Expedition to Bernier & Dorre, July 1959
9 July 1959
Before the expedition started the vehicle was weighed to provide data for loading in future expeditions.
Land Rover W.A.G. 5106
Wt. without driver and with main tank 1/2 empty = 1 Tn.
Wt. with preserving tanks, ration box without rations & kit for Lees & Douglas &collecting equipment = 1 Tn.14 cwy, 28 lbs.
i.e. wt of kit =4cwt 42 lbs.
Expected wt of rations = 11/2 cwt, H204 petrol=200lbs
Wt of permanent fixtures of vehicle =.
11th July 1959
Perth to Murchison. left Perth 0630hrs, got petrol at Geraldton and then on to Murchison. Arriving between 4.50 & 5.00. Country all the way up in beautiful condition, very open, free water lying everywhere.
28 parrots, cuckoo shrikes in fairly large numbers. Kestrels also frequently seen. Christmas trees and York gums also seen between Geraldton and Murchison. Walked along the Murchison to the East with Bernie Bowen. Crows roosting in the trees & large numbers of cuckooshrikes also roosting in Casuarina cristata, E. microtheca (Coolebah) along river with nesting hollows chipped out. E. camaldulensis (N.S.W. red gum) also there.
Shot a crow ("raven") in spotlight, brown irides, also cuckoo shrike because of kensts "and barrier".
We came up in too vehicles Bernie's Holden van and Museum Land Rover, both working well.
The team for the islands is:
Ride. leader & mammals
Hugh Tyndale Biscoe Mammals
Bob Royce. Botany
Gerlof Mees Birds
Athol Douglas Reptiles
Bernie Bowen. Fisheries Dept. Observer.
Raven Corvus coronoides Wing 330 grey bases to breast feathers.
12th July 1959
Rose 6.00 am, very dark. Breakfast.
Gerlof and Hugh rose last, remarked that married men seemed to find it easier. Left Murchison about 9.00 having zeroed guns. Had trouble with my .22 barrel not striking properly, striker worn. As for about one hour & stopped about 67 miles N. of Murchison. Saw crows, weebills, butcher birds, redtailed black cockatoos, cuckooshrikes. Athol shot cookoo shrike. Country with York gums & acacia mixture, soon after came to belt of sandplain, great contrast, no trees. Low callitris etc..
Soon afterwards passed into dry belt proper with saltbush and other small low shrubs. This has continued all the way to moving camp about 15 m. before Carnarvon. This place (camp) has a low sandhill with acacia which is inhabited by numbers of birds & red kangaroos. Cookooshrikes plentiful. Shot white-winged truller at dusk. Also caught crimson clart roosting. Shot in brilliant scarlet like those at Fatisme in Sempt.
Earlier in day saw large numbers of red kangaroos and also a large fox in excellent conditions, loc. about 20 m. south of Carnarvon.
Searched for small mammals at night with light but no luck.
Will try to get cookooshrike in morning.
Arrived Carnarvon. Met Boksette (of Lands and Surveys Dept who is to take Astrofixes of headlands in Islands) and his two assistants. Also Dave Wright of "Lancelin" boat unable to sail that day. Spent time buying provisions etc. Then went out to Gascoyne, saw bee-eaters, kestrels, "bush canaries" and a grey brown thrush (?).
In evening went back to Whaling Station & saw some pictures taken in Berniers Dune by Ron Cooper (Cooper who applied for licence to oyster farm on Berniers). Cooper says that there are 3 macropods(?) and bandicoots at home on island. 2 of the macropods live in rocks down near waters edge & the other makes burrows under spinifex on plateau of island. Bandicoots also in spinifex once can be caught by walking in the spinifex.
They(the macropods) are fine and will come up to the fire at night.
He has seen no snakes but has seen a goanna "like a racehorse goanna".
Talked about whaling. The station is still doing well but they will not get their quota of 1,000 this year. The stocks have been too heavily hit in the Antarctic apparently some 1700 humps were taken down in the Antarctic by the fleet into the 4 day sB. [Coll. No WR19] Wt 1200g. ; length 65.5 ; Tail, 30 ; HF. 10.4 ; Ear 4.7 : Skin & skull, skeleton, strath nug. preserved.
Lagostromus F with furred young [Coll. no. WR20] Germ extracted by HTB. Wt. 1600 g. ; length, 71.5 ; Tail, 33.5 ; HF, 10.85 ; Ear 4.2 : Skin & skull, skeleton & ug preserved. Pouch young in spirit. M testes removed. Wt: 530 g. ; length, 48.5 ; Tail, 23 ; HF. 9.1 ; Ear 3.6.
Out with Hugh & Bernie. Explored base of cliffs opposite Disaster Cove & walked south. Collected land shells and also fossil shells from the limestone. It appears to be lateritized. Shot heron, yellowish feet & soles of feet yellow, rest of legs grey and greenish grey in patches. tangled spinifex and low rushes find some of them to contain burrows. Dug out fresh one and found f Bettongia with large young in pouch.
[Coll. No WR21] Sketch of burrow: ends of burrow about 1 1/2 ft below surface, gradual slope from entrance ; Female exposed, young kept, well furred, Wt 82 g., Length 26.5, Tail 12.5, HF 6.5, Ear 1.8.
Shot several lizards? Ablepharus & Amphibolurus. Collected a Gehyra from an empty Boodie hole. .
Shot a bronze cookoo in a low bush, legs grey, iris red-brown,appears to be a F with egg low in U.S. Systems, new record for the island.
Set traps 16 Box traps & 22 Hayworth all baited with apple, aniseed used in some of the box traps.
Shot 2 Calamanthus, a beautiful clear song at sunset, run around tussocks & sit with tail cocked up like wren. Iris yellow, legs low coloured. Gleined emals all evening, at 11.45 saw brilliant dull red sky through breaks in cloud between 240* & 140* extending almost 40* above the horizon. Lasted about 5 mins.
Caught immature Lagostromus [Coll. W.R.22]
Lights seen again by Bernie & HTB at 1.15 am and again Lancelin at 4.00am.
Boat arrived at 8.40 having left Carnarvon at 04.00. Very windy previous night , wondered if boat would come.
1 Bottingia caught in cane trap, m., baited with apple.[Coll. NoCoast slightly to the N. of Castle Point. Then moved back into Aencia near Peaked Cliff. Back to the Centre again moving along the western ridges again. Mammals seemed to be densest in the lower type of vegetation not tree type i.e. in bushes where branches are right down to the ground, rarely associated with thickets of hibiscus or pittosporum but in acacia and diplolaena (native rose), eucalypts and leptosperm. Saw more than 15 altyeten.
Moved up centre & across to a point roughly opposite Castle Point. Saw no animals until opposite crater point.(Royce also found this) All seemed to be Logostrophus , on each occasion (except one time) single animals only were started. (Royce also found this). Animals always started out of mixed spinifex or even out of big spinifex. Animals invariably dodge twisting and turning among spinifex clumps. Headed towards Low Point but before reaching W. coast turned back and reached E. coast probably slightly north of Peaked Cliff, moved along the coast to Disaster Cove.
No sign seen by anyone H.T.B. & no pads along west coast but no sign of goats
Dogs and foxes
No sign . Some small macropods leave a pseuds.nose by double imprinting
Bob saw two not collected
Athol: 6 animals collected
H.T.B. I give note of white beach.
Douglas made a 200 square i.e. 800 walk put up 2 animals only in that distance, made in a most favorable area.
Went out with HTB & Bernie. Spotlight shot Perameles bouganvillei in low scrub (m.) blown out sand dunes N of Disaster Bay. After Hugh had seen it he says scale of dent(?) mouse of day before was Perameles. Bowen too also see some before at North End. [Coll. no. 29] Wt 220g. Body & Tail 29.7 cms. Tail 9, Ear 3.2, HF4.8. Testes removed & fixed for Sherman & Cleland. Took 6 photographs of bandicoot (1 fisheries, 1 Hugh, 2 Ride, 2 Douglas)
Saw a small bat at "Tunnel" north of Disaster Bay, appeared to be E. paulia.
Hugh caught Lagostrophyus with handnet.[Coll. Na with fairly thick but low vegetation in the valleys, saw L. fasciatis here. The last few valleys are very difficult to walk through filled with olearia sbout 2ft 6in. high.
All valleys had numerous tracks in the sand but very bright full moon made it impossible to see animals. On way back noticed that the eucalyptus belts were much chillier and "cold damper" than the contrary on either side. Possibly the reason why the eucalypts have survived.
Interested to note that each valley had different vegetation from those to east & west. Royce says that this is quite common.
In Cline to S. of Quoin saw Lagostrophus and also a light coloured wallaby which was probably Lagorchestes. This record is extremely doubtful because, although the animal had a pale rump, it disappeared suddenly and probably went down a hole. i.e. could be Bettongia.
20 July [next page added later]
The cliffs opposite Disaster Cove appear to be made up of a limestone "country rock" which at some time has become fissured. These fissures contain small concretinary pebbles, pebbles of country rock and shells (?) (Bothriembryon). In addition, there are rounded boulders lying about the island of a very calcareous gritstone. Before packing up camp went to W. side & collected samples of (a) the country rock of the cliffs
(b) the Both. country breccia finfissures (?)
(c) grit boulders, water rounded.
Packed up camp on Dorre and left at 11.00hrs sea flat calm & very pleasant. Disaster Cove dead flat with a very gentle swell washing ashore. Noticed that the bottom is ripple marked for the first time since we have been here. Markings appear to go down 2-3 fathoms.
Hugh tried a new census method last night. He swept tracks in the sand and recorded all crossings. The tracks stretched right across the island from Disaster Cove. The North one was 126 paces long. The southern one was 74 paces long. The lines did not go down to the sea but stretched from the cliffs on the west to the ones on the ein distal portion where dorsal hairs are distinctly sepia while ventral areas are white. [Sketch]: teats, dorsal surface of snout, brownish grey. tick collected off ear.
Lagostrophus fasciatus m. very brown, Wt.1550 length. 69, Tail 3,5, HF 10.7 Ear 4.75. Testes removed, skin and skull, wt. tests 45, photographed reel 3.
Lagostrophus fasciatus m. [Coll. WR 45] wt 1600 Length 66 Tail. 32 HF 10.5 Ear 4.8 , photographed alive Reel 3
Bettongia lesueur m. [Coll WR46] Wt.1100 length.56 Tail 25 HF 10.2. Ear. 3. Body preserved entire in formalin. Photographed dead Reel 3.
[The animals above were photographed in reverse order].
24th July 1959
Got up early expecting to take "Lancelin" to Red Cliff Point but blowing very hard from North East & Lancelin has had to just put to sea.
Went out to check the traps find 2 Mus albocinereus in Hayworth, 1 mus albocinereus in Breakback & 1 Perameles F with pouched young in Breakback. It appears that Athol's statement that "Toast has been proved in these contents " is accurate !
Caught a very small & somewhat wide Amphibolus (Adelaidensis) in the sandhills, nearly white, was in a clump of spinifex in an area predominently Olearia. Ver sluggish in the loose sand and strong wind.
Started to rain. Rained very hard indeed all afternoon and evening. Took opportunity to skin and put collection in order.
Perameles bougainville F. [WR 47] 1 pouch young m. hairless eyes open not squeaking balance not developed. Wt 17 g. Total length 12.05, Tail 4.05, E 1.4, hf 2.7. Mother: Wt. 250, L. 30, T 9.7, E 3.55, HF 4.9. Caught in sandhills in Breakback net in trap baited with toast. Vegetation Spinifex longiflora and Olearia axillaris. 4 teats, 1 long teat only ... presumably litter early U.S system not enlarged. Skin and skull, body preserved in formalin & young preserved.
[WR 48a] F. caught in Hayworth baited with toast, vegetation etc. same as above. Wt 15 g., L 16.5, T. 9.6, E. 1.5, HG 2.1. 4 teats abdominal no