rent-a-crowd to Mororo. Metamorphs were everywhere and Bevan's crew bagged 410 toads. Not that it is a competition, but Sharon's crew hit McCondle Island road and bagged 121 toads - 553 all up. Great tallys gang! 14 volunteers again meant we could split into 2 teams, so wonderful numbers, guys.

12/03/10 - Townsend

A big crew of 14 managed to collect a concerning 57 toads from Townsend and 14 from South Bank Rd.

5/03/10 - Mororo

Kathie decided to visit Mororo on her own with Chris thinking we were all out there! They bagged 50 just along Lewis Lane.

19/03/10 - Micalo Island

Bevan's rent-a-crowd turned up to hit Micalo Island hard, and we did, bagging 199 toads (can you believe it??!).

12/02/10 - Mororo

We returned to Mororo not expecting to top last Friday and we did not, but 265 toads is not to be sneezed at! One of the best things about going toading is seeing so many cool native animals and the awesome stars. We found this little cutie (Peron's Tree Frog) at Bob's place on Banana Rd.

It was wonderful to see not only some of last week's heros turn up for another stab, but also to have 3 new members along. Ten volunteers is a wonderful number - we were able to split into two teams on each property and do a dam each.

My night photos do not turn out so well, but above we have Bevan, Judith, Jhyle, Bernie, Rob, Sharon R, Genevieve, Sharon D and Stuart (nice eye shine Stuart!).

Every time we go out we are getting more skilled and more efficient. At one point I looked up and saw a line of torches heading across the paddock towards me, emu parade style, and that made me smile - we are kicking toad butt! The CIA have now picked up over 3,000 toads this season already. Thank you to everyone.

11/02/10 - Woombah

Our fabulous Woombah crew went out again and picked up another 10 toads from Woombah Woods Caravan Park. Bob's Grabber is shown below - well done Bob!

05/02/10 - Woombah & Mororo

This was a massive night. We have hit peak season and the rains have come. 16 volunteers scoured Woombah, Lewis Lane and Banana Rd and picked up a whopping 883 cane toads in one night.

I would just like to pay tribute to the hard working Woombah crew who bagged 45 cane toads. It is not much fun when your buddies are on the other side of the highway pulling 250 cane toads off one property, but trust me guys, you are doing an amazing job. It is so important to keep vigilant and reduce the spread in Woombah. Annie, David and Bob have been out eight times (one or all of them at least) and have picked up a total of 122 toads from Woombah. These areas of low numbers are not as much fun, but twice as important so thanks guys.

22/01/10 - Palmers Island

Eight volunteers turned up to spend a night with the amazing Russell Jago who is contracted by NPWS to pick up cane toads. Russell has been begging for help from the community for years so he was absolutely chuffed to find us waiting for him (OK, I was late, as usual, but some of the CIA vols were there to meet him!).

Stuart, David, Scott and Judith all jumped at the chance to spend a night toading with Russell and they had a great time. However, when we all met up, I said "where's Judith?" and all of the guys looked blankly at each other. I know who was working the hardest! Judith appeared from a garden with a hand full of toads.

It was still very dry and we only bagged 102 toads, but saw 2 ringtail possums and set up some good landholder relations. This area is crying out for attention.

I absolutely love this photo of the fabulous Bethany Van Haren catching a cane toad at Palmers Island. Good on you Bethany!

2009 Mission Reports

19/12/09 - Micalo Island - West

I turned up to Micalo Island and was met by our Micalo Island Area Coordinator, Phil Richards. Phil had the night all planned out, teed up earlier with the landowners and four of us (plus a local island youngster) just ran around and collected 49 toads. This was fabulous for me to turn up and have the whole night already planned - great work Phil!

Annie, Judith and I always have fun together, even though Kathie was unable to come along and provide additional laughs for us. We were able to visit a few new dams and found a very large female and male at the Western point of Micalo. I had them both in one hand and the male instantly grasped the female in amplexis - it was difficult to part them! True love. Can you pick the male and female below?

Phil went out 3 consecutive nights after this on the East side of the island and bagged a whopping 111 further toads. Phil and I are determined to see if we can rid Micalo Island of cane toads - you have to have a hobby!

12/12/09 - Yamba Golf Course

I advertised a big night collecting at the Yamba Golf Course thus attracting 15 keen toadhunters (what a great turnout for this time of the year!). 7 of these guys had never been before so wonderful to get some newbies.

Overall, I (and others) were very disappointed in the cane toad turnout. I was expecting a gazillion and we only bagged 374 - 209 of which were metamorphs. There were a few large animals bagged though and my brainwave of the garden cart was my best idea of the year (no sore shoulders!).

The golf course is just toad heaven, short mown grass, dams, leaf litter to nestle in during the day and a wonderful sprinkler system which some on randomly across the course all night! We were fine with that until Judith pointed out where the water was coming from...
But, we had a great night of fun and the Van Haren family took out the prize for most toads collected bagging a whopping 184 metamorphs! Stuart was sacked from map duties after getting the "endurance" team lost on the back green and I displayed my complete lack of knowledge on golfing terminology much to the horror of the golfers in the group. Thanks guys, a good night. I think I might stick to Mororo for big nights, though!

28/11/09 - CIA Training Day and Toad Hunt Night

This was an excellent afternoon and thank you to all of the volunteers that pitched in and made my life easier. We had 24 participants, picked up at least 10 new volunteers and sent 4 teams of toad hunters out that night straight after a ripper thunderstorm.

The Woombah crew bagged 12 toads, all but 1 around the Woombah Woods Caravan Park. Annie has been doing a wonderful job taking charge of Woombah toad operations - thanks Annie!

We had 3 teams to hit Mororo, and we still did not run out of toads! 202 toads were bagged in this area. Neil Gorring bagged the biggest toad - a whopping 404g female, of course on the way home!

And Stuart could not resist taking photos of her the next day (in his defence, we all did!). We named her Toadzilla. A great success - phew!

19/11/09 - Brooms Head

CIA legendary volunteer Kathie Johns went out toading with Mark (Harry) Watts of NPWS. It is truly wonderful to see NPWS and the CIA working together so thanks Kathie and Mark for making this work. Only 1 toad though (how cool is that?) so Kathie said she is not that keen to go again due to the lack of action.

11/11/09 - Micalo Island

I just wanted to pay dues to Phil Richards as well who has been going out once every few nights and picking up cane toads around his place. Well done, Phil. You are making a difference.

10/11/09 - Warregah Island

Roger, Kathie and Sharon finally got to Warregah Island this season. Roger and Sharon spent the afternoon knocking on doors introducing themselves to landholders not already met so all island inhabitants now know of the CIA toad busters. We spent a great deal of time checking all waterbodies and confirmed that the biggest breeding site is in the drain near Graham's house.

All up we bagged 27 toads and I came away thinking this could be an island we might be able to clean out. This is encouraging as Warregah is currently infesting Chatsworth and Ashby so ridding this island of toads (and all landowners are contributing) would be a great achievement.

I will be taking my waders next time though! Ended up in thigh high water picking up calling males. I did not tell Kathie until the end that I had seen a few eels swim past me. Always fun.

28/10/09 - Mororo

After the heavy rains, many CIA members were keen to check out toad central, ie. Mororo. I think Kathie said "as if you are going to Mororo without me!". It was an interesting night with Kathie picking up a 1yo female that spat a metamorph out of it's mouth when caught, I found one with a back leg missing from birth and Kathie also found a male in amplexis with a female that was at least 2 days deceased - eewww!!
Roger got the prize of the night with a massive 3 yo female on Lewis Lane road pavement.

4 of us picked up 195 toads. While we were a little disappointed on the night, when I punched it into the magical spreadsheet, that came up with a massive 14 toads per person hour (the next best is 7.5) so we did OK. I guess we were expecting more, but we are also starting to tentatively pat ourselves on the back a little bit in this area. Perhaps we are making a difference in these localised hotspots? Time to knock on a few more doors and tackle some new dams.
24/10/09 - Yamba / Angourie

This was the CIA's first visit to Yamba and Angourie. We met 3 landowners along Carrs Drive, a notorious place for toads. We collected 50 toads on one property alone. Bevan was finding plenty on the tennis court. We visited Blue Pools and Green Pools and as we descended the stairs we could hear males calling from Blue Pool. We think we got them all (15 just in Blue Pool) including a 2yo male and 2yo female.
At the end of the night, when the Freddo Frogs were handed out, we counted up and dang, got 99 toads! We were too tired to find another one.
17/10/09 - Micalo Island

Phil Richards has been doing a wonderful job on Micalo Island last year and this year already so it was time to rally the troops and send a support team. I went up early afternoon so Phil and I drove around and knocked on doors and hunted freshwater soaks in daylight hours. It is still very dry on Micalo, which can sometimes work out good as the toads that are out are forced to the few waterholes remaining.
Stuart, Phil and I picked up only 40 toads for the night, but we also picked up a new Micalo CIA member, Nick Flett! I was able to put my GPS to good use and waypointed all waterholes. We will return after the rains!
10/10/09 - Mororo

We finished off the weekly push with 7 volunteers and bagged another 155 toads at Mororo. It was great to see the number of toads in the same dams drop over the week. I have put this on the data and analysis page. I now wait for the rains to see what happens in those areas.
7/10/09 - Mororo

As we were trying to pick as many toads as we could in 1 week, we decided to stick with Mororo. 4 people picked up 90 toads in 3 hours. The surprsie of the night was finding 20 x 1 yo males and 1 popular female in the bottom dam on Pete and Elisa's place on Mororo Road, which was relatively clear last year.
3/10/09 - Mororo

This was the first toading for the season to coincide with the NT and WA NEW weekly toad push, ie. see how many toads the community of Australia can pick up in one week. We thought it might be too early and dry for the cane toads, but were stunned to collect a whopping 189 toads for the night.
2008 Mission Reports

On Friday 6th March, Sharon Lehman and 3 new CIA members, Janet Cavanaugh, Annie Becker and Chris Johnson-Walker went toading in the Mororo area. The best news of the night was we found NO TOADS in Giovanni's dams - a huge credit to the landowners and CIA members who have been pulling toads out of the dam 4 nights in all.
We visited a few new dams and made some new contacts with neighbours. It was wonderful to see less on Warregah Island as well. We collected 100 toads in all and again, everyone who came along had fun and vowed to come out another time!

On Friday 20/02/09, a group of 6 CIA operatives visited the Mororo area again. They had just experienced 50 mm of rain in 30 minutes so water was flowing everywhere and the toads were out in force. We made some great new contacts and have plenty of dams to focus on each time we go up. We only got to 3 properties that night, but ended up with a haul of 257 toads (170 males and 87 females).
It was very heartening to revisit a dam for a third time on Mororo Rd that was loaded with males the last 2 visits and only pull out 3 males this time. The landowner had also been doing some control and pulled a further 30 toads out so I think we are inspiring some landowners to have a go. If everyone did what these people were doing on their own land (private and public) we would beat the toads (maybe with a little help from the CIA!)
We are pushing close to 750 toads now but with the NPWS Yamba Round Up on tonight the count should fly through the roof. Keep an eye on the calendar for our next group trip or get out there and let us know how many you get. Over and out.

On Wednesday 11/02/09, Leonie Blain and Sharon Lehman went out together in the rain toad hunting at Mororo again. This really is the front pushing West so all CIA toad efforts are currently being concentrated on Mororo and Warregah Island. It was a wet slippery night (Leonie had to pull me out of a dam twice!) but we managed to pick up 61 toads. Not bad! Leonie has vowed to go again and we both agreed this is good exercise while helping the environment!

On Friday 6th February I went up early to Chatsworth and Warregah Islands to meet some locals and talk toad. I found the Tree of Knowledge opposite the Chatsworth Shop - perfect! This was very worthwhile and allowed me to deliver the CIA flyers warning people of our toad efforts. I am now able to make a few phone calls from home to let people know we are coming.
Then at 8pm, 4 other CIA operatives and 3 NPWS staff came up and we hit the area hard. We only ended up with about 1.5 hrs toad collecting time but all up managed to bag 138 toads. The winners of the night were the NPWS team, but they admit their 14 year old local cane toad collector friend did most of the dirty work! They pulled 78 toads out of 1 dam - unbelievable! My dreams are coming true! It was so wonderful to have a big team together to split into 3 groups and hit the area hard.

I went up to Brooms Head on my own 3/02/09 and only got 7 toads. This is good news as it shows all the efforts of NPWS Matt Clarke, Russell Jago and Jeff Thomas have paid off. It proves to me we can beat the toad and gives me the drive to continue battling at Mororo.

CIA Operatives conduct their first mission - Cane Toad collecting! On Thursday 22/01/09 David Cole and Sharon Lehman went out toad hunting and picked up 74 toads!! These nearly all came from Warregah Island Road and Lewis Road, Mororo.
We will definitely let the Police know next time before we head out so they know what is going on. It looks very suspicious when you have 2 people driving slowly with torches and David and I did get stopped by the Woombah Police. Perhaps this was because some of the letters rubbed off our hi-vis vests and said "OD PAROL"!! They were very nice when we explained what we were doing. It did make me realise though that if anyone is heading out for some toading, make sure you let neighbours and the Police know what you are doing.
I am now doing up a flyer to alert neighbours to our next toading adventure in the Mororo / Warregah Island planned for either Friday 6th or Saturday 7th February 2009. Email me if you would like to go out the same night so we can coordinate and be more effective - that's the whole point of this network - come on, do something for the valley!! We had a ball, didn't we David??

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Scientist Article - are cane toads really that bad?

Wow! The New Scientist has just published an article where some of the lead researchers in Australia are claiming that cane toads have not been anything near the ecological disaster they were anticipating. Rick Shine is even quoted as saying "there isn't that much overall effect".
Check it out at:
Maybe we can all just sit at home on a Friday night with a cool drink and not worry so much! I'm still not prepared to throw the towel in. I promised we would give it a good hard go for 3 years and just 1.5 years in to that, the state and federal positions and ability to act on cane toads has changed dramatically. Do we give up? Hmmmm.... Controversial and fund-affecting.