Citizen Science and Community Projects Update

Margot Law and Stephanie Clark, Citizen Science Officers.

Dragons of Sydney

The ‘Dragons of Sydney’ project conducted a Sydney-wide Water Dragon backyard survey. This survey aimed to uncover the features of people’s backyards that led to the presence or absence of water dragons; things like water features, vegetation, presence of pets, and personal uses of backyard space. 

A huge 971 people submitted responses to the survey. Of that total 761 had seen water dragons at least once in their backyard and 210 had never seen a water dragon in their backyard.  It’s great that we got responses from people who hadn’t seen water dragons in their backyard, as it is similarly important to know information on backyards that didn’t have water dragons to figure out why dragons aren’t present.

We’re at the preliminary stages of data analysis, but it already looks like there are some themes emerging.  Proximity to bushland and waterways has an effect on water dragons sighted, with the number of respondents reporting seeing a dragon in their backyard being higher than statistically expected when their property backs onto these areas than those further away. When backyards have water features like ponds, saltwater or chlorine pools, or a natural creek line, there is positive relationship to dragon sightings. The same can be said for if their backyard had trees and individual large rocks; the presence of both of these backyard features in backyards has a positive relationship on water dragon sightings.  


water features and dragons .jpg

Graph 1. The number of respondents that had a water feature and saw a dragon at least once in their backyard was higher than statistically expected. The number of respondents with no water feature who reported no dragon sightings was higher than statistically expected.

The results also show that the presence of cats in your backyard, or in the backyard of your neighbour, has a negative relationship to the presence of water dragons in backyards.

dragons and cats.jpg

Graph 2. The number of respondents that DIDN’T have a cat and SAW a dragon at least once in their backyard was higher than statistically expected. The number of respondents WITH a cat who reported NO DRAGON SIGHTINGS  was higher than statistically expected.

So if you live in an area that has water dragons around, you could do a few things to better your chance of having some new prehistoric-looking-creature residents. Plant more trees and landscape your backyard with large rocks so dragons have hiding spots, add some water features so they can have a splash, and keep your cats inside. The good news? These handy tips will be well received by a whole host of native wildlife.

Who’s living on my land?

We have had a bumper season of ‘Who’s living on my land?’ surveys. This Autumn we have trained 73 landholders to use infrared cameras to survey their land for wildlife. We’ve run five workshops across Southern NSW Adaminaby, Alpine, Robertson, Yerong Creek and Berry. We’re still waiting on some of the results – but so far, we have seen the first Blotched Blue Tongue Lizard in the Shannons Flat/Adaminaby region in 20 years.

Our next ‘Who’s living on my land?’ workshop is on the 23rd June 2018 in Bellingen.

Bush Mates

In other news, the ‘Bush Mates’ project is holding two events in South-West Sydney in June. Bush Mates aims to increase the positive impact that new residents of housing developments can have on their local environment by delivering a community engagement and education program to establish a respectful and sustainable relationship between communities and wildlife and habitat. The first event will be at Harrington Forest in Harrington Park on Saturday the 16th of June from 9am – 12.30pm, and the second will be at John Kidd Reserve in Blair Athol on Saturday the 23rd of June from 12-3.30pm. The events will have nature walk ‘n’ talks, workshops, face painting, sausage sizzles and a plant give away. The event in Blair Athol will even have a live native animal display. Further information can be found out about these events at


Bringing Back the Buzz to the Cumberland Plain Woodland

NPA has been working to improve pollinator and butterfly habitat on the Cumberland Plain. We have six bushcare groups working tirelessly to improve patches of Cumberland Plain Woodland in South Western Sydney. It’s been a very dry season with not many flowers blooming, so the bushcare groups have been focusing mainly on weeding and improving pollinator habitat.

We have run lessons for Harrington Park Public School and Cobbitty Public School students about the importance of pollinators in the ecosystem. Students made 55 bee hotels (artificial habitat) to support native bees in their urbanising landscape and discovered the enormous diversity of native bees that call the Cumberland Plain home.


Wild Wild Inner West

And into the further (but not too distant) future, the ‘Wild Wild Inner West’ project is due to launch in August. Wild Wild Inner West aims to connect people aged 18-35 with the urban wildlife around them in the City of Sydney and the Inner West council boundaries. The project will launch with a pub talk at the Oxford Tavern on Tuesday the 7th of August at 7pm. The talk will feature Associate Professor Dieter Hochuli, Professor Angela Moles, Dr Viyanna Leo and Dr Matthew Pye to talk all things urban ecology, urban wildlife and rewilding. There are a multitude of other fun events planned for Wild Wild Inner West, like an ibis talk, and a talk and canoeing trip on the Cooks River. Stay tuned for more!  


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