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).
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.
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%.
No. of Cats Records
Percentage of Cats
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.
Another great turnout of 34 volunteers for this year’s survey, our annual Lyrebird Survey is by far our most popular activity and once again we were able to cover all 16 monitoring sites.
Weather conditions were quite good, at 5.30am heading up to Balook there was a substantial amount of moonlight with a clear sky and some cold air, At Balook however it was darker because of cloud cover blocking the moonlight and there was a slight breeze in the treetops.
Our full crew of volunteers arrived in good time and by 6.30am everyone had arrived and signed in and by 6.45am everyone had been briefed on their tasks and had headed out in the dark to their assigned monitoring stations.
Once in position there ended up being quite an unexpectedly long wait until Lyrebird calls were first heard, only a couple of locations recorded birds calling before 7am; which was when the majority of the sites started hearing birds, the latest any group had to wait to record any calls was 7.10am. Last year (2017) every site had birds calling by 6.55am.
The official sunrise time for Saturday June 2nd at Balook was 7.22am and first light was scheduled to appear at 6.52am which was almost identical to last year.
From our results we detected 8 birds calling in our search area, this figure was slightly down on recent years. It is hard to read too much into one years results but potentially the dry summer and autumn we have experience may be having an impact. Most birds appeared to be calling from forest areas with established Eucalyptus over-storey or rainforest. It would be great if some action can be taken to re-establish the original canopy species into areas of the park that have been degraded.
As usual we only count birds that are detected by at least 2 monitoring stations and some stations heard birds calling that were not in our survey area so are not included in the final tally.
Thanks again to AGL who generously supported the breakfast provided for the early rising volunteers.
Lyrebird Survey Results Summary Table 2010-2018
Number of Males Calling
(out of 16)
Windy making it hard to hear calls, especially in the more exposed sites.
Still and Calm
Wet, may have discouraged birds from calling. Several males sighted feeding but not calling.