2015 November Trip Report

<i>Acacia ligulata</I> seeds. Photo: David Nelson

Sandhill wattle (Acacia ligulata) seeds. Photo: David Nelson

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As we drove into the small Western-Queensland town of Bedourie on our way to the Simpson Desert at the start of November, we began to wonder if we would make it out to our study site at all. The cars on the main street were plastered with mud, and thick chunks of clay were sliding off the wheel wells onto the street. We’d encountered some rain on the drive already – some out around Nyngan and Bourke, and more as we crossed the Channel Country. It doesn’t take too much to make the dirt roads impassable out there, and it looked like there was some serious rain around. Continue reading

2015 September Trip Report

<I>Ctenophorus nuchalis</I>, Central Netted Dragon. Photo: David Nelson

Ctenophorus nuchalis, Central Netted Dragon. Photo: David Nelson

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The fourth trip of 2015 began, as always, with a three day drive to Ethabuka Reserve. The drive, though familiar to those of us who make the journey regularly, never ceases to impress, as tall trees and green paddocks give way to the dry, brown outback. As well as our two DERG vehicles, we were accompanied by volunteers Jan and Irene in their own vehicle. The rest of the crew consisted of Chris, Aaron, Dave, PhD candidate Kyla, honours candidate Gab, and our volunteers Nancy, Steve, Claire and David. Continue reading

2015 June Trip Report

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Red-capped Robin. Photo: Bobby Tamayo

Red-capped Robin. Photo: Bobby Tamayo

The trapping schedule for the trip was to survey the Main Camp Gidgee grids – five full grids of 36 traps on sand-hills, and a further eight grids of 18 traps located in associated gidgee patches. This is part of an on-going investigation to explore the use of gidgee patches as possible refuge sites, as well as the movements of individual animals between these areas. We also trapped our mallee setup. Continue reading

2015 April Trip Report

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The Crew! Photo: David Nelson

The Crew! Photo: David Nelson

The April desert trip had two parts as a first vehicle left Sydney on 31 March and the other three vehicles departed on 8 April.

Part I

The first morning was spent opening grids for trapping and setting up Stephanie’s GUD (‘Giving Up Density’) experiment. The latter experiment aims to look at the interaction of predation risk with food choice by offering a variety of seeds of varying palatability in different predation contexts (trays in the open and near cover, and across multiple seasons). Peanuts are offered initially, to get the rodents accustomed to the food supply. Stephanie anticipated many peanut takes by the rodents given that food availability is likely to be low during the current dry period in the desert. Continue reading

2015 February Trip Report

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Flowering spinifex on dune. Photo: David Nelson

Flowering spinifex on dune. Photo: David Nelson

With a couple of good rainfall events in western Queensland over December and January, we headed out to the desert in mid-February with high hopes for the trip. Evidence of the rain was everywhere – some of the roads on our route had only opened up about a week before we departed, and some roads in the region were still closed due to flooding. The Cooper Creek at Windorah was flowing. We encountered grasshopper swarms here and there, and Australian Pratincoles dotted the roadsides in large numbers. We even saw a couple of frogs. But had our study sites received any rain? Continue reading

2014 November Trip Report

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A claypan holds a film of water after rain. Photo: David Nelson

A claypan holds a film of water after rain. Photo: David Nelson

As we got out of the air-conditioned vehicles for a break on the drive through the channel country, we exchanged nervous glances as we felt just how incredibly hot the wind blowing into our faces felt. To either the first time volunteers or seasoned desert veterans, the heat was a shock. A record-breaking heat wave was punishing western Queensland at the time, with 11 straight days above 40°. What sort of trip had we committed ourselves to? Continue reading