Local landcarers contributing to science
By Alison Rogers, member of Landcare Soldiers Point – Salamander Bay.
Soldiers Point – Salamander Bay Landcare members have been working in Stoney Ridge Reserve for many years. One of the largest reserves in Port Stephens, it is located on the western side of the Tomaree Peninsula between Cromarty Bay Road and Diemars Road, in Soldiers Point. It is home to the endangered Powerful Owl and is part of a known koala corridor for koalas travelling from Taylors Beach and Mambo Wetlands through to Soldiers Point. Dr Ryan Witt, researcher with The University of Newcastle believes it contains one of the largest koala populations in Port Stephens.
Of particular interest to Landcare members in the reserve are the beautiful spring blossoms. Landcare members have been ensuring these blossoms can grow by clearing noxious weeds, deterring people from dumping rubbish, alerting the council when rubbish has been dumped or other inappropriate activity has occurred.
On a working bee in December 2021 the Landcare members undertook all these tasks and, in addition, made a list of all the possible ways they could contribute in future to keeping the reserve in pristine condition. As part of this list members noted where they had sighted native wildlife.
One of the species of native wildlife that had been spotted previously was a Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). The time, location and behaviour of the echidna was recorded and following the working bee, this information was uploaded to a community science project. The Landcare group was able to send in photos of the echidna along with the data. Future working bees will also be looking for echidna scats.
The Landcare Group meets weekly at various locations across Soldiers Point and Salamander Bay and are always looking for more members to help with community science projects like this. They undertake activities such as weeding, cutting back overgrown areas and planting replacement native species.