One of our most popular volunteer activities is coming up on Saturday May 31st. The survey, which monitors trends in the Lyrebird population involves an early start. 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 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 ranger Craig Campbell (by Wednesday May the 28th on 5172 2508 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Wear warm clothing, a parka, bring a watch, a torch and compass (optional).
Here’s a breakdown for you all showing the species that triggered our remote cameras last year. The lower number of detection in the later part of the year can be explained by a few issues that we had with dodgy SD cards causing the batteries to conk out prematurely. Can’t explain why the Wallaby numbers vary so much each month. Some of the other species e.g. Lyrebirds, seem much more evenly represented over the year.
Breakdown of Remote Camera
Triggers – Tarra Bulga National Park 2013
If you have seen the episode on song birds on the ABC program “Hello Birdy” you would have probably enjoyed the segment on Lyrebirds and their ability to mimic other birds etc. Here is an interesting video from the researcher interviewed on the show. It is regarding the male Lyrebirds song and dance routine when doing a display.
Thought we would share this video from our YouTube Channel today. It was put together from our last lot of remote camera photos. Probably not a rare event given the abundance of the species, but our camera was well placed to capture the moment.
The recent news involving a Sea Eagle flying off with a remote camera in the Kimberley has inspired us to put together this video of a Superb Lyrebird, that seemed to think the reflection in the front of the camera was a rival and hence went to war. This happened in September 2012 and thankfully we have not had a repeat. However we did stop putting cameras quite so close to the ground.
The Friends of Tarra Bulga hosted a very interesting and enjoyable day on Saturday when we welcomed a guest Dr. Kath Handasyde, who is a Senior Lecturer at Melbourne University and specialises in wildlife ecology, management and diseases. Starting with a yummy BBQ lunch we then proceeded into the visitors centre where Kath gave a fantastic insight into the management of Koala populations in South Eastern Australia.
The major issues facing Victorian Koalas is overpopulation, this problem occurs mainly on island locations or in mainland areas where there were trans-locations or re-introductions into areas with isolated or fragmented habitat. In extreme cases in these locations habitat trees are being completely denuded with catastrophic consequences for not only the Koalas but for the whole ecology of these places. Kath outlined the success researchers have had in developing slow release hormonal implants that have been a successful contraceptive for females; it seems like where they have been applied to a sufficient percentage of the population that there has been some success in maintaining more sustainable Koala populations. Management of these crowded populations however is a very intensive process and while the contraceptive implants, make the process more efficient, it is a struggle to have enough management resources to keep up with the areas in crisis (e.g. Cape Otway).
It seems locally that we are lucky that our local Koala populations are not having over-population issues. We have a relatively low density of Koalas, thought to be because of the higher altitudes and cooler temperatures making it harder for Koalas (who can’t shelter in tree hollows like many other species) to consume enough energy to meet their needs. This probably means the local ones have a shorter life-span (a limiting factor on a Koala’s life is their teeth, when they have worn out they can no longer process enough food).
The quality of the local food is also thought to be a factor that controls the population. Manna Gums are not widespread and they rely mainly locally on species such as Mountain Grey Gum which possibly don’t have the same nutritional value. In the local region there are also fairly good linkages between habitat areas, meaning that populations can disperse successfully if crowding becomes an issue in one site. In some areas habitat linkages are mainly along roadside vegetation, meaning road deaths are common. The local population is also though to have greater genetic diversity than the rest of the state, so this should mean the population has greater resilience, although the animals in the rest of the state are still generally very hardy robust animals. Our monitoring program will also help to keep tabs on any changes in the local Koala population levels.
After the talks some of us headed out in convoy to the Tarra Falls car park and then did a loop walk starting by going up Diaper TK. At the start of the walk we unfortunately copped an instant onslaught of Leeches, but that was offset by the scenery and the two species of Bird Orchid in flower in the middle of the track. Kath used her all her spotting senses to discover some Koala droppings (Scats), but we did not get a live sighting today; not that surprising given that spotting is quite difficult given the tall towering trees and healthy canopy that make up the local habitat as well as the fact that we don’t have a high population density. All in all it was a great day, and a big thanks has to go out to Kath who made the big effort to come down here and share her extensive knowledge.