Naracoorte Bio-Blitzed! and other Citizen Science Events

In recent weeks, the Limestone Coast Landscape Board has partnered with NGT to deliver a couple of fun and educational citizen science events.

First up, back in mid-February we had an event focussed on bats and their food sources for local landholders. Rose and I set out to catch bats and bugs of all shapes and sizes at private land sites to showcase these amazing nocturnal creatures. Both bats and insects are valuable to humans for the ecosystem services they perform.

We set mist nets near a wetland sandwiched between blue gum and pine plantations and native vegetation; a location we have successfully caught bats in the past. As the sun set we observed a bat fly above the group and saw several more flying near our nets later, but alas they avoided capture this time.

For the insects, we set up traps in forest, paddock and wetland environments using ultra-violet lights as the key ingredient. Insects are attracted to UV light and land either on purposely laid out sheets or straight into the trap bucket to hide in amongst protective egg carton.

Insects are attracted to the UV light and can be observed on white sheets surrounding the bucket (photo: Mischa Peters)

Although the bats avoided our nets this time, it was good to see and hear them, and we had plenty to chat about relating to bats in between net checks. On the other hand, the insect world did manage to provide lots of entertainment for the participants and we managed a good haul. Over 50 species of insects came to the lights from 8 insect orders including Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), Hymenoptera (wasps, bees and ants), Coleoptera (beetles), Hemiptera (bugs), Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets and katydids), Diptera (flies), Neuroptera (lacewings) and also Trichoptera (caddisflies). What a fabulous variety from just one evening’s effort. Insects were photographed and/or retained for later identification – stay tuned for more details. Check out this great short video from the Limestone Coast Landscape Board summarising the event.

Secondly, this past weekend, 27-28 March, the Limestone Coast Landscape Board hosted a BioBlitz in the Naracoorte parklands. The event attempted to gather as much information as possible about what creatures call the Naracoorte Parklands home. Joining us at the free, weekend event were also a number of other environmental experts including Dr Liz Reed from Naracoorte Caves, Kris Messenger from Bugs N Slugs, David & Sharlene Miles from South East Snake Awareness (with a live reptile display), Doug Nicholls (local First Nations elder), staff from South Australian Museum Discovery Centre with numerous interactive activities for people of all ages, and of course the Limestone Coast Landscape Board. 

The results from the weekend were very encouraging with seven native mammal species (plus two introduced species), over thirty birds and insect species, two reptiles, and one frog were seen and/or heard during the activities held over the weekend in the parklands. Some creatures that particularly delighted attendees were two species of forest bat captured in harp traps and a sugar glider which was spotted high up in a flowering gum tree. Numerous brushtail possums gawked at us from their stringybark and red gum branches. Towards the end of the evening we played calls of these and other nocturnal animals; the koala turned out to be the scariest of them all!

Two different forest bat species were captured in harp traps (photo: Bryan Haywood)

The following morning, I led a dawn chorus walk which was full of different bird calls. New Holland Honeyeaters dominated the soundscape for most of the hour and a half with brief moments for Eastern Yellow Robin, Peaceful Dove, Spotted Pardalote, Grey Shrike Thrush and several other species.

Kristin from Bugs N Slugs brought along many live insect and arachnid specimens, and captivated visitors to her stall with the fascinating life histories of each. Similarly, attendees were gripped by Dave Miles’ informative chats about and display of reptiles of the South East. Doug Nicholls’ session on the Boandik seasonal calendar and boomerang throwing was a taste of more to come for cultural engagement in the region. Doug’s passion is second to none and his fire stick demonstration was amazing.

Thank you to the Limestone Coast Landscape Board, Doug Nicholls, Kris Messenger, David and Sharlene Miles, Steve, Nancy, Linda and Evan from the SA Discovery Centre, and the host of LCLB staff including Tania, Lu, Tash, Vanessa and Jacqui for a brilliant event.

Bryan Haywood