This year's local BioBlitz was a ripper, with some unexpected spring sunshine to keep us cheery and the bonus of a photography workshop with nature photojournalist Esther Beaton as icing on the cake.
In case you're not familiar with the BioBlitz concept, it involves a bunch of folks "surveying" a particular area and noting the various species that are spotted. An internet search for 'bioblitz' will show they are held around the world. This one was co-ordinated by the Slopes to Summit partnership within the Great Eastern Ranges initiative and involved a stack of partners and contributors. It was based in Woomargama, with surveys undertaken over three days, in the national park as well as on nearby private property.
A wander in these parts is enjoyable at any time, but this event provides an opportunity to share in the knowledge of the ecologists and specialists who participate ... and you'd be amazed how much more you'll see and how much you can learn by joining in a two-hour survey or two. In addition to surveys, both traps and cameras were also placed in the park with more than a few cute critters captured (and released!) or caught on film. On Friday and Saturday nights, spotlighting surveys also revealed some of the nocturnal residents.
The photography workshop was held at Slate Hill and drew on some of this private property's features, including woodland, orchids and spectacular views. Esther's tips were useful for both beginners and more experienced photographers alike and the four-hour session breezed past quickly as we chatted and clicked and laughed our way along.
Images: Some shots taken during the photography workshop, where we were encouraged to play with perspective, texture and light. Click the image to view more and/or larger pics from the BioBlitz.
It was also a treat to be in a survey group with Esther the next day, and to see her in action in the field photographing people, the landscape and the other species within it.
Nigel Jones and Tiffany Mason from Nature Conservation Trust were on hand to enlighten us on this survey and gave excellent context to the Woomargama Station bush we visited and many of the species we spotted.
For me another highlight was seeing this lace monitor. It climbed one tree but decided we were still too close so it returned down the trunk, ambled along the ground and then up into the relative safety of a much taller tree. Our guess was it was at least 1.2 metres long. We marvelled at the "lace" pattern of its skin and its dinosaur-like features.
Thanks to Sam Niedra from Slopes to Summit, I've also found out that you can view a selection of photos from many participants in the BioBlitz (and nature photography workshop) including some by Esther Beaton on Flickr here.