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.

 

 

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. 

 

Feral Cat with a Sugar Glider

Remote Camera Results Updated to include 2015

Overall total number of species sightings – all cameras

2012201320142015
Antechinus791068659
Bassian Thrush198198934719
Brown Gerygone0012
Brown Thornbill0305
Brush Bronzewing3215901356
Common Blackbird2716183145
Common Bronzewing0150
Common Brushtail Possum751305
Crimson Rosella782845
Cuckoo Fantailed0002
Dog0110
Eastern Whipbird3120143137
Eastern Yellow Robin341112
Echidna242463107
Fantail, Grey0300
Fantail, Rufous3370
Feral Cat24499599
Fox191323336140
Grey Currawong716237
Grey Shrike-Thrush3380
Human0010
Koala31411875
Kookaburra09417
Large Billed Scrubwren0002
Long Nosed Bandicoot287119270652
Lyrebird4869021809973
Magpie3000
Mountain Brushtail Possum181235243289
Olive Whistler715710
Pied Currawong36108
Pilotbird2150136217
Rabbit191583490
Rattus Species120213222189
Raven Species0140
Ring-tailed Possum7852967
Satin Bowerbird21835
Sugar Glider0410
Superb Fairy-wren35667
Swamp Wallaby74913821112677
Tawny Frogmouth0030
Wedge-tailed Eagle3000
White-browed Scrubwren8971264130
White Throated Tree-creeper0043
Wombat202234176130

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:

Species201320142015
Antechinus0233
Bassian Thrush36298209
Brown Gerygone010
Brush Bronzewing1121102
Common Blackbird510341
Common Bronzewing100
Eastern Whipbird47998
Eastern Yellow Robin012
Echidna5811
Fantail, Rufous100
Feral Cat3616
Fox406817
Grey Currawong100
Grey Shrike-Thrush110
Koala1102
Long Nosed Bandicoot38138
Lyrebird106145159
Mountain Brushtail Possum81016
Pied Currawong200
Pilotbird12311
Rabbit351114
Rattus Species104465
Ring-tailed Possum402
Satin Bowerbird210
Swamp Wallaby553017
White Throated Tree-creeper002
White-browed Scrubwren33924
Wombat275329

Site: West of Balook

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

Species201320142015
Bassian Thrush0726
Brown Thornbill001
Brush Bronzewing1045272
Common Blackbird651
Common Bronzewing040
Crimson Rosella01223
Eastern Whipbird106
Eastern Yellow Robin012
Echidna3102
Fantail, Rufous010
Feral Cat272217
Fox6411153
Grey Currawong351
Koala07930
Kookaburra1039
Long Nosed Bandicoot1703
Lyrebird237510116
Mountain Brushtail Possum46117
Olive Whistler001
Pied Currawong143
Pilotbird057
Rabbit602
Raven Species110
Rattus Species001
Satin Bowerbird002
Sugar Glider010
Superb Fairy-wren010
Swamp Wallaby955374179
Tawny Frogmouth020
White Throated Tree-creeper010
White-browed Scrubwren3183
Wombat541620

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.

Species201320142015
Antechinus059
Bassian Thrush9276222
Brush Bronzewing0101303
Common Blackbird03865
Cuckoo Fantailed001
Crimson Rosella0710
Dog010
Eastern Whipbird01913
Eastern Yellow Robin043
Echidna412
Feral Cat42917
Fox136385
Grey Currawong030
Grey Shrike-Thrush010
Koala032
Long Nosed Bandicoot6149168
Lyrebird12314545
Mountain Brushtail Possum957379
Olive Whistler044
Pied Currawong002
Pilotbird251117
Rabbit171445
Rattus Species117923
Ring-tailed Possum1901
Satin Bowerbird601
Superb Fairy-wren014
Swamp Wallaby136184151
White-browed Scrubwren01921
Wombat1082514

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.

2016 Lyrebird Survey

This year our Annual Lyrebird Survey will be held on Saturday June the 18th. The more volunteers we have the better able we are to get an accurate indication of the number of birds in our survey area so attendance by anyone (no experience necessary) is much appreciated. The meeting point for all volunteers is at the park visitors centre at 6.15 am. The count takes only 30 minutes from the time the sun rises and the birds start calling, which means after you have enjoyed your free breakfast it will be about 8.30am and you will be free to enjoy the rest of your Saturday. To secure your place please email friendsoftarrabulga@gmail.com or call David on 0488 035 314 Lyrebird Volunteersby this Wednesday.

Night Life

A few night time visits to the park to get a better idea of the night flying insects that live in Tarra-Bulga have been reaping rewards. Here are just a few highlights of what is flying or crawling about our tall forests. All sightings are being uploaded to our project on www.bowerbird.org.au where they can hopefully be identified and then placed on the the Atlas of Living Australia and become a permanent record in their searchable online database.

Chrysolarentia pantoea

Elusive Otways Moth Shows Up in Tarra-Bulga

On the 8/2/2016 following one of our group meetings at Balook , outside the visitors centre just after sunset I hung out a white sheet with a UV light in the hope of  finding a few interesting insects to photograph and potentially upload on to our “Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park” project on http://www.Bowerbird.org.au. The conditions were windier than ideal but an interesting array of creatures did land on the sheet including a medium sized brownish moth with distinctive white spots on its forewings, it landed without fanfare and hung around just long enough for me to take a quick photo.

Chrysolarentia pantoea
Chrysolarentia pantoea – Variable Carpet Moth

Back home the next day, I consulted Peter Marriott’s book Moths of Victoria and after much head scratching and flicking back and forward between pages I managed at last to find what I thought could be match, a species called Chrysolarentia pantoea  or the “Variable Carpet Moth”.

In Moths of Victoria, photos of this moth are of preserved museum specimens captured in the Otways and Lamington National Park (on the Queensland/NSW border). Peter writes in his book that no specimens of this moth could be found in collections taken between these two sites. He did predict that other populations of this moth could be established in cool temperate rainforest or other similar natural habitats.

As I was not 100% confident with my identification and thought this sighing could be of interest, I contacted Peter who to my satisfaction agreed that I was correct and it was in fact Chrysolarentia pantoea, that I had managed to photograph. Remarkably he said that it was the first time to his knowledge that this species has been recorded in Victoria since the last museum specimen had been captured near Lorne way back on the 8/2/1907. That is exactly 109 years to the day between sightings!

Monitoring Station #4

2015 Lyrebird Survey Report

We always cross our fingers and hope for favourable conditions on the morning of our annual Lyrebird Survey which this year was held on Saturday May 30th.  This year there was no rain but unfortunately the wind was up and noisy gusts were swirling through the canopy.

The logistics of getting a large crew of volunteers up and ready to participate at 6.15am means that we can’t afford to be flexible with our dates so it is a matter of carry on regardless. This year we had 22 volunteers turn up for the count, with most people pairing up, we were able to cover 12 out of our 16 monitoring stations, as is often the case the 4 stations in the southern section of our count area were left out.

Volunteers did a great job of arriving by 6.15 and by the time instructions were given and stations allocated it was still a rush to get into position. I found that the sun was rising and some birds had started calling a few minutes before I made it to my monitoring point at 6.55am.

Monitoring Station #4
Monitoring Station #4

The next ½ hour was spent listening out for birds, at our site we could hear calling from three directions and once bearings were taken and noted we just settled in and enjoyed the surrounds. I noted some noisy Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos moving in the canopy overhead as well as the odd loud crack from randomly scattered Eastern Whipbirds may potentially cause confusion for novice counters. Once our time was up we headed back along the track and soon came across a live sighting of a female Lyrebird (or perhaps a juvenile male?) wandering along the path.

Back at the guest house we once again had a great breakfast (thanks to Torben and Pam). After all the monitoring sheets were handed in it was time to analyse the results. The number of birds detected this year was down, although hopefully this is not cause for alarm; the survey relies on hearing the calls and the background noise of the wind makes them more difficult to detect. We definitely had 4 male birds calling in the survey area with one other likely one. Instances where it was noted that birds were calling very close to monitoring stations, helped to identify some of the Lyrebird locations with certainty.

A big thank you to everyone who made the effort to drag themselves out of bed so early and travel up to Balook to help out, your efforts to help conduct our annual surveys and monitor the local Lyrebird population is very much appreciated.  Also thank you to our Ranger Craig who does a fantastic job setting up the monitoring stations and organising the troops. At the start of the count Craig pointed out that this was our 20th Annual Lyrebird Survey and that he had attended every one. Next year will be a big one (our 21st).

Clink on the link for a pdf map of the survey results.

Lyrebird Survey 2015 results

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