2023 Invertebrate Survey (Bugblitz) Report

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.

Eusthenia venosa (Stonefly)

2022 Bioblitz Report

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.

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The following Table shows the range of lifeforms we recorded on the day.

Table shows the range of lifeforms we recorded on the day.

Tarra-Bulga Bioblitz

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.

Anyway if you would like to join in we will kick off at 10am but you are welcome to come and go at any time. If the weather is suitable we will put up a light sheet in the evening which should attract a lot of night flying insect species. Registration is via ParkConnect https://www.parkconnect.vic.gov.au/Volunteer/public-planned-activity/?id=6768c4d9-446c-ec11-b820-0003ff6f999a

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. 

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Bioblitz – Sunday February 14th

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: friendsoftarrabulga@gmail.com You can also register via ParkConnect https://bit.ly/39VtMRV

Image showing a range of different species.

2019 Lyrebird Survey Results

Conditions were fortunately very good after a wild week of strong winds, rain and even a dusting of snow on the Wednesday. As a result  of the snow many fern fronds have been crushed down and were providing an obstacle along the walking tracks. The temperature was relatively mild and although you could hear the wind in the tree-tops it was not that strong. First Light was predicted at 6:52 am and the official sunrise time was 7:21.

We had 38 volunteers which was more the enough to cover all 16 monitoring locations. After meeting at 6.15 am everyone was briefed and out into the field by 6:40. Kookaburras were the first birds to start calling and were very active and noisy for quite a while. It seemed like quite a long wait until we heard our first Lyrebird at 6:58 am. Most volunteers had vacated their sites by around 7:15 am and people started filing into the Guest House for breakfast by about 7:25.

The results were collated this year during Google Earth.  The bottom of Lyrebird Ridge seemed to be quite active as well as the points around the suspension bridge and the Bulga Carpark. other sites were much quieter with only one or two calls heard.

Using our call triangulation method there ended up being a couple of anomalies with the results that made the certainty of the existence of a couple of birds 100% certain. (e.g  2 monitoring sites heard it calling but a closer one did not). Overall though we came up with a total of 9 birds calling for 2019 (which is one more than last year).

Lyrebird Survey Results updated 2019
Lyrebird Location Map 2019
Map of Lyrebird Survey Results 2019

Lyrebird Mound in the Tarra Valley

Thanks to group members Martin and Bernadette for letting us use this great camera footage they captured from a very busy Lyrebird mound just near the park in the Tarra Valley. The video catches a male Lyrebird at the peak of the breeding season, strutting his stuff in a full display.

Cats in Tarra-Bulga National Park

Although they are not often seen by visitors, feral and domestic cats are established predators at Tarra-Bulga National Park and our remote camera results suggest they are becoming more common.

The table below shows results from five years of remote camera monitoring carried out by the Friends of Tarra-Bulga Park. Cat numbers as a percentage of total species recorded rose dramatically from 0.7 to 3.9%.

Year201220132014201520162017
No. of Cats Records163364594164
Total Records220828984827380413521638
Percentage of Cats0.7%1.1%1.3%1.6%3.0%3.9%

The impact these cats are having on the birds, small mammals and reptiles is a real concern. Although there are many variables in the ways we set up our cameras, the general trend in the last few years is for them to be detecting greater numbers of cats and less small native mammals (e.g. Antechinus and Bush Rats). Sadly we have also been detecting less of the smaller birds such as Pilotbirds and White-browed Scrubwrens. (For a summary of sightings of others species download this Percentage of sightings per year for commonly detected species captured in remote camera photos )

The gallery below shows that cats in Tarra-Bulga range from large ferals and panther look-alikes to small (some might say cute) looking kittens, some even have collars. What is undeniable though, is that their presence has a major impact on the ecology of Tarra-Bulga National Park.

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