Look closer: the secret world of Tamara Venables

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While bushwalking is a passion shared by many of us living in the Blue Mountains, few of us know what species of plant life we pass by on our walks, and even fewer again will ever take the time to develop a detailed knowledge of the species we come into contact with. 

Not so though for Blackheath resident, Tamara Venables, who has spent the past two years photographing and documenting orchid species throughout the Blue Mountains region. In doing so, she has built up an impressive knowledge and archive of a miniature world which most of us will have never seen. 

So what was the inspiration behind this project? “I’ve always had a keen interest in the natural environment,” says Tamara.  “Most of my studies have leant in this direction, along with work choices that allow me to be outdoors. My interest in orchids stemmed from a close friendship with an orchid enthusiast and grower, coupled with a fascination for finding flowering specimens right along high traffic areas, which few people seemed to even notice.”

Since setting up a Facebook page to document her work, Tamara has expanded the site to include other species of plants and animals.  “My interests have grown to include insects as I noticed fewer insects in the environment around me, and began reading articles relating to insect biodiversity losses around the globe. I now attempt to keep a record of invertebrate species in photographs, and have extended this to include snakes and other reptiles. Over the course of time I couldn’t help but take an interest in the fungi found all around me, and another photographic world opened up to me. Another field of names and species to learn.” 

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Tamara is part of the Wentworth Falls team of BMWHI’s longitudinal Citizen Science Climate Change Monitoring program, which monitors changes to flora and fauna in the upper Blue Mountains region. 

“I jumped on the opportunity to be part of a program dedicated to collecting and recording data, for the purposes of noting climate related changes to our local environment” says Tamara. “It’s a topic close to my heart, and to be involved is a great privilege”.

If you would like to be part of BMWHI’s citizen science monitoring program contact John Merson at j.merson@bmwhi.org.au or Paul Vale at: bushcare@bluemountains.org.au