Camera Site Greatly Exceeds Expectations

In February we placed a camera in a new site along the Grand Ridge Rd, in vegetation that was not typical old growth Mountain Ash forest, but rather sad looking regrowth scrub. As a result we didn’t have high expectations as to what fauna we’d find in this habitat. Surprisingly though it’s a very popular spot, especially with ground dwelling birds (must be lots of food) and we obtained some fantastic images. All up the camera was triggered on 165 separate occasions, see the table below for more details)

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Species Sightings  

Species

Sightings
Brush Bronzewing 36   Fox 3
Superb Lyrebird 22   Swamp Wallaby 2
White-browed Scrubwren 20   Echidna 2
Bassian Thrush 16   Koala 2
Pilotbird 13   Common Blackbird 2
Eastern Whipbird 7   Brushtail Possum 1
Superb Fairy-wren 7   Rufous Fantail 1
Wombat 4    
  • In addition there were 26 birds that triggered the camera not able to be identified from the image quality to species level.
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Remote Camera Monitoring March 2013

Camera 1- Has been repaired after Lyrebird attack and will be back in action ASAP.

 Camera 2 – is  still placed in an area that has quite prolific wildlife sightings.

This month it captured a variety of birds, which surprisingly is not always the case given the diversity of species in the park. Birds pictured were the Yellow Robin, Crimson Rosella, Grey Shrike-thrush, Satin Bowerbird, Lyrebird, White-browed Scrub-wren and the Bassian Thrush, Also picked up some nice photos of Some very active Brushtails, Antechinus, Wombats and Echidnas. On the down side there was a feral Cat sneaking Foxes around and no sign of any Bandicoots. Apologies to the Wallabies we spotted having a rather private moment.

Tarra Valley South West
Tarra Valley South West – Species Count

Camera 3 – Was on a steep slope and this month produced a lot more photos, probably due to just a slight change of position which was aimed at more level ground. Grey Currawongs were hanging around the site along with Antechinus, Lyrebirds, Brushtail’s and Echindna’s. This was a much better result than the last time where only Foxes, Wallabies and Lyrebirds were detected.

Tarra Bulga South Central
Tarra Bulga South Central – Species Count

Camera 4 – Was located at a site that was also surprisingly busy given that has a lower diversity because it is an area of shrubby regrowth forest with a ground cover of only bark, leaf litter and bare soil. Grey Currawongs again seemed to be active at the moment; Brush Bronzewings seem to like this area as well as Lyrebirds (sometimes in pairs). Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Whip-birds and Bassian Thrushes were also spotted. Wombats, Wallabies and Antechinus were the main mammals along with visits by two Feral Cats and a Fox. The results were similar to last time and the camera has now been moved into some different habitat.

Balook West - Camera 4
Balook West – Camera 4, Species Counts

Camera 5 This camera was located at the bottom of a damp fern gully, With only 400 photos in the six week period it was actually a bit quieter than some of the other locations, although there was a lot of Brush-tailed possum activity (Good spot for Powerful Owls to get some tucker!!) and a lot of Pilotbird activity. Other Mammal species were an unidentified rodent, Antechinus, Wallabies and the ubiquitous Foxes (which were seen at all 7 Camera sites scattered around the park).

Balook Gully
Balook Gully Species Count

Camera 6 – Is a site located close to old-growth forest, it has deep leaf litter on the ground. Surprisingly we haven’t been picking up a lot of diversity here. There has been lots of Lyrebirds photographed as well as Wallabies and Foxes but little else. Potentially the camera is too high to pick up smaller species. I have made an adjustment to see if it makes any difference.

Tarra Bulga North West - Species Count
Tarra Bulga North West – Species Count

Camera 7 – Was in the same place as last time and once again it was prolific even though the vegetation is mainly scrubby regrowth with no large canopy trees. Again there were lots of cute mother Wallaby and Joey in pouch photos. There were more good shots of Long-nosed Bandicoots and Lyrebirds. Other birds were Pied Currawongs and Grey shrike-Thrushes. There were some busy Wombats and some handsome looking but evil Foxes no doubt sniffing around for a meal of fresh Bandicoot.

Balook West - Species Count
Balook West – Species Count

Camera 8 –No sign of any snakes this time, but similar results to last time at this site which was on the Eastern edge of Tarra Bulga. Lots of Lyrebird activity, Wombats, Wallabies and Echidnas as well as some Long-nosed Bandicoots and Foxes.

Tarra Bulga North East
Tarra Bulga North East – Species Count

Remote Camera Site Over One Month

The video shows a compilation of all the photos taken at one site, by one of our infrared cameras over the period of one month. It shows the typical comings and goings of the local fauna, It was taken a year ago.  If you look at the top of the screen you can see the date and time that each animal visited. We haven’t been using bait to lure animals to the camera, we did try that initially but it didn’t seem to make much difference to the numbers or variety of the species photographed. Camera placement can make quite a big difference to the animals filmed. If the camera is too high off the ground it seems to pick up less of the smaller animals such as Antechinus, Rats and Bandicoots (this camera was probably not low enough to the ground to pick them up at this site)

Remote Camera Monitoring – Update Summer 2013

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.

Lyrebird who got overly interested in one of our Remote Cameras
Lyrebird who got overly interested in one of our Remote Cameras

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.

Strzelecki Koala

We have had what we hope is the first of many Koala’s detected by our remote cameras. This one was on the  move past our camera site in the Tarra Valley. Koala sightings seem to be reported more frequently in the park in recent years, but this is only anecdotal as no proper ongoing survey has ever taken place. Importantly the park is part of the habitat of the Strzelecki Koala population, which is significant because the local Koalas are thought to be the only population in the state that are not descended from a handful of trans-located  Koalas from French Island and hence are thought to be much healthier and genetically resilient.

Koala at Tarra Bulga
This Koala is the first one we have seen one via our Remote Camera monitoring program.

This Koala was in an area of the Park that has some very large Mountain Grey-gum trees, (Eucalyptus cypellocarpa) which researchers believe is one of the local Koalas’ favourite food sources. Although not their first choice Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans); which is the most common eucalypt within the park is thought to also be utilisted by Koalas as well as Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua) which is also quite common. We would love to hear about any sightings in the park to add to our knowledge and to help contribute to regional efforts that are being made to get a better understanding about the distribution of the Strzelecki Koala and its health and well being.

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.