Volunteers gather at Walker Swamp for new Citizen Science project

On Sunday a couple of weeks ago, Lachie and I met with prospective volunteers at Walker Swamp for an initial ‘meet and greet’ afternoon. The event was held as part of the new Grampians citizen science monitoring program, funded by the Victorian Government through the Volunteering Innovation Fund.

Despite the persistent rain, we were delighted to meet with 17 enthusiastic volunteers. The purpose of the day was to allow volunteers to meet one other and become more familiar with the project and the wetland sites. There were some great discussions had, particularly around the monitoring equipment and site selection which will no doubt continue over the coming weeks.

Volunteers included members of the Hamilton Field Naturalists Club, Mirranatwa Landcare Group, Deakin University’s Environmental Club and Hamilton Birdlife. Some volunteers had completed NGT’s 10-week bird course recently run by Greg Kerr and were keen to apply their new skills, while others had local connections to the Grampians (e.g. local property owners), or a broader interest in nature and caring for the environment. It was great to meet people from different backgrounds, and no surprise to hear of their diverse areas of expertise and skills.

Volunteers at Walker Swamp bird hide.

After some afternoon tea, we made our way to the Walker Swamp bird hide, where volunteers became acquainted (or re-acquainted) with the wetland and spent some time looking through their binoculars. While a member of the Hamilton Field Nats shared their bird sightings for the day, others enjoyed the serenity (and wind protection) offered by the viewing tower.  Before finishing up for the afternoon, we took a short drive to Green Swamp, which was also full of bird life.

Volunteers enjoying the bird life at Green Swamp.

Over the coming weeks, we will meet with some of the volunteers again to deploy the monitoring gear across the wetland sites. The first round of data retrievals will take place a month later, and officially kick off the data processing and fauna identification stage of the project.

Thank you to all those volunteers who have expressed interest in this monitoring program. If you would like to learn more, please contact Lauren at the email address below.

The “New Tech Volunteering: Novel citizen science for Grampians wetlands” is supported by the Victorian Government through the Volunteering Innovation Fund.

Lauren Brown