Lyrebird Numbers Up, Brush Bronze-wing Population Explodes!

Friends of Tarra-Bulga have now been using remote cameras within the park to monitor wildlife for over three years. The table below shows results adjusted for the number of days cameras have been active in the field. We currently have eight cameras that are moved around to different sites on a regular basis. As of January 2015 the cameras had spent a combined total of over 5000 days in the field and were triggered by animal movements over 10,000 times.

Feral Cat with a Sugar Glider
Feral Cat numbers have risen

The results show a number of interesting trends. For mammals most species have not varied much in the frequency of sightings over the 3 years with a few exceptions. There was a large jump in Koala sightings in 2014 most were at one site where a Koala developed a routine of passing by every couple of days. Feral Cat numbers have risen each year and Ring-tailed Possum sightings seem to have declined. (the figures for Ring-tails have been influenced heavily by one popular site).

Lyrebirds captures by our cameras doubled each year.

There has been a massive jump in the numbers of birds that the cameras are detecting. The number Lyrebirds passing cameras have doubled each year. Bassian Thrush (Zoothera lunulata) sightings increased around 600% in 2014 and Brush Bronze-wing numbers skyrocketed from only 15 sightings in 2013 up to 404. Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Whipbirds, Pilotbirds and *Common Blackbirds all had a significant rise in detection. Two smaller species the White-browed Scrubwren and the Superb Fairy Wren were also ‘captured’ more often.

Brush Bronzewing
We have had massive increase in the number of Brush Bronzewings recorded.

A reason for the jump in bird numbers may be due to camera placement. One site used in 2014 was very popular for ground dwelling bird, however this does not fully explain the rise, other camera sites were used in both years and showed a big increase ground dwelling birds from 2013. Fox control efforts in recent years may also be a factor helping the birds numbers increase. Our results have picked up a small rise in Fox numbers over the last few years. As our monitoring continues, time will tell if this greater abundance of bird sightings will be maintained.

Bassian Thrush136135639
White-browed Scrubwren6149181
Eastern Whipbird211498
Satin Bowerbird1452
Crimson Rosella55195
Grey Currawong51116
Olive Whistler595
Brush Bronzewing215404
Eastern Yellow Robin238
Fantail, Rufous225
Grey Shrike-Thrush236
Pied Currawong247
Superb Fairy-wren2345
Wedge tailted Eagle200
Brown Gerygone001
Brown Thornbill020
Common Bronzewing014
Fantail, Grey020
Raven Species013
Tawny Frogmouth002
White Throated Tree-creeper003
Common Blackbird1910125
Feral Cat163364
Swamp Wallaby513947761
Long Nosed Bandicoot19781185
Brushtail Possum176171169
Rattus Species82146152
Ring-tailed Possum55820
Sugar Glider031
Unidentifiable Bird103101119
Small Mammal – Unidentifiable476744
Large Mammal – Unidentifiable331629

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.


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

2013 Lyrebird Survey Report

Less than ideal conditions beckoned for this years count, indeed when I woke up at 5.15 am and heard the rain pelting down on the roof, I fired up the computer and  checked the rain radar and saw that it was going to continue to bucket down, (especially at Balook) for the foreseeable future. I put the text through to Ranger Craig, who soon phoned back and told me the decision had been made given the weather to postpone. He said he would go up anyway just in case anyone turned up, and I returned to bed.

Much to my surprise, 2 days later I heard the news, that when Craig arrived at the Visitors Centre there was quite a crowd, who despite the weather were raring to go (much kudos to those hardy souls).

Reports suggest that the inclement weather may have influenced the survey, with several sites unusually recording no calls whatsoever. There were however Lyrebirds around with reports of a group foraging directly in front of the Visitors Centre. Possibly the much needed rain produced ideal conditions for the birds to feed, so inconveniently the boys were more focused on filling their stomachs, rather than attracting the ladies with their fancy calls. Despite the visual sightings, only two male birds within the survey area could be properly counted using our call based technique. Hopefully the drop in numbers can be attributable to the conditions, rather than more sinister reasons such as increased fox numbers. In any case I am sure we will be back next year with hopefully more favourable conditions to do it all again.  I also hope that despite the conditions that the hardy survey team had a great morning and the usual scrumptious breakfast at the guest house.

PS. To any of the attendees that braved the conditions and got a good photo of any aspect of the morning, it would be great if you could forward it on, so we could add it to this report.

lyrebird count 2013
Lyrebird Count Results 2013, two male birds only can be considered officially counted this year.

Related Posts

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 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.

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.

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