The planting activity this month saw a good turnout of members of both our group as well as some great helpers from the Conservation Volunteers. The work focused on adding overstorey species (in this case Mountain Ash) to a scrubby regrowth site located along the Grand Ridge Rd.
Several years ago we had planted Blackwood’s on this site with mixed success. Blackwood seedlings are a favourite food of Wallabies. We found that the Chicken wire guards we used back then were not 100% successful in keeping Swamp Wallabies at bay and that they were able to reach the top and nibble the new growth. An application of Sentree (Wallaby Deterrent) helped to give the plants a fighting chance, but most are still quite stunted where as the ones that have got away have reached over 3m tall. Hopefully the new improved guards we used today; which were taller, wider and made of stronger mesh; will see a better success rate. They will also be able to be reused down the track for future plantings. Some of the dead Blackwoods had reached several feet high and then died. They had no roots left, so not sure whether they had been chewed off (by rats??) or maybe caused by the tubes being root bound or just rotting away, the stems were still quite green.
All up we planted 40 new Mountain Ash trees, as well as removing old guards from previously planted trees. Although this may not be a big number, it is a reflection on the careful effort we made to do the job properly and make sure they are well protected, so hopefully, they get the chance to grow into forest giants. Thanks to Pam and David for preparing a delicious barbecue lunch for the starving workers, and also to the Conservation Volunteers for their tremendous support for this event which was an enjoyable and productive day.
One area of the park that the Friends of Tarra Bulga are monitoring carefully is an area that has been set back by the occurrence of the Black Saturday bush-fires. The site is on a north-west facing slope and is an area of about 10 ha.It was added to the National Park in 1986 which was part of the process of the merging of the Bulga Park and Tarra Valley reserves. At that time it was in very poor condition, having being abandoned after being cleared for farming. It was reportedly covered in blackberries, introduced grasses and native colonisers such as Fireweed Groundsel and Bracken Fern.
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.
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.
Made the trek out to the re-vegetation site for the first time since the planting was done which was a bit over two months ago.
From looking around the site there was both good and bad news. First the good, there was virtually no sign of any Wallabies managing to get to chew any of the new seedlings, despite the fact I heard one hopping away when I reached the site. There was good fresh new growth on all the seedlings that I found, hopefully when they become more conspicuous as they get taller the wallabies will still find them too difficult to reach. The bad news is that after seeing very, few new seedlings of Sycamore Maple