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