On Saturday 18th of February, Friends of Tarra Bulga National Park held our annual invertebrate Survey (Bugblitz). Conditions were good with temperatures in the low to mid twenties. Around a dozen eager participants, including a few members of the Entomological Society of Victoria were ready to go bug hunting when I arrived at the Visitor Centre just after 2pm (a few minutes late). The Visitor Centre was a great place to start because while they were waiting, some observant people had noticed an abundance of insects that were roosting on the walls and windows, it was unusual to see a hundred or more fresh looking Geometrid moths. These moths turned out to be a species called Chrysolarentia lucidulata (Lucid moth), most of them were perched on verandah beams.
Once we had admired the visitor centre bugs we set off as a group along Lyrebird Ridge Track. We had a beating sheet with us to catch insects we tried to dislodge by lightly beating likely looking bushes. The sheet was unnecessary to start with because several sharp eyed children amongst our group were very skilled at spotting enough tiny creatures to keep everyone interested, including some young Katydids and a variety of caterpillars. We continued our survey on towards the suspension bridge and the group eventually thinned out as understandably the younger ones began to tire. The beating sheet was then put into more use and continued to produce new and interesting observations. By the time we had completed a relatively short loop back to the visitors centre it was around 5.15pm (so we covered about 2km of ground in 3hrs). A few of us stayed around and had some dinner but apart from myself, all the afternoon crew then departed. Prior to Dusk Ken and Matt from Friends of Morwell National Park (as well as the Entomological Society of Victoria) arrived. I set up a light sheet in the Visitors Centre car park and Ken and Matt set up one at the top of the Bulga Picnic area road (which is currently closed). The wind had been a little breezy during the day, thankfully it become lighter in the evening, which meant less flapping for the light sheets. Out of the two light sheets for some reason the one at the Visitor Centre area attracted more activity. While I saw a little more sheet action, Matt and Ken were lucky enough to have a Boobook owl come and perch nearby to observe their activities. Ken and Matt kept their light going until just before 11pm and I continued recording until just after midnight.
It took a couple of weeks for all of the observations to get added to iNaturalist but overall we recorded at least 180 species of Arthropods, on the same activity last year we recorded 158 species (we had our light sheet in the Tarra Valley). As a result of our efforts we increased the number of Arthropod species recorded in the Park on iNaturalist from 745 to 776 (so we added 21 new species to the list). The following slideshow has some of the species recorded in Tarra-Bulga National Park for the first time on iNaturalist. To see all of the observations on iNaturalist from the day click here.
On Sunday July 10th we held our first Mid Winter Walk with the aim of learning more about some of the ferns, mosses, liverworts and lichens that are often overlooked features of the biodiversity in Tarra-Bulga National Park. If you want to see the full complement of photos from the day check out the Tarra-Bulga National Park project on iNaturalist. You may be even be able to help with identifying some. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?q=Mid%20Winter%20Walk%202022&search_on=tags Otherwise you can check out the photos here to get an idea of what we saw. Although we were not specifically looking at fungi we did also come across a lot of photogenic fungi so some photos of them have also been included.
Note that it can be difficult to identify Mosses and Liverworts (both different groups of plats) in the field, some species need microscopic examination to see their features. Ferns are a bit easier as they are larger and although they dominate the landscape there are only around 40 species in the park. Lichens are not actually plants but are are organisms composed of fungal and photosynthetic partners.
Volunteers spent the day and night On Saturday February 5th using a range of techniques to see what living things could be found. From the day a whopping 428 observations were added to the Tarra-Bulga National Park project on the citizen science website www.iNaturalist.org. A number of plant and fungi species were recorded, but the vast majority of records were for an amazing array of insects and other invertebrates. Many finds that were uploaded to the website are still to be identified but so far, we can confirm that we have recorded at least 215 different species for the day, roughly 60 of them had never previously been recorded at Tarra-Bulga.
The day’s focus was mainly on invertebrates, other planned activities for the year aim to add to the flora and fauna records for the park, these include a fungi foray in May, a mid-winter walk looking at ferns and mosses, and a plant identification day as well as bird survey in spring. As well as these activities, Friends of Tarra-Bulga hold regular working bees and are always on the lookout for people interested in joining our crew of volunteers that staff the park Visitor Centre.
The following Table shows the range of lifeforms we recorded on the day.
It’s not too late to sign up for our Bio-blitz. This Saturday (February 5th) Where we will aim to record as many species of any lifeform (Insects, Birds, Plants, Fungi etc) we can find on the day. We will use the Citizen Science Website/App iNaturalist https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/ to log our findings. Conveniently the site already has a Tarra-Bulga National Park project set up that automatically records any sightings made within the Park. https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/…/tarra-bulga-national-park
As you can see it is well established already with 5.350 observations and 1,170 species recorded. We will aim to use a number of survey techniques to find as many species as possible. I think 200 species would be a good result for the day.
With iNaturalist you can download the App and upload sightings directly from a phone or you can upload any photos you take on a camera when you get back home and upload them via the website later on. If you don’t want to log your own sightings feel free to just come along and observe.
Do bring food for the day, as well as any cameras, binoculars etc that you would like to use. Contact 0488 035 314 for further information.
On Sunday May 9th we held a fungi foray starting at Bulga Park. The conditions were favourable and we had a great turn out with 30 people signed up and ready to go at 9.30am. After an introductory presentation we set off for a very slow loop down to the suspension bridge, returning via the Fern Gully and Link Tracks. Understandably some families with small children and others with Mother’s day lunch commitments dropped out along the way, but even on a short walk they would have experienced a wide variety of fungi displaying their spore bodies.
It has been a big job documenting the finds, between my daugher and I we have added over 170 sightings to iNaturalist for the day https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/tarra-bulga-national-park This includes sightings from the Tarra Valley (I couldn’t resist checking out what fungi could be seen there as I was going past on my way home). Overall the total species recorded to date is 68! I wonder if anyone that attended has got photos of species that we missed? Anyway enjoy the gallery below which contains some examples of the variety of fungi seen on the day.
For anyone that is interested, Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park are going to hold a Bioblitz on Sunday February 14th. The day is intended to be a fun and casual way to start off our activities for the year. We will aim to use cameras to record anything of interest we find. The results can then potentially be added to Citizen Science apps such as the Tarra Bulga National Park project on iNaturalist https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/tarra-bulga-national-park . If the weather conditions are suitable, we will also run a light sheet to attract moths and other insects on the Sunday evening.
Anyone is welcome to attend, no prior experience or knowledge is necessary. The official start time is 10am at the Visitors Centre but you could potentially join in at any time on the day. Just bring along any food or drinks you need for the day as well as any cameras, phones, binoculars etc you may have lying around. For more information or to register your interest in attending you can contact 0488 035 314 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org You can also register via ParkConnect https://bit.ly/39VtMRV
One of the stunning features of Tarra-Bulga National Park’s cool temperate rainforest gullies is the amazing array of mosses and liverworts. These delicate plants are often tiny and identifying them can be a significant challenge. Kara Healey was a renowned caretaker(Ranger) in the Tarra Valley in the 1950’s. She dedicated a lot of her time to collecting specimens of a wide range of lifeforms in within the park and sending them off to herbariums and other institutions to be identified and catalogued. Her efforts resulted in the Tarra Valley having one of the most comprehensive lists of its flora and fauna out of any park in the state. We have recently obtained some scans of collections she made way back in the 1950’s. It is incredible that they are so well preserved after all this time. Enjoy! and for anyone who is into studying mosses and liverworts out there – this might be a very useful resource.