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.

Lyrebird Survey Map

To all of those people who did the Lyrebird Survey this map can give an indication of what was going on this year.Geographic Information System (GIS) software was used to plot the location of all of the monitoring sites. Then the lines coming out from each site were drawn using the information that all the volunteers recorded during the survey. Once all the lines have been drawn we can then find points where several lines from different monitoring points intersect. At these points we can be confident that there was a Male Lyrebird calling during the survey period.

Tarra Bulga Lyrebird Survey 2012 Map
Tarra Bulga Lyrebird Survey 2012 Map

2012 Lyrebird Count

We were happy to have perfect weather for Lyrebird Counting, still calm conditions meant that Lyrebird calls would be easy to detect. We had an excellent turnout with 32 helpers including a contingent of Scouts. Ranger Craig briefed the early morning crowd about their roles and passed on his knowledge in terms of taking a compass bearing. We then raced out to our monitoring points, in order to be in position before the first birds began calling at the break of dawn. After only a quarter of an hour or so all groups recorded several different birds calling and there were a number of live sightings. It was then (as is the custom) time to migrate to the guesthouse for a hearty breakfast. After all the recordings were logged and mapped we can confirm at least 6 birds were present in the target area, which thankfully shows that the Parks Lyrebird populations are still going strong.

Pre Count Briefing
Everyone paying attention to the instructions before going out to their positions.
Two young helpers ready to start the Lyrebird Survey
Two young helpers ready to start the Lyrebird Survey
Lyrebird Surveyors Breakfast
Lyrebird Surveyors Breakfast
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