Where “Grey’s” matter _ Winton Wetlands home to Victoria’s smallest skink

An important aspect of the restoration of Winton Wetlands is enhancing biodiversity which can be achieved by protecting and reintroducing native species. To select the best course of action, having sound knowledge about the site and its wildlife is vital to plan and implement effective strategies.

Throughout September the team of staff and volunteers a Winton Wetlands carried out extensive surveys to help determine the presence of a range of reptile species at the reserve.

Winton Wetlands volunteer Rod Sherlock and Dr Lisa Farnsworth checking survey sites.

“If we don’t know it’s there, we can’t adequately protect it- our long term survey results will help guide our management objectives on the reserve and ensure that our strategies meet the requirements of multiple species, including our local reptiles,” said Dr Lisa Farnsworth who lead the survey program.

The surveys were conducted over a period of three weeks and included 32 sites across the reserve which were check twice daily. Each site consists of two pitfall lines with funnel traps- a traditional reptile survey technique.  Each site also had 18 roofing tiles, four bark covers, and two sheets of iron laid out, all of which are materials that provide attractive artificial habitat for reptiles.

Constructing the sites using artificial habitat is an important aspect of ensuring that natural habitat is not disturbed when checking the sites.

Overall, 4608 tiles were flipped, 576 bark covers were checked, 900 pitfall buckets were checked, 1280 funnel traps checked, and 256 sheets of iron flipped.

Despite some unfortunate cold weather, 11 different reptile species and 4 different frog species were recorded. The most significant records were Grey’s Skink (Menetia Greyi) at Humphries Hill and Dwyer’s Snake (Parasuta dwyeri) at Gould’s Hill, both of which have not previously been sited on the reserve. These records will add valuable information to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas and have also increased the coverage of the species known distribution within Victoria.

Other highlights were several Olive Legless Lizards (Delma inornata) at Humphries Hill, Gould’s Hill, and Ashmead’s Road sites and the trapping of over 117 individual frogs. These frog records allowed us to collect over 50 swabs which will contribute to our chytrid fungus prevalence study as a part of the Winton Wetlands Growling Grass Frog Rewilding Project.

Olive Legless Lizard recorded during reptile surveys

Dr Lisa Farnsworth was pleased with the outcome of the first reptile surveys at the Winton Wetlands reserve in over 10 years.

“These surveys highlight the wonderful diversity of reptiles we have living on the reserve and emphasise that Winton Wetlands is a biodiversity asset in the presence and absence of water”

Winton Wetlands would like to thank all those involved for their hard work, especially those who volunteered their time.

A Sudell’s Frog recorded during the reptile surveys in September 2020.