Friday 5-7 January 2007 – Jasper Gorge and Kidman Springs
We arrived at Jasper Gorge campground approximately 10:30pm on a dry night. As we pulled off the Buchanan Hwy, we saw two medium sized toads sitting on the track at the first dip which we ran over. An hour later we observed these toads being consumed by ants. We checked these in the morning to see whether there had been any affect on the ants from the toad’s poison but this appeared to be negative. From 11:30pm we spent a couple of hours toad hunting. In all, we picked up 7 toads, 4 males and 3 females averaging 12 cm in length. They were all found on the track in to the campground and just off to the south side of the track heading towards the derelict cars. No toads, metamorphs or eggs were found along the creek’s foreshore either that night or the next morning.
Regarding native wildlife, there appeared to be similar diversity to that which we observed several months prior. This included 4 or 5 fresh water crocodiles of various ages in the main lagoon at the campground, Whistling Kites, small Hawks and Kingfishers.
The following morning we explored up and downstream of Jasper Creek from the crossing on the Buchanan Highway. Not a great deal of water was present in the creek (mainly shallow waterholes in this area) and there was no sign of toads. We did see many tadpoles which were identified as native.
We moved on to Serpentine Creek where we observed plentiful wildlife around a waterhole. Again Whistling Kites, small Hawks, Kingfishers, Night Herons, monitors and lizards.
We joined the main toadbusting group at Dashwood Crossing, Victoria River Downs Station in the afternoon and this toadbusting activity is described in the report of others.
The following day torrential rain forced us to abandon plans to take the back road to Kidman Springs so we returned via the Buchanan Highway and as the rain stopped we decided to visit the Springs from the other end. No sign of toads, metamorphs or eggs. Not much sign of native wildlife but it was the middle of the day and exceptionally hot.
Even though dusk was falling as we returned down the Buchanan towards Victoria Highway and there was plenty of water on the road, we saw no more than half a dozen toads. From Timber Creek onwards we saw around 20 toads on the Victoria Highway, nearly all male and averaging 10cm in length. There were also many native toads (possibly Great Burrowing) on the Highway but we soon noticed their reflection in the headlights was much lighter than the cane toads in addition to being smaller and not sitting up in that distinctive cane toad manner.
Just to generate discussion we are reporting some of our conversation during the weekend. Other animals abort pregnancy because of all sorts of reasons; extreme dry conditions, lack of food, heat exhaustion, injury etc. Could we upset the pregnancy of the female cane toad in some way? Maybe a rate of insecticide diluted to the extent that it would do little or no damage to other aquatic/semi-aquatic life would have some effect on the pregnancy. In addition, how much notice should we be taking of organisms that ingest cane toads and appear to suffer no ill effects, like ants? Or do they know to avoid the poison glands. Are there any research scientists currently working in this field and can we assist with our observations?
Auvernge Station Highway Reconnaissance
19th and 20th January 2007
I arrived at the East Baines about half an hour before sunset allowing me to check the table drains in the area for tadpoles and metamorphs. Both sides of the bridge were clear from either. A large storm front was heading my direction and hit me just on dark with some ferocity. I sheltered in the car for about twenty minutes until it had passed. When these thunderstorms are dropping bolts of lightning, the best and safest place to be is in the car.
This was good timing as it brings all manner of life onto the highway, including the toad as it favours open terrain for hunting and migrating.
It was now dark and the rain had set in as a fine drizzle so I decided check the highway from the East Baines River back towards Timber Creek as the weather was perfect for toad activity. The first toad I picked up was about six kilometres east of the river and was an average size male. By the time I reached Alpha Creek I had two more in the bag. From Alpha Creek to Sandy Creek the toad numbers increased to one about every two or three kilometres.
After Sandy Creek the numbers dwindled for a few kilometres until reaching the Gregory Tree area. Where numbers increased again all the way through to the Bradshaw Bridge, where I meet up with Dean and Sharon. They were busting in the opposite direction along the highway. So we pulled up and had smoko and exchanged information on the night’s proceedings.
They mentioned they had come across a small section of fence that had been modified by Stop the Toad in an attempt to create a toad barrier. I was keen to have a look so I agreed to meet Dean and Sharon there in half an hour. I headed off for a short drive towards the township of Timber Creek to get mobile reception.
This allows me to hook up to the Internet and then check the rain radar. As it is common this time of the year for creeks and rivers to rise quickly cutting us off from returning home to Kununurra, I make the most of such technological advances at every opportunity. I then headed back to the Gregory Tree, passing Dean and Sharon who were still busting the highway as they moved west.
I pulled in at the information bay on the Gregory Tree Road and waited for the others to catch up. Whilst checking the area for toads I heard a male calling just off the highway. I followed the call and only about fifty metres in I found an old gravel pit holding a large pool of water. I quickly grabbed six toads and not having a bag on me, I went back to the car to grab one. Whilst their Dean and Co arrived, so we went and had a look at STT’s barrier before grabbing the remaining toads from the old gravel pit.
They had used an existing fence line for about fifty metres and added a tight weave shade cloth to the lower half. The bottom edge of the shade cloth was then buried obviously to lessen the chance of toads getting under the fence. This has also pulled the cloth very tight leaving it vulnerable to tearing especially when the harsh tropical sun starts to break it down.
The Shade cloth prevents any other animals including invertebrate’s passage through such a barrier. Finding a dead snake along this fence on the same night illustrates why a great deal more thinking is required for a successful low impact barrier. If we have to have an impact on natives in one small area from such barriers or other similar measures, in turn allowing us to save the larger, yet unaffected area. This seems a small sacrifice but to achieve a barrier with the least amount of impact is the best solution.
After inspecting the barrier I checked the road down to the Gregory Tree finding another six toads down this stretch whilst Dean and Co cleaned the toads up around the gravel pit. They then headed Back to Timber Ck whilst I made my way back to the East Baines River . Using the Quad I Checked the highway-heading west towards King Billabong. About six hundred metres before the bridge at K B I found one lonely female toad. I checked another five kilometres west from K B with no more toads to report of.
It was now past two o’clock in the morning and after loading up the quad bike, I decided to make my way home. Thanks to Auvernge managers Roz and Alan for granting us access to their station.
Report By Dave Woods
29 th and 30 th September 2007
Crew: Chad Sloane and Dave Woods
Chad and I arrived mid Saturday afternoon at Nap Springs, a permanent freshwater system, roughly 15km west of the Victoria River . We needed to check to see if toads had migrated into this area over the last wet season.
We unpacked and began a daytime search for toads along Nap Springs Creek. We couldn’t find any sign of cane toad activity in this area. So far so good!
After dinner and nightfall we rechecked the area and still found no toads. We then travelled east towards the Victoria River to check the two next unnamed creeks. Both of these came up clear of toads.
Time was at a premium as we had king tides to deal with. As far as we could ascertain toads had not made it onto Legune Station yet, with this being the most likely area they would appear first, so it is good news. As there populations are building up on Bullo River Station to the south and Bradshaw Station on the eastern side of the Victoria River , it is just a matter of time before they end up on Legune Station.
We made it back to camp just in time as the high tide nearly cut us off at one of the creeks. Never underestimate how quickly the tide rises in this country.
After a good nights sleep we headed upstream into Nap Springs to check the area around the base of the range. Again no evidence of toads was found. Just before lunch we began making our way home.
After work on Friday, John and I departed Kununurra by approximately 5.30pm and made our way to the Rooster Creek Paddock on Auvergne Station. Our recon work from the 2 weeks prior gave us a clear indication of what our objectives were.
On the way to our camp we stopped at the Turkey’s Nest a few kilometres past Bullo Station gate (off the highway on the left). Here we heard toads calling, of which we hadn’t heard two weeks prior. We collected 27 toads here, which were mostly found in the water. On our way to our campsite on Rooster Creek, we bagged 3 more toads. We set up camp, had dinner and went to bed. Tomorrow was to be a big day.
Saturday morning we woke up early and started our recon up Rooster Creek to locations we had GPS’d by helicopter 2 weeks prior.
We noted that recent rain had created new puddles and waterholes, but found none to have any toad activity. After negotiating the maze of tributaries and steep banks we located our main reference point T45, which we removed approximately 400 tadpoles from (there was no noted toad or toadlet activity here during the day). After half a day of quading in 40-degree heat we decided to head back to camp and checked water holes and puddles along the way. As the temperatures being to soar so did my allergy and I broke out in a complete body rash. This put me out for the arvo so I slept -as did John, who never passes up the opportunity to have a nanna nap.
After waking and feeling only mildly better, John advised me he was off to check out the spring at the jump up towards Bullo Station. No toad activity was found here. Once the sun had set, my rash had subsided and as I made some dinner John re-visited the Turkeys Nest and bagged another 31 toads. He noted that the pan on the left side (closest to the road) had the most toads collected that night. After dinner we took the quads out and made our way along side the highway towards Kununurra checking every culvert, creek and puddle for toad activity. No activity was found until a dam on the southern side of the highway (1 km east of Googlie Holes) where we bagged a total of 18 toads, most of which were amplexing. We returned back to camp stopping one last time at the Turkeys Nest were we collected a further 13 toads.
By this time (3am WDST) we decided to head back to camp and get some more sleep.
We woke on Sunday packed up our gear and headed back towards Saddle Creek and Desmond’s Passage to attempt to find a quicker way up to the headwaters of Rooster Creek. We located a gate and parked the cars to set off on the quads before it got too hot as the day was already fining up to be a nasty hot one! The terrain was rocky but we made good time all the same and found no activity in a small puddle at the headwaters of Rooster Creek. We returned to the vehicles to make our way home with all objectives achieved. Further visits of the Googlie Holes area and Turkeys Nest on Bullo Station Road should be planned soon.
Report by Donna Cavlovic
FILM DOCO PROSPERO FILM CO
On the weekend of the 10 th November our adventurous toad busting crew headed out to King Billabong to bust toads for a doco with Bruce George the Snake Buster from Animal Planet (on Foxtel TV so the kids tell us, they all new him)none of the adults did. There were 55 volunteers in all and most of them did not know about the movie, so this was an excellent turn up for the week end.
We left Kununurra late AM as it was not easy chasing up everyone and working with the film crew to get on the move but it did not take Toadbusters long to realise what was needed for the doco and all worked well, Bruce George jumped on the bus with the kids for a while they thought this was great and he went to a lot of effort to meet and include everyone there, we made the East Baines River fairly late but got straight into the work a great team effort. Tom Breig rode his motorbike out and met us there and Maryanne Winton and the Darlu mob caught up with us at Bullo Community, Glen and Carol also caught up with us out at the camp.
We started off with setting up the camp with the film crew watching all moves, then set up the camp for them as well , I don’t think they had ever been in a swag before (the expressions told all) then the safety and educational talks and young Steve Pearce did this extremely well, what a lad he is, then Sarah Brett finished with the toad info needed for all the new comers, we then gave some talk on station protocol . Then we all enjoyed salad rolls for lunch.
I, as in Ronnie theField Co-ord thought the logistics of shuffling 55 volunteers around the country would be a night mare, I was wrong as they would have been the most cooperative mob I have come across. Thanks to you all, Toad busters what a great mob, the patients with the film crew and the take and retakes were slow and painful but never a complaint, well done.
We split the team for the afternoon and took a small group down to spray metamorphs and taodpoles with the film crew in the scrapes , as it was over 40 the rest of the mob went for a cool off in the East Baines River (with caution to the crocs)
We decided after dark and a great hamburger dinner ( thanks to Arlene for preparation and the men for cooking it)we would herd everyone onto the vehicles and head off to King Billabong, 55 toadbusters wandering across the billabong in their reflector jackets was quite a sight and guess what, we all unload only to find very few toads, amazing the hard work by all is paying off, we then head down to the King Billabong tanks for a look and picked up quite a few toads, Dave and Bruce were on the quad bikes half the crew and film crew checked the tank and the rest of us scattered across the paddock to check as well for the huge number of people were a little too much for the size of the water tank to all work together. We then headed down to the scrapes but Dave took the lead and reported not enough there either for such a large group so we headed back to Bullo Community to bust their water hole, we got over 200 here mostly very large females, the biggest 16.5 cm and black sticky mud on all ,it stunk like wild pig and smelt the same(we were thinking about making them walk home, especially Jenny)but a good job done so loaded everyone back up and the muddy ones headed back to the community to wash off under the taps before heading back to the camp, it was a good bust and fun had by all.
The juniors and some of the women crashed as soon as we were back at camp and the rest of the adults had time to sit by the camp fire and share a drink and a few laughs before hitting the sack around 2am, a long night.
Sunday morning was all good, all up reasonably early to cook bacon and eggs on the BBQ (the men’s job)then the toad processing for the doco, this made it slow and very amusing with Bruce George he was filmed participating in all the tasks of toad busting and he had trouble handling messy toads first thing in the morning after dealing with toad drops up his nose in his mouth and on his clothes, not sure how he managed that, then found it difficult to handle the bags for the euthinasing which bought many laughs to the crews, the kids thought he was wonderful and the poor guy could not move without a junior toad buster watching his every move. Bruce turned out to be a great guy with an obvious passion for wildlife and the land and promises he will return and will forever be a Toad buster.
Burt found a beautiful snake skin from an Olive Python complete with the head in tact, this created some interest with everyone to see how long some of the snakes out there really are.
We had one final take to do for the doco before heading home and that was the vehicle line up on a dusty road , we did this on the entrance to Bullo River Station Rd, this was repeated several times but still no complaints but a great cheer from all involved at the end of it all, the film crew were impressed with the Kimberley Toad Busters and couldn’t thank us enough. Sharon issued the film crew with a T shirt and Bruce received a toad stubby cooler as well, he was extremely moved by the hospitality and the great bunch of Kimberley people he met on this trip and loved the gift.
A good job well done by the Kimberley Toadbusters once again.
VOLUNTEERS LUKE PARKER PLUS 7 KIDS
LOCATION: DUCK HOLE
DAVE WOODS LEADING LUKE AND TEAM TO DUCK HOLE TO BUST FOR THE NIGHT, DUE TO THE KIDS HE WILL ALSO CHECK GOOGLIE HOLES AND BULLO RIVER DRIVEWAY
DAVE WILL BE IN COTACT VIA RADIO FOR SAFETY REASONS
DAVE WILL CHECK ON SUNDAY AM TO MAKE SURE ALL IS WELL
DAVE WOODS AND LYALL GREIVE WILL DO A RECCY ON NEWRY STATION—PERMISSION GRANTED FROM THE STATION MANAGERS AT BRIKKIES ROCK HOLE AND SADDLE CREEK TURKEY NESTS ,THEY FOUND A SMALL TURKEY NEST THAT WAS NOT MARKED ,GPS IT , NO TOADS FOUND CHECKED OTHER SURROUNDING AREAS USING THE QUADS , WILL ALSO CHECK GOOGLIE HOLES FOR TOADS AND BUSTED THE LARGE HOLE. MOSTLY MALES ONE FEMALE, LOOKS LIKE FRONT LINE STUFF.PLACED ONE IN FREEZER AT NEWRY. ABNORMAL BLACK HANDS AND FEET
TOTAL TOADS CAUGHT
DUCK HOLE 126 TOTAL
BULLO RIVER DRIVEWAY 31
GOOGLI HOLES 22
TOTAL 189 TOADS CAUGHT AND HUNDREDS OF METAMORPHS SPRAYED.