Once again our school holiday Spotlighting Night walks have proven popular, with places snapped up almost as soon as bookings opened for both Gateway Island and Waterworks night walks.

Last Wednesday evening saw a keen contingent of locals join Parklands Ranger Dan and guest leader Karen Retra from Wodonga Landcare at the Waterworks to explore the Murray River Red Gum trail by night.

They were well rewarded for braving the cold, spotting a number of night active native species, listening for frogs and learning about the habitat restoration underway at the Waterworks Regional Park.

Brushtail possums galore were going about their business, with a count of 30 indicating just how much they love the habitat on the river banks. One ring tail possum was caught in the spotlight, and a special appearance by a Tawny Frogmouth added to the excitement. Although not a rare species, it is always a thrill to see this bird when they are active at night. During the day they are almost impossible to spot, as they so thoroughly disguise themselves as a dead branch.

In preparation for the walk, leader Karen Retra – Waterways Project Officer with the Wodonga Urban Landcare Network, had already walked the route, finding and photographing several species of fungi. Being a keen citizen scientist, Karen has recorded these sightings to INaturalist, along with the possums and frogmouth noted on the night. You can view Karen’s records here.

While a crowd of around 30 people might have kept the frogs quiet during our walk, they were calling during Karen’s reconnaissance earlier in the day. Using the FrogID app, she made two recordings of the frog calls. The Victorian tree frogs (Litoria paraewingi) were particularly vocal, and Karen expects the Australian Museum experts who listen to the submission will confirm there were also common eastern froglets (Crinia signifera), eastern sign-bearing froglets (Crinia parinsignifera) and spotted marsh frogs (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis), too.

On her way home Karen was pleased to make some recordings of Sloane’s froglet (Crinia sloanei), not far from the Waterworks. This threatened species loves to call in winter, so now’s the time to listen out for them and add your recordings to the Frog ID app. Search for FrogID in your phone’s app store, download and get started!

Parklands Rangers are gratified to note the population of native birds and animals returning to the Waterworks as the restoration of native vegetation continues. In recent years successful native grass plantings using extensive weed matting have increased the habitat for small birds and reptiles, and particularly the insects that support birds such as the Tawny Frogmouth.

These community events were made possible with the support of the Victorian Government.

A Tawny Frogmouth perched near the trail, on the lookout for dinner

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