I was up early and out on the Yelbeni Road for a change, eventually arriving at the new survey site after a number of stops along the way to photograph roadside vegetation I hadn’t encountered before. The new site was on the corner of Cemetery and Ryan roads and had a very different feeling to the other sites I had visited. It was quite dry with gravel and laterite and one corner of the remnant had been converted into a dump for old fertiliser drums, which formed a mound like a display of confectionery. A dead sheep had been thrown on top, so a slightly acrid smell of chemicals and putrid flesh wafted by occasionally. Ironically, the site was extremely animated with birdsong and very quickly the team were busy extracting birds from the nets. I was wandering around amongst the acacias, mallees and Callitris roei very slowly, videotaping daylight footage for a change, but also stopping and recording the sound of the various birds that inhabited this remnant.
What looked like an old charcoal pit was now being slowly reclaimed by the surrounding scrub.
Just as I was shooting the chalky whiteness of a eucalyptus trunk, I heard some cheering and yells of joy coming from one of the nets. Someone yelled out something to do with the Holy Grail, so I rushed back to find that they had netted ten White Browed Babblers and that one of them was banded, meaning that it was possibly over eleven years old, when the last survey was done in the area. In such a threatened environment, a capture like this meant so much to these dedicated conservationists.
I returned to the craft barn in the afternoon to begin packing up and in the process pinned some large format negatives of aerial photographs Kit had lent me up in the window to photograph. The section I was interested in was of Durokoppin and the remnant corridor that connects it to Kodj Kodjin and where we were working a few days earlier.
At twilight I returned to Burges Spring Reserve on the Yelbeni Road where Saba had got lost a week ago. I thought there would be plenty of good things to photograph, but after photographing a shy echidna and shooting some footage of the failing light and silhouetted trees, I also got lost. Leaving half my equipment on the top of the rock, I tried to find my way back to the car by torchlight but couldn’t really tell where I was going. After back tracking a bit and mild panic beginning to make me sweat, the torch finally illuminated a small glint of metal through the bushes and I found the car. I plugged in a light so that I could pick up the rest of the equipment and find my way back successfully and when I finally drove out I was very relieved indeed. I reckon I had discovered Western Australia’s version of Hanging Rock in Victoria!
I rushed home and had a quick shower before going out to the ‘Prev’ and a farewell meal with the bird survey team. They were busy transferring all the data of the day onto their digital database and were able to tell me that the previously banded Babbler was caught not far from the site it was captured today and that it should be about twelve years old. It really was a good point for me to leave on, knowing that such a creature could sustain a living in the environment over such a long period of time.