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Field Gnats to Mount Rothwell

It took us 18 months to get back to Rothwell and continue this excellent relationship we started back in 2008 (thanks to the great work of Karen S, Glenn O, and Charlie C).

Thank you to Mt Rothwell for all the help they had given us (and animals) to set up our Reserve. The Field Gnats decided we should volunteer to help Annette and her team. March 2009, a small group of adults and students made our first trip and had a fabulous time, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Well, the history continues. Last weekend, a group of 20 current and past students and Kelly Smith, our new Animal Keeper, her son Reef, and myself worked very hard.

We started with a rabbit control presentation and workshop. We learnt all about rabbits' problems on agricultural land and for conservation reserves, how the dogs have been trained to sniff out the rabbits and how to then either fumigate or dig up the warren. The students also learnt about how the rabbits were then used to feed the captive Eastern Quoll and Bush Stone Curlew populations.

The rest of our weekend had us cleaning up 40 breeding pens. The last time we were at Rothwell, they were full of Eastern Barred Bandicoot and five curlews. Now the EBB's are roaming free at Tiverton and able to organise their breeding, and there are 42 Curlew, 10 Quoll (destined for Tiverton this year), and one Easter Bettong – George. We trimmed the shrubs out of the wire rooves and sidewalls, hedged the shrubs, grasses, and sedges within the pens for ease of Keeper access and to clear the doorways, and weeded and mulched the pens – not that easy for the pens with the Curlew who don't like so many human visitors. The pens now look fabulous. The 20 of us spent 8 hours doing this job. I'm so proud of them all for their persistence and commitment to this task.

It wasn't all hard work. We got to walk the Dingoes and had a great walk Saturday night hunting for frogs (Molly and Lucy recorded five species). Spotlighting for marsupials – lots of EBB, Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies, Brush-tailed Possums, Rufous Bettongs, and Easter Quoll were spotted. There was also a huge, curious Barn Owl keeping an eye on us.

Thank you to Rose S, Ava D, Grace A, Rebecca J, Anika G, Annabella C, Milla L, Lily L, Lily C, Allegra M, Brett K and Thomas C (all current students), Molly F (Year 12, 2013), Lucy D (2015) and Alex S and Liam T (2017), and Kelly and Reef Smith. They should be proud of the fantastic way they represented their school.

Thank you also to Dale Crisp, manager at Rothwell, Anika, Sandi, and Andy, part of the regular volunteer team who worked so well with our students.

DR. GARY SIMPSON
Director of the Brian Henderson Wildlife Reserve