By The Queen of the Knoll - Gail Tucker
Four koalas were captured on day one. They were collared and made ready for radio tracking. They began to be known as A, B and C, until koala D landed on Deidre during the catch. It was at this point that koala D became known as Deidre and from here on in they were assigned names to match their letters.
Koala A was Andrew. He was a large male weighing in at 8.9 kg. He became known as the sook for his poor behaviour during his catch and his crying after we let him go. He was found in a Blue Gun (Eucalyptus tereticornis) and over the 19 days he was tracked he moved a total distance of 1390 meters and was found revisiting trees on five occasions.
Her weight and head length were the same this year as last (7kg and 130.5mm respectively) and she also had a pouch young this year the same as last. She was tracked for 19 days over which time she moved a total distance of 1060 meters.The second day of catching started with Shirley finding Elmo and then Alistair joined the team shortly before finding Freda and George.
Elmo was a young lady weighing only 2.4 kg. She was a little difficult to get out of the tree because she was so small she just hung onto the end of the leaves and wouldn't budge. She was resting in a Bloodwood when she was found but over the next 20 days of tracking she was usually found in the rainforest gullies.
On her last day she was in a very low tree and while the tree was bent over she was gently plucked from the branches.
Freda and George were found very close together and were both in Blue Gums. Freda was an easy catch from the ground but George went for a dance around his tree ending up in a nearby Casuarina where he chose a branch too small to hold his weight.
were caught and collared Freda and George became our two problem animals
(we suspect that was because Alistair found them) and the trackers drawing
the short straw referred to them and just F'nG.
"George of the Jungle" was also a trackers nightmare, not for the distance and steepness like Freda, but for his camouflage skills. George took to hiding in the rainforest and the record stands at one hour and 15 minutes to locate him once the tree had been pinpointed (Deidre will back me up on that one). Despite George being a giant 8.1 kg adult male he managed to be in the rainforest canopy on 15 of the 20 days he was tracked.
Juliet, Kathryn and Leon were caught on day three.
Igor was a
big adult male (8kg) and was the first koala to pee down the tree and
manage to get every member of the catch team (including me in the tree).
He then added insult to injury by backing down the tree into the fork
I was already in at which point he just climbing down my leg.
Juliet, was another lovely female. She was also a little partial to a view and was often found on the edge of the vegetation over the furthermost side of the Knoll. Her catches were quite easy as she was always very corroborative.
Kathryn and Leon were caught in the same area as Juliet (they were all quite close). Kathryn was a little over 7kg, a fully-grown adult. She didn't like being caught very much. On her last catch when we let her go and moved - she left her tree and made a run for it.
Little Leon was the last catch on the third day. He was only 3.3kg and quite shy. He liked it better in the bag than on the tree when we were trying to release him. Deirdre did manage to get quite a good photo of him when he wasn't expecting it.
Moonshine Marcus and Natasha were caught on day four and Oscar was caught on day five. The catching had dropped off as the tracking became the priority (and with F'nG taking so much time we were flat out getting these catches done).
Moonshine Marcus was a sub-adult male (only 3.7kg). He stayed around the same area on the Knoll as where he was caught and only moved a total of 790 metres. His catch to remove his collar was quite spectacular as he was in branches that overhung quite a steep area with a brushy Casuarina in his flight path. The plan was to get him to back down the tree but he just wasn't going to. In the end we just pushed him out.
Natasha was another of our mothers. She only weighed 5.6kg and had a joey that just had fur. Natasha moved around quite a lot and was only found in 'used' trees on her last two days of tracking.
Oscar was our last catch for the 15 we needed for tracking and was referred to as Over and Out Oscar. He was an adult male (5.2kg) and was tracked for 15 days. Oscar finished the Knoll for us and while the tracking continued the catching team moved to the steeper and more rugged side of Homestead Bay to catch more koalas.
P&Q were caught in the gully right near the house, great we were thinking close to home, but looks can be deceptive, that hill is steep. Just ask Bill and his finger or Alistair and his broken arm how hard it was to catch a 'P' on the run. As for me the view from up the tree was the best yet, on my tallest vertical climb to date.
Ren and Stimpy were in the next bay around and were on ground just as steep. The vegetation also got thinker in this area, and while heading to catch Stimpy we were forced to crawl through some of the scrub. Not an easy feat with pole in hand.
Ursula were found next. Ursula was a clumsy catch and our only one to
miss the tarp. She came down on a branch that snapped under her weight
and when Alistair tried to wrestle her she gave him a bit of a swipe (check
out the 'finger' photo).
Our last catch, Wally was a very small male, too small for a collar even!! He was released without a collar and it was then a case a playing 'Where's Wally'. It didn't work though, we had no more energy to find him again - we'll get him next year.