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. 

 

Remote Camera Results Updated to include 2015

Overall total number of species sightings – all cameras

  2012 2013 2014 2015
Antechinus 79 106 86 59
Bassian Thrush 198 198 934 719
Brown Gerygone 0 0 1 2
Brown Thornbill 0 3 0 5
Brush Bronzewing 3 21 590 1356
Common Blackbird 27 16 183 145
Common Bronzewing 0 1 5 0
Common Brushtail Possum 75 13 0 5
Crimson Rosella 7 8 284 5
Cuckoo Fantailed 0 0 0 2
Dog 0 1 1 0
Eastern Whipbird 31 20 143 137
Eastern Yellow Robin 3 4 11 12
Echidna 24 24 63 107
Fantail, Grey 0 3 0 0
Fantail, Rufous 3 3 7 0
Feral Cat 24 49 95 99
Fox 191 323 336 140
Grey Currawong 7 16 23 7
Grey Shrike-Thrush 3 3 8 0
Human 0 0 1 0
Koala 3 14 118 75
Kookaburra 0 9 4 17
Large Billed Scrubwren 0 0 0 2
Long Nosed Bandicoot 287 119 270 652
Lyrebird 486 902 1809 973
Magpie 3 0 0 0
Mountain Brushtail Possum 181 235 243 289
Olive Whistler 7 15 7 10
Pied Currawong 3 6 10 8
Pilotbird 21 50 136 217
Rabbit 191 58 34 90
Rattus Species 120 213 222 189
Raven Species 0 1 4 0
Ring-tailed Possum 7 85 29 67
Satin Bowerbird 21 8 3 5
Sugar Glider 0 4 1 0
Superb Fairy-wren 3 5 66 7
Swamp Wallaby 749 1382 1112 677
Tawny Frogmouth 0 0 3 0
Wedge-tailed Eagle 3 0 0 0
White-browed Scrubwren 89 71 264 130
White Throated Tree-creeper 0 0 4 3
Wombat 202 234 176 130

Without any advanced statistical scrutiny strong trends include:Our remote camera monitoring has now reached four solid years of records. Although not a flawless scientifically planned project there are still be some interesting developments. The table above shows the total sightings of each species combined across all of the camera sites. There are many variables in these results, the main one being that cameras have been moved around different habitats at different times, so have not constantly been in the one place.

  • A massive rise in the number of Brush Bronzewings every year.
  • A rise in the number of other ground dwelling bird species including Bassian Thrushes, Pilotbirds, Eastern Whipbirds and Common Blackbirds.
  • An increase in the number of Long-nosed Bandicoots (although this may be explained by moving cameras to areas where habitat is more suitable).
  • Crimson Rosellas had a huge spike in numbers in 2014 (maybe because there was a lot of wattle seed on the ground?)
  • An upward trend in Echidna and Feral Cat numbers.
  • A drop in Fox numbers in 2015.
  • 2014 had double the amount of Lyrebird sightings than other years.

Several cameras have been left in the same spot for several years and it is possible to compare the results of these sites with the overall figures.

Site: Tarra Bulga – North East

Habitat: Mountain Ash forest with an open understorey consisting of scattered shrubs, ferns and grasses:

Species 2013 2014 2015
Antechinus 0 23 3
Bassian Thrush 36 298 209
Brown Gerygone 0 1 0
Brush Bronzewing 1 121 102
Common Blackbird 5 103 41
Common Bronzewing 1 0 0
Eastern Whipbird 4 79 98
Eastern Yellow Robin 0 1 2
Echidna 5 8 11
Fantail, Rufous 1 0 0
Feral Cat 3 6 16
Fox 40 68 17
Grey Currawong 1 0 0
Grey Shrike-Thrush 1 1 0
Koala 11 0 2
Long Nosed Bandicoot 38 13 8
Lyrebird 106 145 159
Mountain Brushtail Possum 8 10 16
Pied Currawong 2 0 0
Pilotbird 1 23 11
Rabbit 35 11 14
Rattus Species 10 44 65
Ring-tailed Possum 4 0 2
Satin Bowerbird 2 1 0
Swamp Wallaby 55 30 17
White Throated Tree-creeper 0 0 2
White-browed Scrubwren 3 39 24
Wombat 27 53 29

 

Site: West of Balook

Habitat – Forest with an open understorey, canopy consists of mature Silver Wattle.

Species 2013 2014 2015
Bassian Thrush 0 7 26
Brown Thornbill 0 0 1
Brush Bronzewing 10 45 272
Common Blackbird 6 5 1
Common Bronzewing 0 4 0
Crimson Rosella 0 122 3
Eastern Whipbird 1 0 6
Eastern Yellow Robin 0 1 2
Echidna 3 10 2
Fantail, Rufous 0 1 0
Feral Cat 27 22 17
Fox 64 111 53
Grey Currawong 3 5 1
Koala 0 79 30
Kookaburra 10 3 9
Long Nosed Bandicoot 17 0 3
Lyrebird 237 510 116
Mountain Brushtail Possum 46 11 7
Olive Whistler 0 0 1
Pied Currawong 1 4 3
Pilotbird 0 5 7
Rabbit 6 0 2
Raven Species 1 1 0
Rattus Species 0 0 1
Satin Bowerbird 0 0 2
Sugar Glider 0 1 0
Superb Fairy-wren 0 1 0
Swamp Wallaby 955 374 179
Tawny Frogmouth 0 2 0
White Throated Tree-creeper 0 1 0
White-browed Scrubwren 3 18 3
Wombat 54 16 20

Comments: The open nature of this site means it is less suited to small mammals. Popular site for Swamp Wallabies to congregate. Openness also suits many ground feeding birds scratching around or eating fallen seeds. Foxes and cats often pass through. Has been a Koala habitually passing the camera every few days between its favourite trees.

 

Site: Balook Area

Habitat: Open forest with regenerating Mountain Ash, Ferny understorey with some thick scrubby patches near by.

 

Species 2013 2014 2015
Antechinus 0 5 9
Bassian Thrush 9 276 222
Brush Bronzewing 0 101 303
Common Blackbird 0 38 65
Cuckoo Fantailed 0 0 1
Crimson Rosella 0 71 0
Dog 0 1 0
Eastern Whipbird 0 19 13
Eastern Yellow Robin 0 4 3
Echidna 4 1 2
Feral Cat 4 29 17
Fox 136 38 5
Grey Currawong 0 3 0
Grey Shrike-Thrush 0 1 0
Koala 0 3 2
Long Nosed Bandicoot 6 149 168
Lyrebird 123 145 45
Mountain Brushtail Possum 95 73 79
Olive Whistler 0 4 4
Pied Currawong 0 0 2
Pilotbird 2 51 117
Rabbit 17 14 45
Rattus Species 11 79 23
Ring-tailed Possum 19 0 1
Satin Bowerbird 6 0 1
Superb Fairy-wren 0 1 4
Swamp Wallaby 136 184 151
White-browed Scrubwren 0 19 21
Wombat 108 25 14

Comment: Good site for a diversity of species, some scrubby ground-cover in the area makes it a good spot for Bandicoots, with a high proportion of our Bandicoots sightings recorded here. Also good for introduced Common Blackbirds and Rabbits that like to hide in cover. Like other sites had a big spike in Crimson Rosella numbers in 2014. Interestingly large drop in Fox numbers.

2015 Lyrebird Survey

Lyrebird Count 2015 photoOur annual Lyrebird survey is coming up on Saturday May 30th. The meeting place is at the Tarra Bulga National Park Visitors Centre at 6.15 am. On arrival the recording process is explained and people are allocated to various monitoring points around the Bulga Park area.

The survey begins at sunrise with the first Lyrebird calls and only takes around half an hour. Following the morning chorus, a free cooked breakfast is on offer at the Tarra-Bulga Guest House. If you would like to come along you need to contact us (by Wednesday May the 27th on 0488 035 314 or email friendsoftarrabulga@gmail.com. Wear warm clothing, a parka, bring a watch, a torch and compass (optional).

Lyrebird Numbers Up, Brush Bronze-wing Population Explodes! Remote Camera Results 2014

Friends of Tarra-Bulga have now been using remote cameras within the park to monitor wildlife for over three years. The table below shows results adjusted for the number of days cameras have been active in the field. We currently have eight cameras that are moved around to different sites on a regular basis. As of January 2015 the cameras had spent a combined total of over 5000 days in the field and were triggered by animal movements over 10,000 times.

Feral Cat with a Sugar Glider

Feral Cat numbers have risen

The results show a number of interesting trends. For mammals most species have not varied much in the frequency of sightings over the 3 years with a few exceptions. There was a large jump in Koala sightings in 2014 most were at one site where a Koala developed a routine of passing by every couple of days. Feral Cat numbers have risen each year and Ring-tailed Possum sightings seem to have declined. (the figures for Ring-tails have been influenced heavily by one popular site).

Lyrebird

Lyrebirds captures by our cameras doubled each year.

There has been a massive jump in the numbers of birds that the cameras are detecting. The number Lyrebirds passing cameras have doubled each year. Bassian Thrush (Zoothera lunulata) sightings increased around 600% in 2014 and Brush Bronze-wing numbers skyrocketed from only 15 sightings in 2013 up to 404. Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Whipbirds, Pilotbirds and *Common Blackbirds all had a significant rise in detection. Two smaller species the White-browed Scrubwren and the Superb Fairy Wren were also ‘captured’ more often.

Brush Bronzewing

We have had massive increase in the number of Brush Bronzewings recorded.

A reason for the jump in bird numbers may be due to camera placement. One site used in 2014 was very popular for ground dwelling bird, however this does not fully explain the rise, other camera sites were used in both years and showed a big increase ground dwelling birds from 2013. Fox control efforts in recent years may also be a factor helping the birds numbers increase. Our results have picked up a small rise in Fox numbers over the last few years. As our monitoring continues, time will tell if this greater abundance of bird sightings will be maintained.

Species 2012 2013 2014
Lyrebird 319 618 1239
Bassian Thrush 136 135 639
White-browed Scrubwren 61 49 181
Eastern Whipbird 21 14 98
Pilotbird 14 35 93
Satin Bowerbird 14 5 2
Crimson Rosella 5 5 195
Grey Currawong 5 11 16
Olive Whistler 5 9 5
Brush Bronzewing 2 15 404
Eastern Yellow Robin 2 3 8
Fantail, Rufous 2 2 5
Grey Shrike-Thrush 2 3 6
Magpie 2 0 0
Pied Currawong 2 4 7
Superb Fairy-wren 2 3 45
Wedge tailted Eagle 2 0 0
Brown Gerygone 0 0 1
Brown Thornbill 0 2 0
Common Bronzewing 0 1 4
Fantail, Grey 0 2 0
Kookaburra 0 6 3
Raven Species 0 1 3
Tawny Frogmouth 0 0 2
White Throated Tree-creeper 0 0 3
Fox 131 220 229
Rabbit 126 39 24
Common Blackbird 19 10 125
Feral Cat 16 33 64
Human 0 0 1
Swamp Wallaby 513 947 761
Long Nosed Bandicoot 197 81 185
Brushtail Possum 176 171 169
Wombat 138 160 120
Rattus Species 82 146 152
Antechinus 54 73 59
Echidna 16 16 43
Ring-tailed Possum 5 58 20
Koala 2 9 81
Dog 0 1 1
Sugar Glider 0 3 1
Unidentifiable Bird 103 101 119
Small Mammal – Unidentifiable 47 67 44
Large Mammal – Unidentifiable 33 16 29

Winter

When is the best time of year to visit Tarra-Bulga? I would argue any time of year could be the answer as each season tends to bring its own particular highlights.

In spring you have lots of fresh new growth and it is the peak time to catch most things in flower. In summer the shady rainforest gullies are an ideal retreat from the heat. In autumn, the diversity of fungi adds to the experience. In winter, everything is lush and green. After rain, cascading mini waterfalls in unexpected places can add to the spectacle. It is also the time when Lyrebirds are putting on displays.