Another night walk in the Wombat Forest

Another night walking a transect, doing a spotlight survey in the Wombat State forest looking for endangered species.
Tonight’s star of the show was Powerful Owl.
These are such awesome birds. They are Australia’s largest Owl growing up to 65cm length with a wing span up to 1.3m. They are seriously large predators. From the track only its head could be seen.

After letting it get used to our presence we were able to move and change angle so we could see it front on.

So now we know why it stayed while we moved. It’s dinner in it’s claw, an adult ring-tailed possum looks small as compared to the owl. I would guess it will share its meal with its mate who we could hear but not see in the surrounding darkness. What a great find and despite not seeing any Greater Gliders, who are also food for the Powerful Owl, it was such a great night to be out.

If you get the chance a walk at night in a forest or even your backyard in Australia with a good torch is a great way to see what is out and about at night. Thanks to Upper Campaspe Landcare Network for organising this walk.

Update and Apologies

We are having some technical issues here getting our videos uploaded to youtube. I was away working for a while and so missed a week but since getting back I have tried to upload clips but our internet keeps falling over. I hope to get this sorted out this week and catch up on what has happened in the last month. Mark

A Shower of Rain, Koala and Glorious Stars

A brief respite in the summer heat and a few drops of rain raised spirits and gave the whole environment a chance to draw breath.

There is nothing like the smell of summer rain in the Australian bush. It is a heady smell of freshness and eucalyptus unique to the Australian bush, hard to describe but it raises the spirits and the whole environment seems to heave a collective sigh of relief. Although we only had some brief showers the light rain refreshed everything, humans, plants and animals alike.

We had a visit from one of our local male Koalas. His territory overlaps our place here and he is a regular visitor. Koalas can be very hard to see and find which is surprising given their size. But tucked in against a tree trunk or when they get up in the canopy they are so hard to spot. It is nice to be able to show him being so active, during the day they tend to just sit, especially in the heat of summer. At different times of the year they feed on different trees. Over the last few months I have noted they were feeding on Messmate stringybark, Eucalyptus obliqua. The Manna Gums, Eucalyptus viminalis have just started putting on new growth and so I guess he is after the fresh green foliage so this likely accounts for the shift in diet. I enjoy seeing and noting changes like this as it gives you a understanding of how all the environment is connected together, a sum of lots and lots of smaller parts and actions.

This male was nice and close to the house so was spotted as he moved about, otherwise finding a Koala is a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack, too many trees and very few animals. As far as I can tell the population here, while small, is pretty stable and sustainable. If you live in the Central Victoria there is an active monitoring project where you can log a Koala sighting and I encourage you all to do so. Macedon Ranges Koala Project It is a great way of monitoring our populations and participating in citizen science and the sight contains a wealth of local Koala information.

Finally to the stars. We had a run of clear nights here and I needed no excuse to timelapse our wonderful night skies. Each shot essentially runs for an entire night so while time consuming the results I think are spectacular. The Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds are spectacular at the moment and make it worthwhile going outside and just looking up once the sun sets on clear nights. Our altitude here, 600m (just under 2000ft) means we are often get clearer skies and great views of the stars. So enjoy our night skies of January. Until next week.

Time to start the filming

Well the time has come to start the filming. So tomorrow I will be out with the camera and seeing what I can find. Had a little look today and it was pretty quiet, but then you never know when something will happen or not. So the only way to do this is to do the hours and trust myself that I will find something interesting. (or at least more interesting than me babbling on to camera)

So time to sleep, gear is sitting ready to go. Batteries charged, lenses clear and data cards cleared. Wish me luck.