Kara Healey’s – Collection of Mosses and Liverworts

One of the stunning features of Tarra-Bulga National Park’s cool temperate rainforest gullies is the amazing array of mosses and liverworts. These delicate plants are often tiny and identifying them can be a significant challenge. Kara Healey was a renowned caretaker(Ranger) in the Tarra Valley in the 1950’s. She dedicated a lot of her time to collecting specimens of a wide range of lifeforms in within the park and sending them off to herbariums and other institutions to be identified and catalogued. Her efforts resulted in the Tarra Valley having one of the most comprehensive lists of its flora and fauna out of any park in the state. We have recently obtained some scans of collections she made way back in the 1950’s. It is incredible that they are so well preserved after all this time. Enjoy! and for anyone who is into studying mosses and liverworts out there – this might be a very useful resource.

The volunteers

Update

Parks Victoria have made the decision that non-essential volunteer activities are to be cancelled for at least 4 weeks. Tarra-Bulga National Park will still be open for visitors to enjoy, but the Visitors Centre will be closed. Also our weeding activity planned for tomorrow has been cancelled.

The Planting Crew
The Planting Crew

2019 Lyrebird Survey Results

Conditions were fortunately very good after a wild week of strong winds, rain and even a dusting of snow on the Wednesday. As a result  of the snow many fern fronds have been crushed down and were providing an obstacle along the walking tracks. The temperature was relatively mild and although you could hear the wind in the tree-tops it was not that strong. First Light was predicted at 6:52 am and the official sunrise time was 7:21.

We had 38 volunteers which was more the enough to cover all 16 monitoring locations. After meeting at 6.15 am everyone was briefed and out into the field by 6:40. Kookaburras were the first birds to start calling and were very active and noisy for quite a while. It seemed like quite a long wait until we heard our first Lyrebird at 6:58 am. Most volunteers had vacated their sites by around 7:15 am and people started filing into the Guest House for breakfast by about 7:25.

The results were collated this year during Google Earth.  The bottom of Lyrebird Ridge seemed to be quite active as well as the points around the suspension bridge and the Bulga Carpark. other sites were much quieter with only one or two calls heard.

Using our call triangulation method there ended up being a couple of anomalies with the results that made the certainty of the existence of a couple of birds 100% certain. (e.g  2 monitoring sites heard it calling but a closer one did not). Overall though we came up with a total of 9 birds calling for 2019 (which is one more than last year).

Lyrebird Survey Results updated 2019
Lyrebird Location Map 2019
Map of Lyrebird Survey Results 2019

Don’t Go Past the Tarra Valley!

While spending a bit of time in the Tarra Valley Car Park on Saturday morning it was mind blowing to witness a significant number of touristy looking vehicles slow down, check out the place from their vehicles and then drive on without getting out of the car. One lady who had stopped for a look around, approached me and said “we have come up from Yarram and were wondering where to go for the best walks!”. She seemed surprised when I said that one of the best walks in the park is right here.

The Rainforest Walk at the Tarra Valley is certainly a must-do Tarra-Bulga National Park experience. The ancient gnarly Myrtle Beech, fresh mountain streams, lush green mosses and delicate filmy ferns are truly spectacular (not to mention Cyathea Falls). Maybe it needs better signage (VicRoads) or publicity but seriously people if you a driving through, stop, get out of the car, take a walk and check it out for yourself.

Cats in Tarra-Bulga National Park

Although they are not often seen by visitors, feral and domestic cats are established predators at Tarra-Bulga National Park and our remote camera results suggest they are becoming more common.

The table below shows results from five years of remote camera monitoring carried out by the Friends of Tarra-Bulga Park. Cat numbers as a percentage of total species recorded rose dramatically from 0.7 to 3.9%.

Year201220132014201520162017
No. of Cats Records163364594164
Total Records220828984827380413521638
Percentage of Cats0.7%1.1%1.3%1.6%3.0%3.9%

The impact these cats are having on the birds, small mammals and reptiles is a real concern. Although there are many variables in the ways we set up our cameras, the general trend in the last few years is for them to be detecting greater numbers of cats and less small native mammals (e.g. Antechinus and Bush Rats). Sadly we have also been detecting less of the smaller birds such as Pilotbirds and White-browed Scrubwrens. (For a summary of sightings of others species download this Percentage of sightings per year for commonly detected species captured in remote camera photos )

The gallery below shows that cats in Tarra-Bulga range from large ferals and panther look-alikes to small (some might say cute) looking kittens, some even have collars. What is undeniable though, is that their presence has a major impact on the ecology of Tarra-Bulga National Park.

Tarra-Bulga National Park: A Work in Progress.

Renowned for its stunning cool-temperate rainforest, luxuriant tree-ferns and towering Mountain Ash trees, Tarra-Bulga National Park is cherished by Gippslanders and enjoyed by visitors from all over the world.  The original separate small, but significant, Bulga and Tarra Valley Parks were reserved just over a century ago while the giant forests surrounding them were being laboriously hand cleared by selectors to turn into farms. Clearing this land turned out to be folly, the terrain, cold winters, bushfires, weeds and rabbits all contributed to the farmers giving up and walking away, leaving scrub and noxious weeds in their wake. Forestry and sawmilling in the area for timber and pulpwood also led to the loss of more of the original giant trees.

Alberton Shire_0002a_2
Bulga Park Entrance Circa 1930

In recent years Tarra-Bulga National Park has expanded. New areas including abandoned farmland have been added with the goal of physically linking Tarra Valley and Bulga Parks as well as to reduce visitor pressure on significant sites, provide greater recreational opportunities and protect additional vegetation communities representative of the Strzelecki Ranges. It is recognised that Tarra-Bulga National Park has the potential to become even more spectacular and significant as cleared land is successfully regenerated.

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Monitoring past  work by the Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park

To this end the Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park are seeking volunteers interested in helping with the regeneration process. The group holds occasional work days on weekends, undertaking activities such as planting over-storey trees and controlling noxious weeds. The next activity is scheduled for Saturday July the 23rd  30th and will focus on removing tree guards from successful new plantings. The meeting point will be at 9.30am at the Visitors Centre Car Park. For further details or to register your interest in helping out Friends of Tarra-Bulga with any of their activities email friendsoftarrabulga@gmail.com  or phone 0488 035 314.

Chrysolarentia pantoea

Elusive Otways Moth Shows Up in Tarra-Bulga

On the 8/2/2016 following one of our group meetings at Balook , outside the visitors centre just after sunset I hung out a white sheet with a UV light in the hope of  finding a few interesting insects to photograph and potentially upload on to our “Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park” project on http://www.Bowerbird.org.au. The conditions were windier than ideal but an interesting array of creatures did land on the sheet including a medium sized brownish moth with distinctive white spots on its forewings, it landed without fanfare and hung around just long enough for me to take a quick photo.

Chrysolarentia pantoea
Chrysolarentia pantoea – Variable Carpet Moth

Back home the next day, I consulted Peter Marriott’s book Moths of Victoria and after much head scratching and flicking back and forward between pages I managed at last to find what I thought could be match, a species called Chrysolarentia pantoea  or the “Variable Carpet Moth”.

In Moths of Victoria, photos of this moth are of preserved museum specimens captured in the Otways and Lamington National Park (on the Queensland/NSW border). Peter writes in his book that no specimens of this moth could be found in collections taken between these two sites. He did predict that other populations of this moth could be established in cool temperate rainforest or other similar natural habitats.

As I was not 100% confident with my identification and thought this sighing could be of interest, I contacted Peter who to my satisfaction agreed that I was correct and it was in fact Chrysolarentia pantoea, that I had managed to photograph. Remarkably he said that it was the first time to his knowledge that this species has been recorded in Victoria since the last museum specimen had been captured near Lorne way back on the 8/2/1907. That is exactly 109 years to the day between sightings!

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