Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Koala Survey


Despite rain, wind, rain, storms, and rain for days previously, the NSI Urban Koala Survey 2010 was blessed with a day of sunny skies (and brisk breezes…and a bracing water taxi ride!). Certainly nothing to deter the 50+ volunteers who appeared at Dunwich Cemetery (or Point Lookout) on Saturday, October 16, with hopes of spying some of the local fauna, koalas in particular.

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We divided into groups of at least four people and all scrutinised a delegated portion of Dunwich, Amity Point or Point Lookout for the entire morning. Our little group didn’t actually spot any koalas in ‘our’ bit of Dunwich but several curious locals (no doubt wondering what on earth was so interesting in the trees) assured us there had been koalas around recently & they frequently heard them grunting or fighting at night. We did find koala scratches on trees and some scats & surprised a large goanna and enjoyed wandering – with necks craned and eyes peeled – along Adams Beach and a bush track meandering south from there. We were also fascinated to stumble upon a tiny cemetery seemingly forgotten in the bush, with graves from the lazaret once situated on Adams Beach.

We were impressed on returning to Dunwich cemetery for lunch to have the three koalas, one with a joey, in residence there pointed out. They are NOT easy to spot! Fortunately, our group’s results were not indicative of the koala status of the island’s urban areas.  28 koalas were counted in total – two more than last year, including five females with joeys. Obviously that is only a fraction of the population here and hopefully an encouraging sign of the health of the island’s ecosystems.

Diana McPhee