Up, up, up and away we go!
Please bear with me, this may be a long post. Today was the most spectacular day; I could not contain my excitement and happiness all day.
I awoke to a clear blue, sunny sky. There was only the slightest breeze which starkly contrasted with the offering of delights from the weather gods the day before. With only tiny splatterings of cloud in the far distance, this could only mean one thing... joining Jodi (frog/amphibian specialist) and Tom (reptile specialist) on a helicopter ride, out on a mission to locate some tadpoles, possibly some frogs and attempt to catch skinks.
As we arrived at the helicopter pad, the nerves were switching from nervousness to excitement as we climbed aboard our 7 seater aircraft. Two of those seats are for the the two pilots who took us to the desired coordinates from Jodi and Tom. Our location for investigation and exploration would be known as 'FLN13'. An area in Kosciuszko national park along the Tin Mine Creek.
We landed in a grassed area and moved away from the rapidly rotating blades of the chopper. Once the helicopter moved away, and I had taken a moment to absorb the beautiful landscape around me, we left the survival tent and off we went.
Our first mission: to locate some tadpoles that the botanists had spotted on a previous fly in. We followed the creek along and noticed the damage first hand from the amount of brumbies roaming the remote areas.
Tadpoles! Jodi wanted some large samples for DNA testing. One problem - we had all forgotten to bring a net along! Uh oh, what shall we do?
Get close to the edge of the water and attempt to scoop them up with our hands! Did we manage it? YES we did - not just one, but three. This mission did not take long, so off we went on to help Tom locating and catching skinks. I bumbled along, absolutely convinced that I would catch at least 2 or 3, and hopefully assist Tom in finding one of the threatened species of skink - the Alpine she-oak skink. Walking through the wooded and more shaded areas I went on the skink-finding mission.
Alas, after a number of hours turning over and replacing logs, searching through leaf litter, I spotted not a single skink. Meanwhile, Tom is finding and catching plenty of skinks for his research! I clearly need more experience to perfect this tricky activity. I am pleased Tom managed to find what he needed, but no Alpine she-oak skinks today.
On returning to base camp, we had dinner and then headed out for the next mission: to locate some Alpine tree frogs for DNA sampling. Jodi then used an app to encourage the frogs to return our frog call. She is actually the creator of an app called Frog ID. You can use it when out and about. If you hear any frog calls, you can record the sound and the location and recording will be stored on a database for Jodi to analyse - it's pretty impressive.
Anyway, we first went to Diggers Creek. There Tom caught, what I think was called, the common alpine tree frog. A DNA sample was collected and then returned to the creek. Without much success beyond that, we headed out to Rainbow Lake. This was a 3.2km return walk. It was a stunningly calm and relatively cool night. The lake looked magnificent even in the dark of the night. We heard plenty of frogs calling, but I had lost my energy. I sat quietly at the edge of the lake as I watched other participants of Bush Blitz explore the lake following their head torches. It was the perfect place to sit and reflect on what had been the most phenomenal day. I did not stop smiling the entire time - being in nature and appreciating Country does wonders for the soul.