Sunday, October 24, 2010

23/10/10 - University of Sydney, Matt Greenlees tours CV toads

Last night I met with Matt Greenlees, from the Shine Lab, University of Sydney, to take him on a tour of our Clarence Valley cane toad population. This photo of Matt sums up how we spent most of the night, huddled over our cameras taking photos of the beautiful native frogs out and about.
I showed Matt Angourie, Yamba and then visited some of our favourite haunts in Mororo. Matt is interested in studying the NSW cane toad population (hallelujah!!) and we spent most of the night discussing experimental design, how we can assess if the CIA is effective and how we can make the most difference.
Tyler's Tree Frog, Litoria tylerii calling in the ladies.
Like David Newell last fortnight, Matt was very positive about the possibility for valid research opportunities with the numerous farm dams in the Mororo area. One of our wonderful landholders who has done many nights of manual control has done some work around a few of the dams, which also presents some research opportunities to see if cane toads move into a dam previously not conducive to toads.

Mixophyes fasciolatus leaving the dam - with tail still attached!
OK. Gotta move from nocturnal to diurnal for holiday with family. Good night!

Warregah Island 22/10/10 - is it too early to get excited?!

A keen group of 8 CIA volunteers laughed at the rain and thunderstorms and trekked to Warregah Island to see what we had to face this season. Kath and Judith were there as usual...

and then Sharon D joined the party. Soon after, Bevan's rent-a-crowd turned up with Rob, Simone and Marie. Our first exciting find was a frog on a stick! How cool is this??
but the most exciting thing of the night was to find only 61 toads, 40 of which were sub-adults, that is, the metamorphs we missed last year. We still got a few large toads, but I'm quietly confident we can make a big difference in this isolated population this season. Local landholder Graham is also doing a great deal of control many nights.
This is an important area to control and until we return in January, I wont call it, but I was very excited to see our tally sheet for the night. Actually, no, the best thing of the night was seeing Kath doing ballet in the muddy drain, one gumboot stuck in the mud, one socked toe pointing out behind her while I clutched her and pulled the gumboot out. Bevan had to get Kath off her bot and she had the mud to prove it! Kath, you make us laugh every time, but I know I wont get you back to Warregah!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Team Gecko

I just read tonight a claim that the Asian House Geckos are the most invasive reptiles in the world and now has the widest range of any lizard in the world. That's amazing. And most people do not realise that the "chuck, chuck, chucking" of the gecko on their verandah is actually the sound of an invasive pest.

Well, the good news is that a few CIA volunteers have started a small group to start investigating how big a problem it is, if there are any control measures and whether this would be effective at all. Once this has occured, we can look at whether we need to do any education on the issue and whether control is an option.

At the very minimum, it seems we are at the bottom end of the distribution of this pest and at least monitoring and reporting our sightings could be beneficial. Go the CIA Team Gecko!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The first toad mission this season - Mororo 8/10/10

I was so excited to get back out and see what toads we would find this season, as were quite a few others, I know. The rain stopped for our mission and then started just as we pulled up stumps at 11pm - how cool. The nights are still a little cool, so we were not too sure how many toads we would find, but we went to Mororo to see what we would find.

I spent 2 hours pre-dark taking Dave Newell from SCU on a tour of Mororo toad sites and discussing toads generally in the Clarence Valley and what options we might have for some meaningful research sites and data gathering ideas. I saw his shoulders slumping further as we went on our tour, but it was great to share our experiences with him and talk toads and frogs. Dave said he is going to do some thinking about our situation and get back to me with some ideas. Thanks Dave for your time while on holidays.

Then we met at the Lewis Lane cane pad, where I presented everyone with a spiffy new vest! Thanks Caring for Country, CMA and Landcare!! Sure beats the texta writing and orange garbage bags some of us had last year. I just need to get better at taking photos of Hi-Vis vests at night!

A big crew of 17 meant we could form 3 teams, which was great. Scott, Hannah, Sophie and I were lucky enough to score Dave for a few hours, who gave us some great instructions on how to sex sub-adult toads. we will pass this on next time out in the paddock. Our team hit Banana Rd and then Nicola's and Archie's place on Mororo Rd. We had only 43 toads by the end of this, but I then went to Ben's and scored another 30 (plus 2 dead tortoises who are awaiting dissection).

Kath's team went to Harry's, McCondell Island Rd and then Brian's and picked up a great 58 toads, many juveniles but also some big ones at Harry's. However, the prize for the night, as usual, went to Bevan's rent-a-crowd. This small gun team of Bevan, Rob, Sharon and Bernie picked up a whopping 247 toads on just 2 properties at the end of Lewis Lane. 123 of these were juveniles on Glen's place, but well done guys. Thus, our total for the night was 378. Not bad for our first effort.

It was fabulous to get back out for my exercise and I loved racing around at night in gumboots, with torch, chasing toads. Doesn't everyone?! I know Kath does, but I'm not too sure about Sophie... even lollies failed to raise her fading spirits. Good on you Sophie and Hannah for helping out the Clarence Valley fauna. Keep checking the calendar on the CVCIA website for our next planned toad outing. Cheers, Sharon.

CVCIA AGM - our first meeting without gumboots!!

On Wednesday15th September 2010, the CVCIA had our first ever sit down proper Landcare meeting, in a room, without torches, no cane toads present. I was actually nervous that noone would show up as I had hinted that I was looking to perhaps disperse some of the coordinating load or at least a few jobs on my To Do list. I even had a good friend (and member) say they were not coming as they were worried they would come away with some jobs!

So I was absolutely delighted to have 12 members attend. Some I had only met via email so it was nice to put a face to a few and others I had only met out in the dark covered in mud (Simone sure scrubs up nice!). It was a good mix of cane toadsters and common myna trapsters, and a great opportunity to swap stories about what each group is doing and our objectives.

I gave a run down on state and federal issues re cane toad directions and was pleased to lay these issues out on the table for the whole group to consider. It was also encouraging and lovely to have members overwhelmingly endorse continued toad operations at this point in time. We also discussed the need to stay focused on our tasks at hand (ie. mynas and toads) and to avoid being dragged into other areas when we do not have the resources or time to commit to them. The shell is there though, should someone feel strongly enough about a local issue and want to run with it within the framework of the CVCIA.

I still need to do up the minutes, which will go out to all members, including actions and calls for position nominations, but overall, I was humbled and touched by everyone's support of my original vision. I now feel confident that the CVCIA is a robust Landcare group that will continue should something happen to me.

Thank you everyone. Cheers, Sharon.