Recently trekked in to monitor progress I had been putting it off until the heat wave had passed. It was four and half months since I had last seen the site so I was anxious to see how things were progressing. First impressions where that there has been a lot of regrowth of under-storey the Snowy daisy-bush (Olearia lirata) had really taken off, and it was even harder to move around the site and to spot the Mountain Ash we had planted. With careful searching the good news was that the planted trees were still there and looking healthy and mostly untouched by Wallabies although I was expecting a bit more growth over summer.
The other concern I had was how much regeneration there had been of the Sycamore Maple trees that had dominated this site until they were cut down cleared several years ago. When I had visited in October there were hundreds of new seedlings that had popped up since our planting day in August. I was happy to see that in the more open areas there were few if any Maples (I think the hot summer may have killed them off) it was noticeable however that some of the large stumps had varying amounts of re-shooting from the base that needs to be dealt with.
This post is a summary of the Remote Camera Monitoring results over December and January 2012/13
Camera 1 – Still out of action after it was attacked by an aggressive lyrebird.
Camera 2 – Located in mature Wet Forest in the Tarra Valley was quite a prolific site, with the camera picking up lots of small birds e.g. White-browed Scrub Wrens and Bassian and Grey-Shrike Thrushes, as well as mammals such as Antechinus and Long-nosed Bandicoots, unfortunately there were plenty of Foxes and a Feral Cat present. Also plenty of Wombats, Wallabies and some Brushtails.
This video made up from a series of still photos from one of our remote cameras along with some sound recorded by our songmeter shows a Male Superb Lyrebird systematically scratching around for food underneath the leaf litter. This scratching results in the leaf litter being turned over and is thought to improve the rate of nutrient cycling in the forest, helping to create compost that will feed the vegetation.
One area of the park that the Friends of Tarra Bulga are monitoring carefully is an area that has been set back by the occurrence of the Black Saturday bush-fires. The site is on a north-west facing slope and is an area of about 10 ha.It was added to the National Park in 1986 which was part of the process of the merging of the Bulga Park and Tarra Valley reserves. At that time it was in very poor condition, having being abandoned after being cleared for farming. It was reportedly covered in blackberries, introduced grasses and native colonisers such as Fireweed Groundsel and Bracken Fern.
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.
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.
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.
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.