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%.

Year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
No. of Cats Records 16 33 64 59 41 64
Total Records 2208 2898 4827 3804 1352 1638
Percentage of Cats 0.7% 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.

 

2017 Lyrebird Survey Results

271A4102 copya
A bumper crew  for this years survey.
  • We had a fantastic turnout of volunteers, which meant that all 16 sites could be covered with at least 2 volunteers at each site. (This is the first time we have covered all 16 sites since at least 2010).
  • Weather conditions were ideal (2nd year running) with little or no wind to muffle the sound of calls and it was not really all that cold!
  • Everyone got out to their respective positions in time; the earliest call was heard at 6.49am and by 6.55am every monitoring station had Lyrebirds calling.
  • The official sunrise time for Saturday Jun 3rd at Balook was 7.23am and first light was scheduled to appear at 6.53am. So, it seems Lyrebirds are fairly well tuned to begin calling at first light.
  • From our results, we detected 11 male birds calling, (not sure if it would be possibly with our method to detect two birds calling in close proximity to each other, but a couple of stations noted the possibility that they could possibly hear multiple birds calling from around the same direction.
  • Note: we only count birds that are detected by at least 2 monitoring stations.
  • This is our second highest number of birds recorded since at least 2010.
  • Thanks to AGL who helped to pay for the breakfast.

 

  • Results Tablea

Summary of results for the last 8 years.

Lyrebird Count 2017 150dpi

2017 Lyrebird Survey

Don’t miss your chance to be involved with Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park Annual Lyrebird Survey. This year it will be held on Saturday, June the 3rd. The meeting point for all volunteers is the park visitors centre at 6.15 am. The Survey takes only 30 minutes from the time the sun rises and the birds start calling, Straight after the count a free breakfast for all volunteers will be provided at the Lyrebird Cafe. To secure your place please email friendsoftarrabulga@gmail.com or call David on 0488035314 by Wednesday 31/5/2017

Lyrebird Survey 2017

2016 Lyrebird Survey Results

In the pre-dawn darkness on Saturday the 18th of June, twenty-five volunteers and one Park Ranger were greeted with perfectly calm conditions for Tarra-Bulga National Park’s Annual  Lyrebird Survey. Overnight showers had passed by leaving moist dripping foliage in their wake.

The survey is designed to monitor the density of Lyrebirds living in 60ha comprising of wet sclerophyll and cool temperate rainforest immediately to the east of the Tarra-Bulga National Park Visitors Centre. There are sixteen monitoring points strategically placed throughout the site and volunteers move to each site before adult male Lyrebirds start their morning calls at dawn. Volunteers then use a compass to record the direction and proximity of the Lyrebird calls. This year we had enough volunteers to cover all but one of the monitoring points.

2016 Lyrebird Survey
2016 Lyrebird Survey crew ready for action.

Following the survey, lines representing the direction of the calls are plotted onto a map, and triangulation is used to establish the spots where birds were calling from. This year the results indicate we had at least nine (male) Lyrebirds calling in our 60ha zone. This corresponds to a density of one adult male Lyrebird per 6.7 ha. You can also assume that there will be female lyrebirds and immature males or non-calling males within our target area. To account for this to get our overall population of Lyrebirds we multiply the number of calling males by a factor of 2.5. It is believed that male Lyrebirds do not begin to breed until they are around 6 or 7 years old.

Summary of Tarra-Bulga National Park Lyrebird Surveys

Summary of Tarra-Bulga National Park Lyrebird Surveys

2016 Survey Map
Map showing bearings taken from monitoring points and the estimated location of calling male Lyrebirds from the 2016 survey.

 

 

Tarra-Bulga National Park on Bowerbird.org.au

With the rise of information technology and social media there is now an assortment of worthy projects that volunteers or “citizen scientists” can join in with. One of the best in our estimation is www.bowerbird.org.au which is a wonderful tool for uploading any photos of flora or fauna that you may encounter. Not only can other users of Bowerbird assist you by using their knowledge to aid you with the identification of unfamiliar sightings you upload. Once fully identified to species level the sightings are then included as permanent records on the Atlas of Living Australia (ala.org.au) and which has an online searchable database with an amazing range of features, Bowerbird now has over forty thousand species records with peoples’ images from across Australia loaded onto the site and in its own right has virtually become a free online field guide.

Bowerbird users come from all over Australia with a strong representation from people in Gippsland so it is a great way of seeing what other local people are finding including a range of fascinating insects and fungi. There is the opportunity to create your own projects on Bowerbird and henceforth we have created a project for Tarra-Bulga National Park. To date we have around 320 sightings uploaded and identified with 5 different contributors. Morwell National Park also has a project which impressively has now over 1200 diverse records. So if you are a budding naturalist or just like looking at cool images of things like fungi, plants and insects check out http://www.bowerbird.org.au/projects/5665/sightings  and if you feel inclined please feel free to add your own.

Bowerbird Project
This is an screenshot of our Tarra-Bulga National Park Project Page on Bowerbird.org.au from earlier this year.

 

 

 

How our Lyrebird Count Operates

The Annual Lyrebird Survey at Tarra-Bulga National Park has been carried out for the last 20 years as a means of detecting any changes of the population of the birds, within an area of the park covering from around the visitors centre area to the rainforest gully at the headwaters of Macks Ck. Although Lyrebirds are not considered endangered, they are at risk from natural disasters such as bushfires, habitat decline and attack from foxes, feral animals and domestic cats and dogs. The annual survey contributes to long term data on the density of the local population and helps park management plan their future management actions.

Superb Lyrebird
Superb Lyrebird calling from a tree branch.

The Lyrebirds are counted not by attempting to spot them visually, but by listening out for their song. (Sometimes you may be lucky enough to see a bird but often they are out of sight perched in a tree canopy or in ferny understorey). The survey is undertaken during the Lyrebirds’ breeding season. At this time mature male Lyrebirds are all actively searching for females to mate with and it is during this time when they are reliably singing for much of the day. The survey is consistently undertaken at dawn (when the wind is often calmer and the Lyrebirds begin their morning calls, usually while perched up in a tree).

The count is carried out by distributing groups of volunteers across the survey area at

Pre Count Briefing
Volunteers gathering before the count.

established monitoring points. Each of these points is marked with a numbered sign so that they can be found in the pre-dawn light. As the sun rises and the Lyrebirds start singing their varied repertoire, the volunteers use a compass to establish the direction the calls are coming from and estimate the distance (close, medium or far) that the call is coming from. The survey lasts for approximately 30 minutes, after which the volunteers generally go off and enjoy breakfast at the aptly named Lyrebird Cafe.

Once the survey is completed survey sheets are collected and the direction the calls were coming from are plotted as lines onto a map, where lines coming from several surrounding monitoring points meet, we can be confident that it is a location where a male Lyrebird was calling from.

Lyrebird count 2015 results
Volunteers gathering before the count.
Lyrebird count compass bearings
Instructions on how to use a compass to find the direction the Lyrebird is calling from.