For Nature

Become a Citizen Scientist

Any one can join a citizen science project and be a citizen scientist!

Citizen science projects in the Margaret River region are designed to find out more about our threatened fauna. Where do they occur? How many individuals are there? Are populations increasing, decreasing or stable? Are they disappearing from some areas?

Data collected through these projects are used to answer specific research questions and can assist in policy and management decisions for the Margaret River region. It is invaluable to know the status of our threatened fauna in the region and to be able to take positive actions to protect them.

When you join a citizen science project you will be able to share your skills, learn new skills and have the opportunity to enjoy positive encounters with our local fauna. There are currently two main areas for citizen science projects coordinated by Nature Conservation: the Western Ringtail Possum Project and the Ringtail Tally.

Western Ringtail Possum Project

Nature Conservation is currently running a long term Western Ringtail Possum citizen science project, with the support of the Shire of Augusta Margaret River and the South West Catchments Council. Its aim is to better understand Western ringtail possums in our area and more specifically what vegetation types and habitat features influence Western ringtail presence and density within the landscape.

The project trains volunteers to identify possums through spotlighting, following the survey methodology developed for the project. Trained volunteers then head out in teams of two to collectively survey across nine 1km transects spread across our landscape. Each survey takes 1hr and each team surveys three different transects within a one month period, four times a year (corresponding with the different seasons). Over time, the data collected through this project when coupled with detailed information about the make up of each transect will greatly improve our understanding of Western ringtail possum habitat within our region. This understanding will then inform better management decisions and outcomes for the species.

Anyone interested in becoming involved in the project should contact Lauren Scanlon at [email protected]

The CAUL Urban Wildlife APP is perfect for recording the possums in your local area, outside of a structured project. It is available to download for both iPhones and Android phones and is easy to use. Instructions for using the App are available here and as part of the Quenda Count and CAUL App presentation at the end of the page.

Western Ringtail Possum

Autumn Possum Tally

Nature Conservation coordinate a yearly possum tally. Taking part in the tally is easy, participants simply choose a site and commit to counting possums on at least 1 night  over a 4 week period.

The tally aims to establish a set of suburban monitoring sites where western ringtail possums are counted annually using robust, repeatable methods, to engage the community in citizen science to assist with endangered species conservation and to raise awareness in the community about ringtails and their status

All results are collated and added to the DBCA and ALA database.

The 2023 Ringtail Tally will run over 4 weeks from Saturday 8th April – Sunday 7th May. Register for the tally HERE and watch this space for more details in the coming weeks. Results from the 2022 tally have been turned into an infographic and can be downloaded here.

Black Cockatoo Collaborative Project

Nature Conservation is also working in partnership with BirdLife WA and Cape Birds to coordinate the annual Great Cocky Count and ongoing CockyWatch. With the assistance and participation of members of the public (as volunteers) these two activities aim to learn more about the abundance and distribution of the Baudin’s Black-Cockatoo, Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo and Forest Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo in the Margaret River region (Busselton – Augusta). All three species have declined over the last 50 years or more. The Baudin’s and Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos are listed as Endangered and the Forest Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo as Vulnerable.

The Great Cocky Count (GCC) takes place on a Sunday evening in early April each year. Volunteers can register with BirdLife WA as a GCC counter during February and March prior to the count. GCC counters are allocated a night-roost site (as close as possible to where they live) to count at and given guidelines for how to conduct the count. People are also able to nominate their own night-roost site if they have a preference. Local coordinator(s) are also available during the summer and early autumn to help coordinate the count locally and to help locate new night-roost sites.

CockyWatch involves more frequent monitoring with the use of ‘transects’ – routes which people travel on (by foot, bicycle or car), surveyed whenever possible throughout the year. Survey forms can be downloaded from the Cockywatch page.

The South West Catchments Council (SWCC) is working with BirdLife WA and community landcare groups across the SWCC region to improve breeding success for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos.
To do this we need to find out where the birds are breeding. If you know of areas that cockatoos use, either for nesting, roosting or feeding, SWCC would love to hear from you. More information can be found in the recent presentation: Counting black cockatoos

For Nature

Other local programs

Hooded Plovers are monitored annually by Birdlife as part of their Beach-nesting bird program. Volunteers can help with the project in a range of roles, from a general volunteer through to becoming a citizen scientist involved with the monitoring. The Birdlife website has lots of information available for anyone interested.

Do you see fairywrens? The Fairywren Project is looking for citizen scientist partners across Australia to help collect observations of fairywrens and their plumages. Whether you’re a serious twitcher or enjoy seeing fairywrens in your garden, your observations help! Find out more on the website

The Backyard Bird Count is a yearly event run by Birdlife Australia. It’s a great introduction to the birds which are found in your garden.

Citizen Science in the Margaret River Region Presentation

Nature Conservation recently held a presentation on citizen science projects in the region.

Thanks to Dr Rochelle Steven from WWF who presented on both the Quenda Count and use of the CAUL Urban Wildlife App.

The individual presentations can be downloaded below.

Western ringtail possum projects

Quenda Count and CAUL app

Counting black cockatoos