Stories from our citizen scientists….

We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without you! Read on to find out more about some of our citizen scientists and their experiences participating in Discovery Circle projects…

Cat Tracker project


Making the change

“We “volunteered” our chocolate Burmese Buddy [pictured] to be in the Cat Tracker Project.  While he is always in at night we were shocked to say the least at how far Buddy ventured during the day, including up to and across main roads.  This helped explain his regular “accidents” and interactions with other cats and wildlife.  6 months ago we moved from Victor harbor to inner Adelaide (Trinity Gardens) and based on what we now knew about Buddy’s day time wanderings we decided to enclose our back and side yard.  While Buddy still managed to have an accident trying to “escape” one day and damaged a paw on the back fence we are much more relaxed now that he is constrained within our property boundary.” David, Trinity Gardens

Mr Whiskers

Feline friends

“I adopted Mr Whiskers [pictured] only months after my first cat passed away. Oliver was 17 years old and died of a stroke, I’d had him since I was 11 years old. I went to the AWL not wanting a black and white cat (because I didn’t want to replace Oliver) and I wanted a boy. I missed Mr Whiskers the first time I looked at all the cats – she (yes she :-P) was hiding out of sight and only when I realised there should have been someone in that enclosure did I search deeper. She was the one: a two year old black and white girl I couldn’t leave behind. 

I took her home and she cried all the way. With Oliver’s passing still fresh I regretted my decision during that drive. She wasn’t him; what had I done? She disappeared into my house and I didn’t see her for days. I knew she was around because the food was being eaten but clearly she wanted nothing to do with me. I was distraught. But I persevered. I didn’t know what had happened to her before she’d come to the shelter, I just needed to be patient. It didn’t take long. When we’d first started getting to know each other she wouldn’t sit on my lap – she would attempt to but then hiss and move off (I like to think Oliver still had claim over that spot). It was a strange time. Fast forward six years and we’re inseparable. She follows me like a shadow. If I’m sitting down, she’s on my lap and she’s always waiting for me when I get home from work. I think I am her second favourite thing (after food of course) and I couldn’t be happier.

The Cat Tracker results shocked me. I thought she was a home body, I had no idea she wandered so far. I had an enclosure built in the backyard. Now they (I have two other cats) have access to the backyard and the house only. I won’t risk losing them – it’s too dangerous out there.” Erik, West Croyden

Edible Gardens project

Liz’s little garden story

“Hi my name is Liz, gardening has been something I have done since I was a child. Now with my husband we have 2 ½ acres at Sandy Creek. As far back as I can remember my dad would come up from working on the vineyard past the vegetable garden and orchard with produce for dinner. Nothing was ever wasted, if not passed on to family and friends, made into preserves sauces etc or frozen down. We (my brothers and I) were expected to help from young age, we called it working for our pocket money, but looking back we were being taught a lot of life lessons.

Jumping forward 35 years, we bought our own little property at Sandy Creek. Bare paddock with old hayshed and 3 gumtrees, and some desert ashes. House plans drawn up builder found and next new home for us. Whilst this was happening we started to plan our gardens. Our soil is pure sand, with rock and little bit clay on ridge, so we decided most the garden would be natives. Then up around the house is where I have my roses, some fruit trees, and other plants that require a bit more water.

Down the path to the Vegetable garden, chooks and orchard.  We started with recycled corrugated iron beds, which were great in winter, but summer only small amount of beds were useful. Mainly due to hot winds on top of the ridge. So Potting, Wood, and garden sheds were built around the garden area. So after lots of hard work, we now have enclosed vegetable garden, that produces well. We mainly grow Mediterranean type vegetables, excepting in winter when I try different seedlings. We work on 5 bed rotation system.

Our garden has had many failures, but they are opportunities to try new things. With lots of plants grown from seed, or cuttings or plants given to us by family and friends. Large areas are natives, which means for us abundant bird and wild life We have created our on slice of paradise from paddock to garden in 12 years.” Liz, Sandy Creek

Smokey & Kathy’s Patch

“Growing our own fruit and vegetables seems to us like a “normal” thing to do. Both our parents had productive gardens and they helped to feed us growing up. Of course, we realize that it is not “normal” any more. Most people no longer have the skills, space, time or motivation. But we do. It is something we have done since we have been together – 35 years!

We estimate we’ve grown about $100,000 worth of food in that time. With preserving, cooking and sharing it has certainly saved us more than this over the years.

Yes, the garden saves us money but it does much more than that. Our children helped to plant, grow and pick the produce. It taught them the value of simple things in life – including food. Our food is fresh, healthy and tasty. People often comment to us about how nice our food is compared to bought food. It is also satisfying to grow food. It’s not instant, you have your disappointments, and it can be frustrating. However, it’s rewarding when you bring in a container full of produce. We enjoy giving produce to friends.

We try to grow things that we use a lot, that grows well in our garden, that store well and is easy. We have learnt this over the years – by trial and error. Kathy usually cooks meals based on what we have produced – fresh or preserved. Our most productive plants (in order of value) are; tomatoes, apricots, peaches, zucchini, silver beet, boc choy, rhubarb, lettuce, onions, parsley, nectarines, broccoli, asparagus, oranges, beetroot, carrots and chives. We also have some things are not very productive at all.” Brian, Port Lincoln

Birding the ‘burbs project

Watching the change…

“When Judy and I went to a talk from Jim promoting participation in Birding the ‘burbs, it struck a note. We have lived for 43 years on our “1/4 acre block” in Park Holme and in recent years we have watched the big trees disappear as developers fill green leafy blocks with 3 or 4 dwellings. So we thought Jim’s project to map Adelaide’s biodiversity by bird-watching was a great idea hopefully it won’t just be a record of what we lose but may be a useful  tool for local councils and the State Government  to monitor and manage the effects of urban infill on biodiversity in urban Adelaide. We enjoy our 20 minute surveys in 10 sites across Adelaide waiting for birds to pass by and having the time to stand quietly and become acquainted with urban areas other than our own street.” Greg & Judy, Park Holme

FlukerPost project

Staying healthy in nature….

“I live about 500 metres by road access from Kaurna Park and as part of my health and wellbeing routine I take walks around the perimeter of the park, sometimes with a full backpack for the extra aerobic workout. My walks are interrupted from time to time when other priorities compete for my time. (I used to run it when I was younger). I have been doing this for some years now, having moved into the area in 2006. I grew up on a farm and have a keen interest in native flora and fauna. I love the water fowl, the native birds such as the wattle birds, the frogs after a recent rain and the odd reptile (skinks, bearded dragons, stumpy tails, blue tongues). I also recognise some of the flora and have successfully germinated seeds from old man salt bush (Atriplex nummularia) I got from the park and also enjoy munching on the odd quandong (Santalum acuminatum). I am not so thrilled to see cats, rabbits or foxes which inhabit the park. (Especially when the foxes decide to come over my back fence and kill my laying hens)

Last year I noticed  the FlukerPost but confess to walking past it on several occasions without a second thought. One day I stopped at the FlukerPost to see what it was all about and thought what a great idea. Since then I have made an effort to try and photograph the scene once a week. Occasionally my walk is before sunrise and unsuitable for photography especially with the first few weeks of daylight saving and mid-winter. On those occasions, I save a walk at a later time to specifically ensure there is sufficient light. I also started a facebook page Friends of Kaurna Park Wetlands and posted some signs in the park inviting others to join, but without success apart from a past work colleague, a daughter and a son-in-law. I commend Uni-SA for this project as not enough people take the time to appreciate the amenities we have and nature in general, of which we are a part of.” Kevin Beinke, Burton

Magpie book coverMore stories from citizen scientists?

You might like to read the two books that were published after previous UniSA citizen science projects… these books are now available online (and free):

Possum book cover

The Cat Tracker report is also filled with pictures and anecdotes from participating citizen scientists.