Since last spring NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service have been conducting the first ever formal flora and fauna surveys in the Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area.
The flora survey revealed several species of native orchid which had never before been seen on the mountain. At the end of March the survey of the mountain's fauna was conducted, resulting in further unique discoveries.
The most exciting was that of a powerful owl, a threatened species, sighted in the park for the first time. Greater gliders, food for the powerful owl, were spotted in several places on the mountain, as well as many ringtail possums.
Sometimes during the surveys, I felt that I was in a remote area far away from a town or a city. Canobolas to me is a stand of valuable biodiversity which acts as a refuge in a largely cleared landscape.Nella Smith
The ringtails were of varying ages, including young ones, indicating they had bred following the fire.
Traps were set in the hope of finding small mammals. The steep terrain made it hard work for those involved, but the anticipation of finding something in the trap made it worthwhile.
Several antichinus - a species of small native marsupial mouse - were trapped in areas that had not been burned, and in one instance in an area which had been severely burned. After measuring they were released.
Bird surveys were also conducted during the survey period. Another exciting rediscovery was that of the fluorescent yellow planarium worm in both burned and unburned areas. Amazingly it looks like a piece of edge trimmer twine, so it was easy to spot in the leaf litter.
Volunteers from the Orange Field Naturalist and Conservation Society and the community joined NPWS staff to conduct the surveys under the supervision of scientist Anne Kerle.
Nella Smith, a volunteer who travelled from Narrandera to assist, summed up the feelings of everyone involved when she said, "the biodiversity survey was a collective effort of experienced minds and volunteers searching for the elements that make the mountain so diverse-including fauna, flora, insects, fungus and finding out about many new things".
"Sometimes during the surveys, I felt that I was in a remote area far away from a town or a city. Canobolas to me is a stand of valuable biodiversity which acts as a refuge in a largely cleared landscape," she said.
Like the orchids, these surveys have shown us that the mountain is recovering and that it has lots more secrets to reveal - all we have to do is look.
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