What are we monitoring for?

Tonight’s the Friends of Tarra Bulga National Park committee had one of their regular meetings. It is always interesting to make the evening trip up to Balook, as you are almost guaranteed to see an interesting array of wildlife along the way. Tonight was no exception on the way up in the last hour of daylight there were plenty of wallabies darting out in front of the car and a couple of lyrebirds  doing their last rounds of the day.

Long- nosed Bandicoot - Perameles nasuta
Long- nosed Bandicoot – Perameles nasuta

After the meeting it was now a couple of hours since dusk, back in the car and around the first few bends we catch some eye shine and a shape at the side of the road, slowing down it becomes clear that it is a fox with something in its mouth. With light from the headlights and the full moon, I can see a short tail and on the other side of the foxes snout a long pointy nose, unmistakably a bandicoot, bit sad that my first live sighting of a bandicoot at Tarra Bulga had to be this way. The full moon seems to get the fauna out and about and a little further on we stop the car when we spot a brush-tailed possum on the roadside. With the car stationary it strides across, with a tiny offspring hanging tenaciously on to its mother’s back. Next sighting is a couple of rabbits, which surely would have been our preferred option for the fox to be dining on.

Before the friends started monitoring with remote cameras, there had been no official records of bandicoots in the park for at least a decade (wildlife surveys can be an expensive business). What impacts do fox numbers have on bandicoot or lyrebird populations or even rabbits? How common are other feral animals in the park and what impact could they be having e.g. cats? What else is out there that we don’t know about (Could there be any Tiger Quoll?  We could guess but without some means of surveying we wouldn’t really know. The Friends of Tarra Bulga now have a network of remote cameras across the park, we aim to use them to the best of our ability to get a much greater understanding of what is happening out there with all them critters.

Lyrebird Survey Map

To all of those people who did the Lyrebird Survey this map can give an indication of what was going on this year.Geographic Information System (GIS) software was used to plot the location of all of the monitoring sites. Then the lines coming out from each site were drawn using the information that all the volunteers recorded during the survey. Once all the lines have been drawn we can then find points where several lines from different monitoring points intersect. At these points we can be confident that there was a Male Lyrebird calling during the survey period.

Tarra Bulga Lyrebird Survey 2012 Map
Tarra Bulga Lyrebird Survey 2012 Map

2012 Lyrebird Count

We were happy to have perfect weather for Lyrebird Counting, still calm conditions meant that Lyrebird calls would be easy to detect. We had an excellent turnout with 32 helpers including a contingent of Scouts. Ranger Craig briefed the early morning crowd about their roles and passed on his knowledge in terms of taking a compass bearing. We then raced out to our monitoring points, in order to be in position before the first birds began calling at the break of dawn. After only a quarter of an hour or so all groups recorded several different birds calling and there were a number of live sightings. It was then (as is the custom) time to migrate to the guesthouse for a hearty breakfast. After all the recordings were logged and mapped we can confirm at least 6 birds were present in the target area, which thankfully shows that the Parks Lyrebird populations are still going strong.

Pre Count Briefing
Everyone paying attention to the instructions before going out to their positions.
Two young helpers ready to start the Lyrebird Survey
Two young helpers ready to start the Lyrebird Survey
Lyrebird Surveyors Breakfast
Lyrebird Surveyors Breakfast

2012 Tarra Bulga National Park Lyrebird Survey

It’s on again. The Friends of Tarra Bulga are looking for interested volunteers to participate in our Annual Lyrebird Survey on Saturday June the 2nd. It involves an early start, people need to be at the Tarra Bulga National Park at 6am so we can get organised to get to our monitoring positions before sunrise. The survey itself only takes half an hour and after that a cooked breakfast is on the menu. If you would like to come along you need to contact ranger Craig Campbell on 5172 2508 or email craig.campbell@parks.vic.gov.au. Wear warm clothing, bring a watch, a torch and a compass (if you have one).

Superb Lyrebird - Menura novaehollandiae
Superb Lyrebird – Menura novaehollandiae – All ready to be counted!

Agile Antechinus

This little critter nearly went by unnoticed until we went back through some remote picks and spotted it here. It is an Agile Antechinus – Antechinus agilis. They mainly feed on invertebrates such as spiders and beetles. Like all antechinuses, the Agile Antechinus has a short and violent breeding season, after which the males all die.

Agile Antechinus - Antechinus agilis
You might have to look closely to find this little Antechinus

2011 Lyrebird Count

Lyrebird - Male with tail in full display
Lyrebird – Male with tail in full display

We had a great turn out for the annual lyrebird survey on June 4thwith 28 volunteers turning up. This included 8 scouts from Sale and their leaders and it was great to see a number of new volunteers.

Fortunately the rain held off but windy conditions meant that listening out for Lyrebird calls was a little tricky. People in more sheltered positions were lucky to hear good numbers of birds calling but people in the outlying areas e.g. Ranger Craig (stationed at the depot) did not hear as much of a chorus of calls as he would have hoped. A number of the scouts were very excited at the number of birds they heard and did extremely  well to locate their stations in thedark given at least one marker post had been pulled out of the ground and hidden in the scrub prior to the survey. Evidently the scouts had a great time as they indicated they would be back next year to have another go.

A superb first up breakfast was provided by the new proprietors of the guest house (Nic and Steve) as a follow up to their great effort for the annual friend’s dinner. Thank you to Loy Yang Power for donating some funds to support the breakfast.  It is probably a good thing that the count only happens once a year given the early start but it is certainly a great event, with the highlight certainly being the experience of hearing the wake up calls of the birds as the sun rises in the rainforest.Lyrebird

If you would like to hear about upcoming activities such as the upcoming 2012 Lyrebird Count – please submit your details in the form below.

Tarra Bulga Fauna Monitoring

This presence of this Long Nosed Bandicoot ( Perameles nasuta ) is one of the many insights we are gaining about the habits of the Fauna of Tarra Bulga with the use of our remote infrared cameras. Long-nosed Bandicoots are active from dusk to dawn, digging cone-shaped holes in their search for insects, fungi and fleshy plant roots (tubers).