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[Ashmore Trip 1] More ratting, and another 30-odd Noddies

June 10, 2013

[This is the sixteenth in a series of ‘Ashmore Trip 1’ posts, essentially diary entries. Internet was unavailable at the Ashmore Reef, so they are being presented one-day-per-day now that I am back in Melbourne.]

22/04/2013

Another early-ish morning today – 06:20 aboard tenders for the island, to collect and quantify rats killed by the traps we set yesterday, and to re-arm the traps for another night. The trap-rate was high: a little over 50% of traps had caught rats, so we built up multiple piles of freshly-killed rat-bodies, rotting quickly in the tropical heat.

I’m planning to take one for skeletonising and possibly skinning & mounting – I’ve never tried taxidermy before, but I’d like to give it a go. If this eradication is successful, I could have a mounted rat, possibly beside its skeleton, on a stand with the legend: “Adele Island Rattus exulans: xxxx – 2013′. Wondrous.

We were back on the boat by 10:30. Slept until lunch (around 13:00), then set up gear for night-mistnetting of Noddies.

Boated out for mistnetting around sunset – the tide was right on the cusp of navigable, so we spent about an hour getting to the island. We caught and processed another 36 Noddies across two species (Common and Black), and two Brown Boobies, but only a handful of the Noddies were caught in the mistnet – most were hand-caught by R1.

The Common Noddies here seem different to the ones on Ashmore: heavier in the hand, for one thing. Absolutely crawling with lice, for another. We collected some lice for the Perth Museum. It will be interesting to look into the DNA of the two noddy populations.

The plan for tomorrow is more ratting and more booby-sampling, then the start of the long ride home.

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