Remote Camera Monitoring Autumn 2013

I have produced some stats to go with the latest update from our remote camera sites, hopefully it adds to the information we are getting from the monitoring sites.

Camera 1 was but back in action after the Lyrebird attack a bit later than the others. It was placed around one of the original camera sites in a location I will call Balook Central. There was an alarming amount of Fox activity at this Camera, also no sign of Long-nosed Bandicoots which have been common at this site before (hopefully the 2 factors are not related). Note that in each graph when I am talking about Brushtail Possums it could be either the Common Brushtail or the Mountain (Bobuck) variety. I am not sure that it is possible to tell them apart from the remote camera photos.

Animal Visits - Graph
Animal Visits – Graph

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Camera 2 – Had a lot of bird activity, with lots of little brown birds that given their size, picture quality or the way they were facing, they were often hard to positively Identify. But there was certainly one or more active White-browed Scrub-wrens. The site was relatively quiet compared to past results. A tree branch falling in front of the Camera half-way through the monitoring period may have been a reason for this.  No sign of any Bandicoots but plenty of Antechinus and other Rodent species (probably Rattus fuscipes – Bush Rat ) but hard to identify just with the photos. Anthechinus have pointed snouts and their ears are thin with a notch in the middle. Rats have rounded ears. Sometimes it was impossible to tell whether it was an Antechinus or a Rat from the photos so in those instances, I have just called them unidentified small mammals.

Tarra Bulga South West - Animal Visits
Tarra Bulga South West – Animal Visits

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Camera 3 – Had a lot of Small Mammal activity but not so many larger ones. Possibly due to the camera positioning and location. Lots of good shots an Antechinus Species (Could either be the Dusky Antechinus or the Agile Antechinus but impossible really to tell them apart from the photos. The Rattus species are probably Bush Rats, one way to tell is by their tail length, which in native rats is usually shorter than their body length. 

Tarra Bulga South Central

Monitoring Results for Tarra Bulga South Central site.

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Camera 4 – I thought there must have been some sort of camera malfunction when I collected this camera from the field, there were over 9000 photos on the card. After looking through I found that the camera was working fine it was just an extremely busy site, especially for Swamp Wallabies, where as you can see by the graph they visited the site over 250 times over 2 months. Many times it was the same Joey with its family group which made for some cute photos with it bounding around. The site was in a fairly open clearing so it must have been a really favorite camping spot for them. In one situation a Swamp Wallaby was photographed while a Brushtailed Possum looked on from a tree trunk.  In addition to the Wallabies, we had Long Nosed Bandicoots and Lyrebirds. Look for the photo when a Lyrebird goes past and then a minute later a Fox is seen leaping through the air in the direction it went. Also look for the photos of the Fox with some prey in its mouth, I can’t tell what it is but it is about Bandicoot Size. Also a fair bit of Feral Cat activity at this site.

Remote Camera Species Count
Remote Camera Species Count

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Camera 5- This camera was obviously pointing at a favourite habitat for Bassian Thrushes, as they were the most common species here. They are often hard to spot in the photos as they are well camouflaged.

Balook Gully
Balook Gully – Remote Camera Species Count

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Camera 6- This site is on a ridge amongst large Tree-ferns, with a thick leaf litter. It has lots of Lyrebirds scratching around and plenty of Foxes prowling around.

Tarra Bulga North West
Tarra Bulga North West Remote Camera Species Count.
Fox
Fox

Camera 7 – This site, although mainly scrubby and lacking in canopy trees, had a lot of activity as can be seen from the graph. Our best site for Long-nose Bandicoots this time and plenty of Lyrebird activity.

Remote Camera Species Count Camera 7
Remote Camera Species Count Camera 7

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Camera 8 – This area seems to get a Ring-tailed possum every time we put a camera around there. Not as busy as some of the other sites but it had a good mix of species with not too many introduced predators visiting. Interestingly when I got to the camera out of the ground litter popped a real live Antechinus which did a couple of little circuits only a couple of metres from where I was standing before it disappeared again, just as I had my (regular) camera ready to shoot. Most likely it was a Dusky Antechinus which are said to be more likely to be active during the daytime (as opposed to the Agile Antechinus). Amazingly there was not one confirmed photo of an Antechinus on the Remote Camera that had been at that site for 2 months.

Remote Camera Species Count Camera 8
Remote Camera Species Count Camera 8

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Overall Counts

Overall Results
This table shows the combined number of species results for all cameras over 2 months.
Most Common Species - All Sites
Most Common Species – All Sites
Less Common Camera Sightings
Less Common Camera Sightings – All Sites


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.

Remote Camera and the Fallen Tree

When we checked one of the cameras after some of the recent windy weather, we arrived at the site to find it had had a close call with the base of a fallen tree landing only inches in front of our precious camera.

Figuring the the tree would be completely blocking the line of sight for the camera it was thought that there was no point leaving it in its current position. So the camera was relocated. 

Later while checking the results computer we found there had been some interesting activity at the site with passing Echidna’s and Bandicoots and a Male Lyrebird strutting around and calling.

Lyrebird
Nice shots of this male Lyrebird before the tree fell over and blocked the view.

After the tree fell we were not expecting much but the disturbance and obviously caused interest in feeding opportunities for some fauna. Antechinus and Eastern Whip Birds featured in a number of shots foraging in the rotten wood at the base of the fallen tree. As the tree was very close to the camera the shots are a little out of focus but they do give us a good look at the habits of species we would not have seen without the presence of the camera.

Antechinus Close Up
Antechinus Close Up foraging on newly fallen tree base.
Eastern Whip Bird - Psophodes olivaceus
This Eastern Whip Bird (Psophodes olivaceus) was very interested in the base of this newly fallen tree, it seemed to be having a feast.