Going in to bat for science

microbat

It’s booked! Excited to announce I’ve signed up for my second research expedition with Earthwatch Australia and this time, it’s an overnighter!

The expedition is called Melbourne’s Microbats, and I’ll be working with a small group of citizen scientists (and one actual scientist) to trap and band these miniature creatures in the Royal Botanical Gardens. We’re doing this to record important data about the bats including their species, sex, age, reproductive stage, food supply and habitat.

Earthwatch says:

Eating up 600 mosquitoes an hour is just one of the ways the tiny, fragile microbat helps keep the balance in our ecosystem.

…Information [gathered on this expedition] will establish baseline data on the community composition and critical habitat requirements of insect-eating bats across greater Melbourne, and it will help us develop ways to conserve their populations.

My booking is for the first week of December and I can’t wait!

Vanderreemain-microbat

microbats
earthwatch logo

Painting the town gold

Some pictures of Golden Wattle in strange morning light. This flowering tree is the official Floral Emblem of Australia, and, at this time of year, you can spot them everywhere – with blossoms ranging in colour from bright, neon yellow to a deep amber hue.

Can you spot the flying insects in the photographs?

Wattles yellow Australia Wattles Australia yellow

Great Forest National Park

Great Forest National Park postcards The Wilderness Society
Doing my bit for the Great Forest National Park initiative. If you’re in inner-city Melbourne, one of these postcards will be appearing in your letterbox soon (possibly delivered by me!). Sign it, drop it in a postbox – no stamp required! – and The Wilderness Society will deliver them all to Premier Napthine and Opposition Leader Andrews.

To find out more about the Great Forest National Park proposal – Melbourne’s newest playground, and safe haven for endangered species like the Leadbeater’s possum – head to the Great Forest National Park website.

Central Highlands

All in the name of science & conservation!

waders citizen scientist earthwatch turtlesYep, that's me - looking as attractive as ever in a pair of waders, smelling 
like 'pond'...

While my one-day Earthwatch expedition was certainly dirty work and more than a little tiring, I had a great time learning from scientist Lee and actively participating in her research with fellow volunteers Emma and Gabriella. Our mission: to gather data on turtle habitat and turtle populations in the greater Melbourne region!

It was an early start, compounded by the fact that we’re still in daylight saving mode here in Melbourne, which meant waking up in total darkness, waiting at the bus stop in total darkness, travelling in total darkness (I am aware that some people do this every day) and waiting at the rendezvous point in – you guessed it – no you didn’t – semi-darkness. 

earthwatch expedition turtles melbourne uni school of botanyFirst to arrive! Showing my supreme eagerness to get the day underway. 

After a quick PowerPoint to bring us up to speed on the project, the vollies split into two groups of three and jumped into a car with one of the scientists. Each team had two sites to monitor; ours were in Mill Park. We spent the day in waders: setting up eight turtle traps, collecting and anlaysing dip-netting samples, assessing the quality of the water and checking and removing the traps.

earthwatch expedition turtles melbourneearthwatch expedition turtles melbourneMy team hard at work
earthwatch expedition turtles melbourne
While my team is hard at work analysing and documenting water samples in the 
background, here I am conducting my own analysis/documentation...

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t catch any turtles – unsurprising perhaps because this is the last day in the season (Earthwatch will run sessions again starting in January). However, the team stationed in Doncaster managed to nab three, which would have each been measured, weighed and tagged. We didn’t come up entirely empty-handed though…have a look at what we found in one of our cathedral nets:

All in all, it was a great day outdoors 🙂

Scientist for a day!

Melbourne freshwater turtle earthwatchLast week, Earthwatch came to my company as part of a volunteer expo, and, inspired by the representatives and the materials they proffered, today I signed up for my first expedition. In mid-March, I’ll be a citizen scientist for a day, collecting data on freshwater turtles with a small group of other volunteers and Earthwatch scientists. $95 well spent!

If you’re interested in signing up for one of these short (one day) volunteer sessions, check out their website. I’ll definitely be doing the microbat one when it’s offered again in November-December!

microbat

Turtles on the Move – Schedule for the day:

07:00 – 07:30 a.m. Overview of research project & safety briefing
07:30 – 08:30 a.m.
Travel to research site 1
08:30 – 10:00 a.m. Set up nets + quick break for morning tea 
10:00 – 12:00 p.m. Travel to research site 2 & set up nets
12:00 – 12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:30 – 02:30 p.m. Travel to research site 1. Conduct dip-netting + habitat assessment (vegetation and water chemistry). Remove nets & process turtles
02:30 – 05:00 p.m. Travel to research site 2. Conduct dip-netting + habitat assessment (vegetation and water chemistry). Remove nets & process turtles
05:00 p.m. Depart field & return to university

Earthwatch Turtle expedition

Volunteering Update

Only three weeks into my New Year’s resolution the ball is rolling so fast I’m struggling to keep in front of it, kinda like this scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark (just imagine I’m Indiana Jones):

You get the picture!

Here’s a quick look at how things are tracking on the volunteer front:

 ♦ Checked a box to say that I’d be interested in volunteering with the Wilderness Society, and was contacted over the phone a few days later for an interview ♦ Went for the interview, where I was given a brief overview of the organisation & the types of volunteer work available in light of my skills and experience ♦ Emailed through my CV and some examples of past communication work ♦ Have been invited to attend an induction day to get a greater understanding of the current campaigns (awaiting date confirmation) ♦  Really hoping that I might get to work on designing some print materials for these guys!

 

♦  Registered to attend the next Wildlife Victoria Information Session, which goes for 2 hrs and outlines the different volunteer roles  ♦  After reading the brief descriptions on their website, I think I want to start by being a Wildlife Volunteer Transporter, for a set period each weekend ♦  One day I’d love to assist with the rehabilitation of wildlife, but as this tends to be a full-time job I think I’d best leave that until the retirement years!

 

♦  One volunteer day already completed at Edgar’s, & the next is in the works! ♦  I also discovered that our local farm (the Collingwood Children’s Farm) accepts volunteers too, so onto the to-do list it goes.