For almost forty years, local ecologists Dr Judy Smith and Dr Peter Smith have observed and collated records of the birds and other animals living in the bush next to their Blaxland home.
And now they have celebrated those animals in their book Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, published with the help of a 2015 Australian Government Community Heritage and Icons grant.
As the 20th anniversary of the World Heritage area listing of the Greater Blue Mountains approaches next year; Judy, Peter and their daughter Kate (who provided stunning illustrations for the book) believe it is time to take stock of the local fauna whose diversity, scientific value and conservation importance are significant at an international level.
"The book is the first comprehensive account of the native vertebrae fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains," Judy said. "It describes the World Heritage area's environment and fauna habitats."
The status, local distribution and ecology of each of the 432 native fauna species recorded in the area since European settlement are given, including 68 mammal, 254 bird, 74 reptile and 36 frog species.
"This fauna is an important part of the outstanding biodiversity which is recognised by the Greater Blue Mountains' World Heritage listing," Judy said.
A map and a satellite image help depict the vastness of the region which covers roughly one third the area of Belgium and encompasses Blue Mountains, Gardens of Stone, Kanangra-Boyd, Nattai, Thirlmere Lakes, Wollemi and Yengo National Parks and Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve, Peter added.
Judy said the couple had great help from local amateur and professional naturalists who had generously shared their fauna observations.
"Field surveys undertaken over many years by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, on-ground managers of the World Heritage area, have also provided invaluable information," she added.
Sadly a few animals are now gone from the Greater Blue Mountains - including the broad toothed rat and rat kangaroo - and are known only from the writings of early explorers and travelers, or from traces left in skeletal remains at places like Jenolan Caves. A growing number of local fauna species, at last count 73 species, are considered threatened.
Judy said she's concerned their grandchildren may miss out on the same experiences she had as a child - spotlighting for greater gliders or being surrounded by swarms of gang gang cockatoos.
"That distresses me," Judy said.
They hope the book encourages a deeper understanding of local fauna and a will to conserve it.
The 172 page book, with 200 of Peter's photos, sells for $35 and is available via email email@example.com or at Mountains bookshops.
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