For one of my classes, Biodiversity of Tropical Australia, we went on a three day field trip to Paluma which is a small town in the Wet Tropics region to the north of Townsville. To make the one hundred person class more manageable, they split us up into groups of about ten people. They had a schedule for every group to follow so that everyone would get to experience everything. The end goal was to gather photos and videos of our activities to make a video that would be part of our grade for the class. We stayed in dorm-like buildings at an education center that only had composting toilets so it’s safe to say that we were off the grid.
The first night, my group was looking for insects so we hung up a large white sheet and some spotlights and just waited. Sure enough, huge moths and beetles began to land on the sheet. We would catch them and try to figure out exactly what they were using books.
One morning we were looking for birds and were mostly unsuccessful in the rainforest because it’s so dense but had better luck out on the street where we could see more birds going from tree to tree. These yellow birds are called Bower birds and David Attenborough had come to the same area to film them!
Our group went spotlighting one night to try and find a possum. We were using the lights to find animals when the light reflects off of the retina in their eyes. We didn’t find a possum but we did find some insects and a gecko on a tree.
Another morning, we were in charge of checking a line of mammal traps set up by another group the day before. Our leader let us try the handling techniques for getting the mammals out of the traps. We only caught a type of mouse that morning. I surprised myself by volunteering but I’m glad I did because it wasn’t so hard and it was definitely empowering!
Our group went on many hikes, there was so much to see in the area like panoramic ocean views, waterfalls and creeks. It was so beautiful! We did surveys of the different types of forest and vegetation in the area surrounding us. It was interesting to me how drastically the landscape could change. During one of our hikes, we walked from the cool rainforest into dry sclerophyll forest and it was an instant 15 degrees warmer.
Although it was busy, going on this field trip was really enjoyable because it was so immersive and hands on. I really appreciated interacting with what I was learning about in the classroom in such a direct way. I’ve known that I am a hands on learner and I hope to incorporate more learning and experiences like this in my future back at Colby!