In Sept 2019 the WA Naturalists arranged an excursion to Tutanning Nature Reserve (just over 2hrs from Perth, East of Pingelly) – one of the Wheatbelt’s under-visited reserves compared to Dryandra Woodland or Boyagin Nature Reserve. The reserve is 220 ha – remnant Kwogan shrubland with more than 300 species of flora and a vital fauna refuge. It is an island in amongst the cleared agricultural land of the wheatbelt. The reserve is managed by the Parks & Wildlife service of DBCA.
When the excursion was suggested it was recognised I had been before (see blog) so I was asked to lead the excursion and my friend Tanya offered to assist 🙂 We had 12 people attend all up (6 visitors and 1 member) attending their first excursion, an overnight trip.
We stayed at the Percy Marshall Field Station within the reserve. The google map can be found below.
For additional information on the reserve follow these links from the Shire of Pingelly – Tutanning NR & Percy Marshall Field Station (includes track map). It can be booked for a small fee by contacting the Narrogin office of DBCA.
We met at the field station for lunch and explored the building and facilities. I set up my swag on the verandah but there are two rooms with bunks beds and can accommodate 10 people. In addition, there is a kitchen area and toilet/bathroom surrounded by a verandah. Water is supplied from tanks that you need to pump and power comes from a supplied generator.
There were a number of really interesting signs on the verandah telling about the history of the reserve and the field station.
Once we had most people together we went for a drive. The plan was to drive slowly looking for numbats as they are present in low numbers in the reserve, but there are few reported sightings. We didn’t come across any numbats, but on the first drive saw a couple of echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus).
A couple of people found a huge fungi but I got distracted by a large granite outcrop where we found number a of variegated dtella (Gehyra variegata) underneath rocks. While lifting rocks is a great way to find herps, it is critical to put them back in exactly the same position as it is crucial habitat that is easily disturbed.
We headed back to the field station to prepare dinner and enjoyed a lovely sunset from the verandah as it set over adjacent farmland.
Once we had enjoyed dinner and some wine we headed out for a nightstalk with a plan to head up to the nearby dam to look for frogs and anything else we might find. Bleating froglet (Crinia pseudinsignifera) and Western Banjo frogs (Limnodynastes dorsalis) were heard in the dam but none seen clearly. Many spiders were seen as their eyes are highly visible under spotlight.
After the walk a few joined me for a night drive – I was hoping for red-tailed) phascogale (Phascogale calura) and tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) as they were seen on my previous visit. We headed up to Tammar Rd, adaptly named road as this was the location of the previous sightings. We parked in a clearing and walked along the road and spotted a lovely Western spotted frog (Heleioporus albopunctatus).
We headed back with no sightings of any nocturnal mammals, but just after turning off Tammar Rd, we were rewarded with a pair of Tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) in amongst pink everlastings.
The next day I woke early, enjoyed breakfast on the balcony and the surrounding bushland.
We decided to do the Tutanning walk trail which is a 6km moderate Class 3 walk loop that starts at the field station. It has a number of reflective trail markers and interpretative signs. I have included the signs in the images below.
We walked through Sheoaks and found a number of Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava), Sugar orchid (Caladenia saccharata) and saw a few birds as well.
We then headed through a section with impressive Proteaceae.
Next we came to some higher ground with wandoo woodland – good habitat for numbats and echidna, however no numbats were seen. We did find a very fresh dead fox – possibly a victim of 1080 poisoning. The reserve is baited to protect the native fauna.
We walked through a number of granite outcrops with some amazing moss and climbing Drosera plants with lovely white flowers.
We were on the home stretch of the walk and we came across a number of Echnida – we assume they were either congregating for an echidna train or resting afterwards. It’s an amazing mating behaviour when many males will follow a single female in a single file line! Count how many you can see!
It was so amazing to see so many together. We had been pleased with just the 2 other single sightings the day before. I managed to get a little video of the action as they were all quite active. We kept our distance as we didn’t want to disturb them but one came right up to our group before ambling off!
I managed to get a few photos of the underneath of an echidna while it was climbing a branch showing the spineless furry bottom and amazing claws.
Below you can see evidence of the echidna diggings for termites – they leave a lot of ground disturbed.
After this amazing sight we finished the walk buzzing! It’s a great walk and I recommend it. It’s very isolated so you want to ensure you keep safe with friends knowing where you are and proper supplies if you get into trouble.
We returned to the hut and started packing up. In the kitchen we found this interesting diagram of the mosaic fire history of the reserve.
We also enjoyed looking through the visitors book and added our own entry.
We then followed the leaving instructions for the hut and left the reserve. On the way out we found this Fox den (identified by the musty pungent smell) and rabbit warren (copious rabbit droppings).
We all had an amazing weekend and I received a lot of positive feedback. Joan wrote up the club report which can be found here .