Saturday morning, 14th October 2017
Leader: Ben Holmes, Facilitators: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Ben Holmes had given a talk the previous evening about his work with the Conservation Volunteers in re-wilding the Little Desert Lodge grounds. In this morning session, he took a group of 23 participants on a walk through various locations to see, and hear about, some of his current projects. The route did not follow the Nature Trail.
Setting off towards Wimpey’s Waterhole in cool conditions he showed us one of the places where pit traps are set to capture small nocturnal mammals and funnel traps are set to trap reptiles during the day. Specially located motion activated cameras are used to detect larger creatures as they pass a particular place. He explained that it is essential to know what fauna already lives on the property before planning for the reintroduction of endangered and other species. He went on to say that there were other trapping sites in different types of habitat throughout the property.
Huge flocks of White-browed Woodswallows flew overhead as Ben led the group past the waterhole through a gate into a revegetated area where there were many attractive flowering plants including Flame Heath, Daphne Heath and Violet Honey-myrtle. Walking up the hill three types of orchid were found in bloom; Pink Fingers, Leopard Orchids and Hooded Caladenias. A Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo calling from a high perch gave everyone a good view.
At the top of the hill the replantings had mainly been Acacias (to provide food for Malleefowl) and Ben showed us where a male (George!) had recently been renovating an old mound. Conditions were now much warmer than earlier as the sun had burned off the mist and, unfortunately, two of the participants were unable to continue the walk. (See separate Incident Report). Ben very kindly fetched a works vehicle and returned them to the Lodge before returning to continue leading the walk.
Lastly, he took us into the Malleefowl Aviary and explained why there are currently none in residence, the last pair having died in unusual circumstances fairly recently. He described the life cycle of the birds and said they were hoping to obtain another pair from other sanctuaries. He also showed us a pair of well camouflaged Bush Stone-curlews and an enclosure in which unseen Sugar Gliders were sleeping.
Ben was warmly thanked and wished all the best for his future endeavours.