It has been 6 1/2 months since the fires went through my parents bushblock. That is an incredibly short time when you consider how ecosystems evolve and function.
It has been a fascinating period. I didnt have emotional or financial investment parents that my parents did, so I’ve been able to detach and just focus on the environmental side of things. It is callous and brutal, I’m aware of that. Severe anxiety means I can compartmentalize parts of my brain without issue.
It has been a crash course in biodiversity. It has been overwhelming. Recently, I realized that there were so many opportunities in terms of how people are monitoring the recovery. I know it’s the type of situation many friends groups of naturalists clubs would be interested in.
This obsession started when my friends told me to look out for fungi and orchids that only grow after fires. That has encouraged me to look closer at other facets of the property. I realized that I’m only monitoring some very small parts of the recovery and started wondering about what else I could do.
This post is me exploring that idea. It isn’t a commitment, nor is it intended to disrespect what has happened. The reality is I’m looking at studying environmental science and this is an opportunity to learn.
What are my goals:
- To document the wildlife that returns for the area. I didn’t make many notes about any animals other then the birds prior to the bushfires, so I have no data to compare it to. However, I think the invertebrate observations would have a lot of potential
- Do what I can to help out native wildlife in the area without impacting on the work my parents want to do there
- Involve Sethy in the process as much as possible
- Set up a tile system for monitoring reptiles. This will require research, especially about safety. May need to get involved with fauna surveying in the local field nats
- Pay particular attention to any fungi and orchids
Priority for the next 18 months:
- Set up the cameras and tile systems. Document this process and the discoveries.
- Look at creating next boxes. Work out costs for this. And monitoring! I’ve already reached out to a couple of people.
What do I want to monitor?
Monitor the birdlife:
his is just continuing what I am doing. Check for any resources about what birdlife to expect in the area at different times, and whether the bushfires change what I need to watch for.
Monitoring native vegetation regrowth
I am going to struggle SO HARD in this area considering I struggle so much with ID’ing plants. I am going to need help here, although I have no real idea of where to start! I’ll start with curating some basic research.
I need to:
- Get more tips on what to look out for. Fungi and orchids have been highlighted. I’d like to create an article about fungi that shows up in Australia after bushfires, and how to identify them.
- Get rid of the bracken? Is this viable over the longer term?
- Just document everything. Organize it but no immediate pressure to identify everything.
Currently my main method has actually been looking at the leaves on the trees to check for ants, leafhoppers and anything else of interest.
Seth changed that in a hurry just by lifting up a few logs.
My new strategy will be to keep a lookout for interesting insects but to change my focus to under logs. Where possible, create some kind of container that facilitates easier photography, as well as look into macro photography. Perhaps even create a key of all the identifiable features I need to photograph for many key species just so I know what I am doing.
Add observations of mammals returning
Add these to an online database.
I’ve already started researching about this. It may end up being expensive as I am not very good with technical things at all.
The first task is to figure out what is especially needed in the area. I’ve contacted the Ballarat Field Naturalist Club for help with this. I’ll then make a list of what I need.
The second task will be to work out the costs. Would local nature groups be willing to help out, or can I get some kind of financial assistance? I wouldn’t mind getting a camera-on-a-pole thingy so we can learn as much from the nest boxes as possible.
I don’t think that this will cost too much, but will definitely be a steep learning curve! I’ll talk to some people in the Geelong Field Nats about this, as well as do some research online.
I hope it isn’t too costly – although I think the up front costs will be worth it for the learning it will provide. Hopefully get some new species for our lists. I’ll need to read up on how to protect ourselves from possible snakes. The other thing is to talk to my parents about the best place to put them. I want somewhere out of the way.
I’ve spoken to my parents about this and mum is keen on the idea. We’ve decided to put one close to the dam. I’m looking at getting four, at a cost of $660. I’d have to borrow the money off Glenn. The data would be fascinating and I’d learn loads.
Brush up on nature ID’ing skills
This is going to be difficult as I’m already extremely overwhelmed. However, I see this as just learning as much as I can about the basics. Know roughly what animal I’m seeing and what features I need to photograph in order to ID it later. Then, either have a particular book or know of a good online resource that can help me out.
Phew! I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed thinking about this, but it isn’t as overwhelming as I thought. The nest box stuff is taking up a lot of headspace right now. I reckon I have a couple of months to figure out the tile system. By the years end, I should easily have everything in place, even if it isn’t done as early as I’d like. 🙂