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).
Another great turnout of 34 volunteers for this year’s survey, our annual Lyrebird Survey is by far our most popular activity and once again we were able to cover all 16 monitoring sites.
Weather conditions were quite good, at 5.30am heading up to Balook there was a substantial amount of moonlight with a clear sky and some cold air, At Balook however it was darker because of cloud cover blocking the moonlight and there was a slight breeze in the treetops.
Our full crew of volunteers arrived in good time and by 6.30am everyone had arrived and signed in and by 6.45am everyone had been briefed on their tasks and had headed out in the dark to their assigned monitoring stations.
Once in position there ended up being quite an unexpectedly long wait until Lyrebird calls were first heard, only a couple of locations recorded birds calling before 7am; which was when the majority of the sites started hearing birds, the latest any group had to wait to record any calls was 7.10am. Last year (2017) every site had birds calling by 6.55am.
The official sunrise time for Saturday June 2nd at Balook was 7.22am and first light was scheduled to appear at 6.52am which was almost identical to last year.
From our results we detected 8 birds calling in our search area, this figure was slightly down on recent years. It is hard to read too much into one years results but potentially the dry summer and autumn we have experience may be having an impact. Most birds appeared to be calling from forest areas with established Eucalyptus over-storey or rainforest. It would be great if some action can be taken to re-establish the original canopy species into areas of the park that have been degraded.
As usual we only count birds that are detected by at least 2 monitoring stations and some stations heard birds calling that were not in our survey area so are not included in the final tally.
Thanks again to AGL who generously supported the breakfast provided for the early rising volunteers.
Lyrebird Survey Results Summary Table 2010-2018
Number of Males Calling
(out of 16)
Windy making it hard to hear calls, especially in the more exposed sites.
Still and Calm
Wet, may have discouraged birds from calling. Several males sighted feeding but not calling.
Do you love getting outdoors?
o Keen on gardening.
o Reasonably fit and active.
o Available next Saturday (October 21st) and have your own transport to get to Tarra-Bulga and hate weeds.
o Then helping out with weed removal at our next Working Bee could be great for you.
Meeting Point: 9.30am at the Tarra Valley Car Park
All Tools Provided: (Finish at 12.30)
BYO. Gloves, Hat, Sturdy Shoes, Drink, Snacks
RSVP: To David on 0488 035 314 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This may be of interest to anyone who enjoys lending a hand towards a good cause. We are holding a small working bee next Wednesday (September 16th) to hopefully finish off the work on our Grand Ridge Rd planting project for this year, start time will be 9.30 am. Any helpers would be greatly appreciated, phone: 0488 035 314 or email email@example.com for further details.
We always cross our fingers and hope for favourable conditions on the morning of our annual Lyrebird Survey which this year was held on Saturday May 30th. This year there was no rain but unfortunately the wind was up and noisy gusts were swirling through the canopy.
The logistics of getting a large crew of volunteers up and ready to participate at 6.15am means that we can’t afford to be flexible with our dates so it is a matter of carry on regardless. This year we had 22 volunteers turn up for the count, with most people pairing up, we were able to cover 12 out of our 16 monitoring stations, as is often the case the 4 stations in the southern section of our count area were left out.
Volunteers did a great job of arriving by 6.15 and by the time instructions were given and stations allocated it was still a rush to get into position. I found that the sun was rising and some birds had started calling a few minutes before I made it to my monitoring point at 6.55am.
The next ½ hour was spent listening out for birds, at our site we could hear calling from three directions and once bearings were taken and noted we just settled in and enjoyed the surrounds. I noted some noisy Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos moving in the canopy overhead as well as the odd loud crack from randomly scattered Eastern Whipbirds may potentially cause confusion for novice counters. Once our time was up we headed back along the track and soon came across a live sighting of a female Lyrebird (or perhaps a juvenile male?) wandering along the path.
Back at the guest house we once again had a great breakfast (thanks to Torben and Pam). After all the monitoring sheets were handed in it was time to analyse the results. The number of birds detected this year was down, although hopefully this is not cause for alarm; the survey relies on hearing the calls and the background noise of the wind makes them more difficult to detect. We definitely had 4 male birds calling in the survey area with one other likely one. Instances where it was noted that birds were calling very close to monitoring stations, helped to identify some of the Lyrebird locations with certainty.
A big thank you to everyone who made the effort to drag themselves out of bed so early and travel up to Balook to help out, your efforts to help conduct our annual surveys and monitor the local Lyrebird population is very much appreciated. Also thank you to our Ranger Craig who does a fantastic job setting up the monitoring stations and organising the troops. At the start of the count Craig pointed out that this was our 20th Annual Lyrebird Survey and that he had attended every one. Next year will be a big one (our 21st).
Clink on the link for a pdf map of the survey results.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park have a number of project sites where they are aiming to convert several not so pristine areas of the park back to towering Mountain Ash Forest. On Saturday August the 9th they are holding a planting day along Diaper Tk where they’ve been restoring a 2ha site that was once over-run by 30m high Sycamore Maple trees.
The friends are keen for as many helpers are possible on the day but please note the task is a bit of a challenge and may not be for everyone. Access to the site is via 2.5km walk, which will probably be quite muddy at this time of year. Movement around the planting site itself is difficult, as it is covered in re-generating shrubs, ferns, logs and branches of what remains of the dead Sycamore Maple trees; there may also be the odd Leech.
In order to keep the newly planted Mountain Ash seedlings out of reach of hungry Swamp Wallabies, large wire mesh tree guards will be installed on the day.
So if all of the warnings found above hasn’t deterred you and you are keen to come along and plant a tree that may one day be an 80m tall giant please come along. The meeting spot will be at the Tarra-Bulga National Park visitors centre car park (Balook) at 9am.