Saturday, November 19, 2011

Warregah Island Toadbust 18/11/11

What another great roll up of volunteers - thank you everyone! Eleven toadbusters and 5 of those were junior Landcare volunteers!!

Bethany, Tom, Darcy, Isabella and Sam with some of the cane toads they collected themselves Friday night.
My children and I kidnapped the amazing Bethany who was able to guide and mentor my two and newbies Darcy and Sam. Ros was also a first timer and worked out she was very good at spotting toads and then calling for a small child to come and collect it. It all helps Ros and when you have 5 excited children the adults rarely get a look in! I think I picked up 2 toads out of the 142 we collected.

Bevan, Rob, Sharon and Annie went out the west side of the island with one of the landowners and found very few out there. I am very interested in monitoring our impact at Warregah as it is such a small sem-isolated area. Thanks again everyone for your enthusiasm. We did not see our endangered friend again but the good news is we did not find him flat on the road! Get your gumbies ready for a big night at Maclean/Townsend Friday 2nd Dec. Let Jo, Mel or I know if you can come and I look forward to seeing what is going on in this area. Cheers, Sharon.

Darcy with large female cane toad

Sam with the same large female cane toad.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CIA and CVC win Community Action Grant for Common Myna Control

We have just found out that the amazing funding application machine that is Pam was successful in her Community Action Grant application with Clarence Valley Council for Common Myna Control. Over $18,000 has been granted. Well done Pam for all your persistance and hard work. The Clarence Valley Common Mynas are doomed, doomed I say. Mwah ha ha!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

15/10/11 - Let the toadbusting season commence!

With lightning crackling and rain threatening, 3 intrepid toadbusters set off to Warregah Island to celebrate the start of the official CIA toadbust season. As texted to Secret Agent Davidge "we laugh in the face of danger - ba ha ha!"

It was so nice to catch up with the landholders and they all provided so much support and local information over the phone and on the night. Matt G and Reid from USYD came along to observe Bevan, Ant and I as we bagged 78 cane toads for the night. It was a little hard not to feel like a lab rat a few times!

The best score for the night was finding an endangered frog - absolutely jaw dropping.
Giant Barred Frog (Mixophyes iteratus) - endangered in NSW.

We suspect this big frog took a wrong turn at the bridge.
We also found a Barn Owl on Chatsworth Island on the way home. I love getting out at night!
Barn Owl on Chatsworth Island
So, a little cool still but we would like to think we took a few toads out that were stretching their flippers and thinking about getting up to no good for the night. See you at Brooms Head Friday night! Cheers, Sharon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

10/09/11 - Info Stall at Maclean Markets

The amazing Nobles and Pam travelled to Maclean Saturday 10th September to spread teh word about CVCIA myna control and trapping options. As you can see, they have set up a great display (thanks Marty and Gina!). Come along and say hello to the travelling Nobles - check the website calendar for upcoming market dates. Cheers, Sharon.
Kevin Noble & Pam Kenway talk to the public about the trouble with invasive animals.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

CIA Toadbusters plot their attack in Maclean

Last Saturday the CIA toadbusters had a lunch and strategy meeting about cane toad operations for the upcoming season. Firstly, we had to all introduce ourselves as without the mud, headlamps and gumboots, we did not recognise each other! Mel's hair is LOVELY!

It was a wonderful meeting and we now have a clear, focused direction of attack this season. We are going to focus on (1) Woombah, (2) Lower Mororo, (3) Warregah/Ashby, (4) Maclean-Brooms Head and (5) Angouire if we can get there. I'm hoping I can talk a certain Angourie member into driving ops there this season. While there are other areas of toad infestation, it is just not possible for us to get everywhere and these areas are thought to be the most critical and will achieve the most conservation gain.

I left feeling positive and very appreciative of the other volunteers' support and commitment. We will officially start toad ops in October, but Mel and Jo were so keen to get going I think they may have already been out when the rain stopped!

Keep an eye on the website for toad bust dates and see you in the swamp!

Cheers, Sharon.

Trappers close the door on mynas

Woo hoo!! 1011 Common Mynas trapped in the Clarence Valley so far this year. Well done everyone and I think the coordinated efforts and organisation of the amazing Laura are paying off.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CV Trappers exceed 800 mynas trapped so far this year!

Trappers in the Clarence Valley who are helping to control the invasive Common Myna have just passed the 800 birds trapped so far for 2011. Late last year, CVCIA Landcare offered to assist Clarence Valley Council to manage the trap distribution, support trappers in the valley and record data. 838 birds have been trapped and disposed of humanely so far in 2011.

Common Mynas crowded around a CIA Landcare trap.
A small band of CIA volunteers, led admirably by CIA Myna Trap Coordinator, Laura Noble, have overseen trap rejuvenation and helped to support and coordinate local trapping efforts. Trapped numbers are collected by CIA volunteers at the end of each month and recorded on the CVCIA Landcare website .

The CVCIA website now has interactive maps showing where large numbers of the birds have been sighted and where trapping has been successful. Common Myna sightings and trap efforts can easily be reported through a form on the website, by email to or to the CVCIA Landcare central number 0411 020 394.

CVC have supplied a small amount of funding to pay for wire as there are still not enough traps to go out to people in the valley wanting to trap. If you are interested in trapping mynas or if you are able to help build traps, please contact CVCIA Landcare on 0411 020 394.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Always the bridesmaid...

Bevan, Laura, Kevin and I attended the inaugrual Clarence Valley Council Sustainability awards yesterday. It was a lovely morning tea and presentation and the CVCIA Landcare group received a Highly Commended award for the group section, pipped at the post by the amazing Wooli Public School.
Two of our amazing volunteers, Laura and Bevan holding what could be anything but are in fact our certificates for contributing to the sustainability of the Clarence Valley.
There were about 7 applicants in the section so second was a lovely recognition for all of the hard work we all do. Well done to all CIA volunteers! You are making a difference. Cheers, Sharon.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

29/07/11 - a cold night for toading!

Well Dr Matt wanted to go out in July to see if there were any cane toads active. I told him to pack his beanie! It was quite cold, but not as bad as I thought it was going to be. The dew did settle on us though as we toured around looking for toads. And did we see any cane toads? One poor juvenile and blow me down if it didn't have a manicure!! This means it was one of the few that Matt, Chris and I had toeclipped a few months ago. Unbelieveable!

We also heard and saw 3 species of native frogs who were very cold and thus allowed us to take their pictures easily enough. A fun night. I look forward to working more with the researchers in the field.

Dainty Green Tree Frog, Litoria gracilenta
Whirring Tree Frog, Litoria revelata
Peron's Tree Frog, Litoria peronii

Then on the way home, I saw my local Rufous Bettong AND I had my camera! It is so awesome getting out at night. Cheers, Sharon.

Gotcha! My local Rufous Bettong. Now Greg will believe me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

6/05/11 - Warregah Island toadbusting in the freezer!

Five brave volunteer souls trekked out to Warregah Island for the last time this season to see how the toads were going. One word answer - cold!!

Yes, while Rob, Sharon D, Ant, Beth and myself donned jumpers and gloves, Bevan chose to go the Radiators concert. However, we picked up 309 toads, all except 4 of which were juveniles and they were so cold. They had difficulty moving and were all up around houses and in vege gardens.
How cool is this girl? Bethany braves the cold (and takes another stunning photo).
The fabulous Graham (local landowner) took us out in the farm ute (with a step ladder to get in and out - what service!) and I nabbed one unlucky male sitting in the vegetation along the drains. My theory is that the larger toads have hunkered down in moist places and slowing down but the juveniles need to come out to feed as they have little reserves. Graham said the ground was moving a few weeks ago with metamorphs so these guys were obviously trying to pack on the pounds before winter. Hopefully many will dessicate and there are at least 309 less of them!

Rob casually mentioned it was his 60th birthday, so what dedication? At least he comes out on his birthday as well as Caroles! We will need to reassess whether we go out to Mororo next week. I will make a decision this weekend. Keep an eye on the calendar and watch for a dinner/stars fun night I want to raise at the meeting tonight (no killing anything involved).

Cheers, Sharon.

1/05/11 - Cane Toad Field Day

The inaugrual cane toad field day was a resounding success with approximately 30 people turning up to hear me blab on about cane toads and what landowners can do to reduce the incidence of breeding in farm dams and other waterbodies. I was able to demonstrate exclusion fencing (thanks to my husband!) and talked about all of the control methods available from manual control, to traps and even Hopstop.
Sharon Lehman points out the characteristics of this farm dam that makes it favoured by cane toads in the area.
After my talk, Dr Matt Greenlees gave a spiel on the latest research findings and what they want to do in NSW over the next five years. This really added to the day and everyone commented how interesting Matt's talk was. This gave hope to farmers that there are people working on the research side of things.

After Matt's talk we trekked around the 3 dams on Nicola and Gio's farm and discussed the features of each which made them ideal or not ideal for cane toad breeding. CVCIA volunteers have been visiting this property for over 3 years so we have a great deal of data from the area. Gio and Nicola also do many nights toad collecting and their knowledge of the dams was invaluable.
Clarence Landcare CSO Julie Mousley talks about vegetation that might be suitable for planting around farm dams to hinder cane toad breeding.
After the walk Julie Mousley showed everyone the vegetation that might be suitable for planting or retaining around dams or other waterways to reduce the success of cane toads breeding. Overall, I think the day went fabulously! Many thanks to Bevan and Rob who turned up early to help set up (legends), Julie for helping me organise it and doing so much, Dell for sorting out the lunches and Louise for washing everything up! And many thanks to Nic and Gio for letting us hold the day there. Gio added some wonderful humour to the day and I look forward to doing more of these across the Clarence.

Friday 29/04/11 - Research Trip with USYD Team

On Friday 29th April I took Dr Matt Greenlees and Chris for a tour of some local landowners and dams in the Mororo area. It was a little cold and Matt thought perhaps we had done TOO good a job in some areas as we visited dams I professed to be full of toads and found very few.

Matt showed me the correct way to measure a toad - snout to urostyle.
However, Harry's dam did not let us down and we captured quite a few toads, gave them a manicure and then let them go! I know, it was hard, but I learnt a heap and it got me thinking about next season. Hmmm...
We all got very wet - all in the name of research.
NB. I'm inside the car keeping the notepad & camera dry - very important job! 

Myna trappers surpass the 500 mark

Well done everyone - 514 Common Mynas trapped so far this year. A great effort and thanks to Laura, Kevin, Pam, Mick, Bevan, Scott and everyone else who is working hard to pull this all together.

Cheers, Sharon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Intersting Bycatch in Myna Trap at Byron

Wendy Gibney, Invasive Species Officer at Byron has been catching a number of other species in myna traps, including:
  • Carpet Python
  • Blue Tongue Lizard
  • Water Dragon
  • Dusky Moorhens
  • Crested Pigeons
  • Noisy Miners
  • Rats
  • Cane toads
  • and finally....
a cat!
Puss in cage. Photo: Peter Gibney

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Find out how to keep cane toads out of your farm dams and fish ponds.
When:  Sunday 1st May 2011
Where: Cervalli's Place
            267a Mororo Rd, Mororo
Time:   10am - 12 noon (followed by cold lunch).
            BYO chair!

Come along to this exciting field day to hear talks by CIA toad coordinator Sharon Lehman and Clarence Landcare CSO Julie Mousley on topics such as:
  • How to reduce the breeding success of toads on your property
  • Control methods and options for cane toads
  • Vegetation suitable to hinder toad movement
  • Tour of 3 dams, find out which dams are more likely to be used by toads and why
  • Hear about the launch of the exciting new CVCIA Landcare Toad Target Property Project
  • Time provided for questions and to hear from other property managers
  • Suitable for any resident, landholder or property manager. All welcome.

Please RSVP for catering purposes to CVCIA Landcare on 0411 020 394 or See you all there! Cheers, Sharon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Top Myna trappers so far this year

Frederick, our Myna Data Collection Officer, has reported that the top three Common Myna trappers so far this year are:
  1. Bevan (I'll kill anything non-native) Pugh - 187 mynas
  2. Graham Wilson - 70 mynas
  3. Pop Austin - 42 mynas
Great effort guys! Keep that data coming. Cheers Sharon.

Mynas crowded around Bevan's trap fighting each other to get in.
Captured on Scoutguard camera.

15/4/11 - Mororo Toad bust

Rob, Bevan and I headed out on a cloudy Friday night. Rob has been itching to get back to Glen's dams at Mororo and we were not disappointed (re toad numbers that is). First we headed up to Nicola's and checked the 3 dams. This is sort of an unofficial research site for us now and the site of our landholder cane toad field day in a fortnight, so it was good to see what was going on. no toads in the house dam, tadpoles and two toads in the shed dam but we snagged 12 males out of the bottom dam.

We then picked up a few off Peter's place, especially around the shed, but from the entrance road into Peter's and the road, orchard and bottom dam of Glen's we bagged over 350 toads. Bevan caught this big guy below (look how happy he is) and all up we bagged 422 toads. The cool nights have not affected our tough Mororo toads yet!

Bevan is over the moon about catching this big boy - 325g of toad.
This has tipped CIA over the 4,000 toads picked up this season, and the entire tally has just tipped 10,000 toads (with Yamba roundup, NPWS, landowner and Russell all combined). Well done guys.

Only a few more toadbusts to go this season (check the calendar) but all my energy focused right now on our Landholder Cane Toad Field Day Sunday 1st May - all welcome. RSVP to . Cheers, Sharon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

9/4/11 - Brooms Head Family Toad Night

Well Brooms Head Family Toad night was well promoted in the media and locally at Brooms Head but we still only picked up two local lads for the night - Tom and Brock. But these guys made up for the lack of interest from the rest of the community and I predict they are going to be great toadbusters into the future!

Mel and I did our bit for "family toad night" by dragging the rest of our households out and Rob had a particularly anti-family night by coming out on the night of Carol's birthday! I chidded him suitably Carol (even I am not that keen!).

Tom, Rob, Brock, Izzy, Steph and Tom enjoyed family toad night.
We hit the village hard and found water lying in places I have never seen it lying before. People welcomed us into their yards (thanks Brooms Head!) and others praised our efforts. Rob, Tom, Brock and I did a trip up Sandon Rd and found a large male right up near wire fence gate, which is quite concerning.

Funniest moment of my night was when we found a roadside culvert on Sandon Rd with a male floating in it. We were trying to work out to get at him without getting wet when Rob started telling us he could see eels in the water. Tom, Brock and I were squinting saying "where?". "There!" he kept calling, "baby eels". They were leeches. Needless to say I did not get in, but we got the toad.

All in all we bagged 128 toads and really mucked up some male toads' night by dragging them mid-croak from ponds. It was lovely to only have to drive 2 km back to our campsite at LA and have a glass of wine with my hubby around the campfire. Family night is the best!

Friday, April 1, 2011

01/04/11 - The Northern NSW Landcare Awards

What a fabulous day - the Northern NSW Landcare Awards.

Well, we came second in the Community Group award today for Northern NSW Landcare Awards. That's pretty awesome considering the competition and we have only been a Landcare group for 2 years (well done to all our wonderful CIA volunteers). I could not believe how excited I was - I even put on makeup! That's a once in a year event. Laura cursed me for having to wear shoes that were gorgeous, yet painful.

Over 100 people attended the Northern NSW Landcare Awards
But the star of the day was our young Bethany - the only Clarence recipient of an award today - well done Bethany - you are a star!! I had a tear in my eye and Ant said he was unable to speak as he was all choked up. That made my day.

Bethany recieves her award for Junior Landcare Leader Northern NSW.
Laura, Kevin, Pop and Deb P came along to cheer Bethany on and I saw Kevin, Laura and Pop leave, then mysteriously reappear when dessert was announced! As always, I love hanging out with CIA members.

The fabulous Laura, Kevin and Pop
I was a little disappointed we did not win (I am finding red wine eases the pain slightly) but mostly because I wanted to get up and thank the fabulous Clarence Landcare crew (Julie, Deb and Sue) who have welcomed the kooky and unusual CIA group to their family with open arms and incredible enthusiasm. You guys are the best. Lastly, thanks again to all the fabulous CIA volunteers and members. Even if you are not out there picking up toads and trapping mynas, we appreciate your support and know you are there - thank you. Cheers, Sharon. 
All the winners - well done Bethany!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another day donated to conservation....

Well, I spent today power walking the Yamba Golf Course hunting for metamorphs with two lovely researchers from the University of Sydney. We only found 3 metamorphs there! No need to go to the gym this afternoon. Then we headed down to good ol' Green Pools at Angourie and sure enough, found a heap of metamorphs for their study.

Hunting for metamorphs with Weibke and Mitchell today.
Another example of how CVCIA Landcare's knowledge of the area can really help in the bigger scheme of things. This adds weight to my letter to all toadbusters yesterday "Ten reasons to keep going". Cheers, Sharon. P.S. to add to my complete loss of dignity this week, I did a spectacular slip over onto my stomach in front of Mitchell on the golf course. Had to pick my kids up from school covered in mud. Nice.

Yay we made the paper today!

Well done Mel! Your toad in downtown Maclean made the papers print our call for more volunteers. Thanks Daily Examiner (though please ignore the part about a toad hunt this Saturday at Lake Arragan - they made a mistake). Cheers, Sharon.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cane toad found in downtown Maclean

Two weeks ago I sent out a media release saying if we did not get any more help, there would be cane toads hopping down the main streets of Maclean and Iluka within a few years. Unfortunately, my media release did not get a run (something about some election or other) and we are still struggling to get more volunteers.

Well, the toads got the hop on me. On the way home from toading Friday night at Mororo, Mel found a sub-adult cane toad in downtown Maclean, Rannoch Avenue. A little sooner than I thought, but hopefully people in Maclean may now be inspired to get out and give us a hand.

CIA volunteers are struggling to reduce the spread
of cane toads in the Clarence Valley.
More information on how to join the CIA and/or control cane toads humanely can be found on the CVCIA Landcare website.

Mororo Toadbust - 25/03/11

Ten volunteers turned up for Friday night toading at Mororo, including 3 newbies, which was fabulous. We were suitably entertained all night by the amazing Campbell - 6 years old and a fantastic toadbuster!

Campbell was amazing for his first night out toading!
We headed down McCondell Island Rd again to the half moon wetland with waders. We picked up two new toadbusters in their waders on the way:- Billy Bob and Jethro....
Billy Bob has the sack wrapped around him to stop the Hi-Vis glare.
We actually look like the rat sisters...

Billy Bob makes Jethro crack up.
As I said to Mel (who tried to take these photos while we clowned around), it is just lucky that Jo and I have no dignity left! Jo's waders were nice and loose. Mine were not. Mel had to assist me to slip into my waders and I wished I had bought some olive oil. However, they did the trick (and made us laugh for hours) and we were able to get into the deeper water and retrieve those pesky males floating around looking for love.

At the end of the night we had bagged 193 toads, including 2 between the wetland and the gate to Chatsworth SCA. Thank you to all the Sharon's (3 of us) and Mel's (2 of them), Bevan, Bernie, the gorgeous Annie, Jo and of course Campbell. We had a ball and helped the environment. Sweet.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

21/03/11 - Townsend Tiger Snakes and a bucket of toads

This fabulous report (and disturbing photo!) from Jo of the Townsend Tigersnakes...

Since the wet weather has been hampering our toading activities we decided on a new game plan - RAINCOATS !! We are now armed for all toading situations.

Wednesday night Mel and I headed out to Yamba to see what was out and about. The sewer works road was fruitful with many morphs popping up out of the grass into the light. The best toad of the night was on Middle Rd Palmers with a 330gm female bagged late in the night. In all we collected 49 toads that night.

Saturday night saw plenty of rain cancel the training session so we donned our raincoats and went out anyway. Mel, Julie and I did a lap of the Red Cliff area and came up with a whopping 315 toads which is a new record for us in one night.

Cane toads collected from Yuraygir National Park by CIA Vol Jo, Mel and Julie.
There were dozens of males in the water staking their patch to call in the ladies. We just put a dampener on their plans as they now have a one way ticket to Freezer Island. It was also lovely to see so much native frog spawn in many of the water holes and no toad spawn : ) also a beautiful juvenile carpet python popped out of the bushes.

Cheers, Jo

P.S. We have caught 997 toads in 5 weeks guys – YAY!!

Thanks Jo. You guys are amazing!! And yes, I will be packing my waders for this Friday at Mororo. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

16/03/11 - Myna Network meeting in Coffs

Laura, Kevin, Pam and Pop headed down to Bongil to visit the Coffs myna trappers today. Pam sent through this report and lovely photos:

"Had a great day at the Indian Myna meeting/barbeque at Bongil National Park today. Good to share stories on Mynas and see that we 'newcomers' were able to show the other groups a good idea with the water bottle setup".

Kevin and Laura at Bongil
Laura demonstrating the water clip.
Pop swapping myna trapping stories at Bongil.
Sharing ideas and tips is very important for any invasive animal control program. Thanks for representing us in style guys and I look forward to hearing about it at the next meeting. Cheers, Sharon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What Bevan and Donna caught in their myna trap this week...

A massive Blue Tongue Lizard! Lucky these traps are non-lethal. He followed Donna while she took some photos. Cute!

Friday, March 11, 2011

More Myna Inventions

I am constantly amazed at how innovative some of our members are - they have a problem and work out a solution. Here are some more photos of cheap and easy myna feeders, including one by Pam's partner which stops the food getting wet. Also note the cheap water bottle in one of kevin's clips. Make sure you guys take your inventions to next Wednesday's show and tell in Coffs Harbour. Cheers, Sharon.
Note the little awning over the food opening.
softdrink bottle for water and clip.

Angourie toadbust - 11/03/11

What a night! We had two new toadbusters which was great as Imelda knew all of the secret pathways at Angourie. Best of all, we saw 4 carpet pythons, 3 of which were gorgeous little babies. I saw a bush stone curlew and nearly fell off my perch!

Up close and personal with a baby carpet python
Oh yeah, the toads. Well, six of us bagged 117 toads for the night and as a reward for good behaviour, I released Bevan, Rob and Sharon R at Yamba Sportsgrounds and let them collect 51 toads in 30 minutes.
Large female toad caught at Angourie
Hope to see you next saturday night! Sharon L.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

6/03/11 - Myna display at Halfway Creek Markets

Last Sunday Laura, our Myna Trap Coordinator, set up a CIA Common Myna information table at her local markets (as if she isn't doing enough!). Here is her report and some lovely photos:
Most visitors, who came to the Halfway Creek markets on Sunday 6th March, showed interest in the trap even if only out of curiosity. Some took the CIA’s details including one who wanted plans so he could build his own trap. Mynas don’t seem to be prevalent here (flocks just fly through the area, not stopping long) and we would agree with this having caught only a few in the last year.  We discussed the use of callers, bird care, what food to use and disposal of trapped birds.

Laura and friends with an information stall at the Halfway Creek Markets.

Best practice cages shown at the local market. Note the clever use of an upside down cocky cage!

Woombah Wildcats - 04/03/11

Bob and Marie trekked out last Friday and in one small section of Woombah, picked up 86 cane toads in under 3 hours. They found some big animals too, as can be seen by these photos. Thanks Bob and Marie.
A large female at Woombah - and she's packin' venom!
It is concerning to see so many toads in Woombah.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Myna Bottle Clip - Kevin's bright idea

I saw a very snazzy clip that Kevin had made for a myna cage the other day and he has sent me some photos and details.

"attached is the water bottle drawing (courtesy of CIMAG) and photos of my water bottle. I fiiled it with pink water and marked around the opening so it is visible. I cut 50mm length of 90mm plastic storm water pipe, then cut out 25mm and trimmed the corners. Two sets of two holes and a bit of wire tie it to the corner of the cage 75-100mm up. This a good holder and the bottle is easy to insert or remove. I'm also experimenting with something similar for food, will keep you posted".

Remember to send any good ideas you get (and there are heaps!) so we can put it on the blog for everyone. Thanks for sharing Kevin.

Cheers, Sharon.