I'm working on weather data collection through some of the recently
burnt areas around Mt. Buffalo and Mt. Hotham in ne Victoria and have
been making a few bird observations as I go.
The drive up Mt. Buffalo showed most areas totally burnt-out but some
relatively untouched. The fires reached the summit but were patchy in the
snowgums. Large portions of the wet meadows are burnt out also. For the
skiers among us - there has been extensive damage to the Digno Dell lifts
but the Cresta lifts were OK. Birds were heard at most stops with the
main species being White-throated Treecreepers, Crimson Rosellas, Striated
Thornbills, Kookaburras, White-naped Honeyeaters and the occasional Pied
Currawongs. We saw two lyrebirds in the middle of extensively burnt
areas. At the top were quite a few raptors - Brown Falcons, Wedge-tailed
Eagles and a single Black-shouldered Kite. Also a few Welcome Swallows,
Pipits, Grey Fantails and Scrubwrens. From the carpark near The Horn I
heard what was probably a Pilotbird calling from an unburnt gully.
The slopes of Mt. Hotham are probably more extensively burnt than those of
Mt. Buffalo. The forest was subsequently much quieter - at some stops no
birds were heard. The summit area was probably less burnt than on Buffalo
and there appeared to be no damage to the chalets and snow infrastructure.
A few birds were seen at the top - lots of Brown Falcons, a few Flame
Robins and a Pipit or two.
These two areas, of course, only represent a small fraction of the nearly
1,000,000 ha of forest burnt and more will burn over the next few weeks.
Birdlife in the Ovens valley appears to be normal with a good range of
species recorded over the last few days (50-60 species in all).
Conditions in the valley have been rather unpleasant with dense smoke most
days. Yesterday at 10am visibility was down to a couple of hundred metres
- dangerous for flying and hard on the eyes and throat. Today was clear
but very hot.
Rain would solve many problems up this way but a good sign today was a
small area of forest with burnt Eucalypts sprouting from epicormic buds.
Life will return and I hope there are plans being drawn up to monitor the
regeneration of flora and fauna over the years to come.
Ovens, North East Vic
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