Heavy snowfalls are a relatively rare event at Tarra Bulga National Park. A large dump in August 2005 caused a lot of damage to the park’s vegetation due to the weight of the snow. Today’s snow is the biggest dump since this event and hopefully the damage will not be too severe but it certainly will have an impact.
This morning there were plenty of tree branches cracking under the weight of the snow and in more open areas shrubs were taking a battering. Tree Ferns are an ideal shape to catch snow on their fronds, but thankfully they seem very good at recovering from damage. The area where our working bee was a week and a half ago was covered in snow, which is not an ideal start for our newly planted Mountain Ash seedlings.
It was interesting to see the Fauna’s reaction to the sudden icy change to their landscape with a confused Kangaroo hopping about (outside the park boundary) and Lyrebirds and other species buzzing around and looking a bit agitated. The snow would have affected mainly the higher elevations in the park, with sites along the Grand Ridge Rd catching the heaviest falls.
We had our Annual Dinner for the Friends of Tarra Bulga last night and these videos were shown as a summary of the results from our remote cameras for the year. They are now up on YouTube and can be seen here for anyone who was unable to attend and anybody else that is interested.
This second video is from one camera from the Tarra Valley section of the park that was in place for almost a whole year. It has some of the animals labelled to help you know what you are looking at.
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.
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.
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