We have been fortunate to experience a wildlife survey first-hand over the past few months.
Associate Professor Barbara Wilson from Deakin University has been working in partnership with scientists from Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to survey long-term mammal monitoring sites in the Otway Ranges. To understand the current wildlife population around Urquhart Bluff, we worked with Barbara to position two motion sensor cameras over a period of several months. The surveying examined both a gully and spur location, monitoring 24 hours a day, bringing some fascinating results.
After a period of fine-tuning we started getting some great photos. The curiosity of the Swamp Wallabies, intently looking into the camera as if knowingly being photographed, to the more cunning fox sneaking past the camera opportunity, the results were fascinating. The regular visit to the cameras became one of anticipation to check what new secrets the photos would uncover.
The spur location brought a regular Swamp Wallaby joey and mother, with an occasional Eastern Grey Kangaroo. The occasional fox was seen, with a more regular hare grazing in the camera’s view.
The gully location photographed a wider range of species, illustrating a higher concentration and variety of wildlife closer to the water course than in the drier, spur location. A Rufous Bristlebird appeared regularly, with a Superb Fairy-wren warily flying in for the odd insect, a bandicoot, dwarfing the separate shots of a smaller Bush Rat, plus a great sequence of an Echidna progressively raising its spikes.
The images of a Ringtail Possum were a terrific highlight.
With constant monitoring, the visitation patterns of the different animals at each site became quite predictable. While not in abundance, the cameras did demonstrate a variety of native species in co-habitation, particularly at the gully site.
Janice and Davin Hopper
It hasn’t been a very good year for Hooded Plover chicks. So far, along the coast from Point Lonsdale to Point Roadknight, only sixteen fledglings have made it through. Many obstacles to the survival of the chicks remain, with large crowds of people using the beaches, dogs running off-leash, and people walking through the sand dunes. In addition, fox, dog, rat and cat footprints have been found in the vicinity of nests. With the monitoring of the breeding season drawing to a close, there are presently two chicks at Collendina, and egg nests at Breamlea and Black Rock dunes, with one and two eggs.
Birds Australia is conducting an online, public survey in a bid to improve its conservation measures for the Hooded Plover on our coast. To participate, go to Birds Australia website.