|Subject:||Box-ironbark trip - Victoria|
|Date:||Wed, 9 Nov 2005 14:35:59 +1100|
A short report for the list.
Armed with Chris Tzaros' new book (Wildlife of the Box-Ironbark Country, see: http://www.publish.csiro.au/samples/Box%20IronbarkSample.pdf) we visited the following Victorian Grey Box- Red Ironbark woodlands over the first weekend in November 2005.
Big Tottington Nature Conservation Reserve (NCR)
St Arnaud Range National Park (notably Teddington Reservoirs campground)
All these localities are south of St Arnaud township which is due west of Bendigo and Dunolly in the central Victorian goldfields region. St Arnaud has all facilities and is a regional centre in this part of Victoria.
We also visited the Paddys Ranges State Park which is immediately south of Maryborough and due north of Ballarat and Clunes. These reserves have all been upgraded in status since the Victorian Government's Box-Ironbark Investigation back in 2001. This was evident in the new signage that accompanied the entrances to these areas.
Each location had its own attractions for wildlife and the understorey was in flower after good regional rainfall it appeared. Dams in Big Tottingon NCR (off Gravel Pit Tk.) held water (for the first time in many years I understand) and this enabled us to set up a chair and watch the never-ending parade of Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters and Fuscous Honeyeaters plus Black-chinned, Brown-headed and White-plumed making up the smaller honeyeater group coming down for a drink and to bath. We could hear Painted Honeyeaters nearby but they proved elusive to track down. Rainbow Birds had arrived overhead at one stage and the dams had a few Pobblebonk Frogs (Limnodynastes dumerilli) in them which added to the restful bush sounds during our visit.
St Arnaud Range NP is the largest Conservation reserve in this area but we only briefly visited the campground at the Teddington Reservoirs as over a day of rain had washed out all except the hardiest campers. This location had some water though (in the southern dam) and probably would be good for waterbirds.
The highlight for our trip was Dalyenong NCR which is roughly half way between St Arnaud and Maryborough. This area along Centre TK. had a superb understorey with much in flower (though little eucalypt flowering) and a variety of habitat types from open box woodland in the northern section of the track to almost pure stands of Red Ironbark and lots of coarse woody debris on the ground at the southern end.
No Regent Honeyeaters and only a single species of lorikeet (Little) but most places we visited had the 'usual' suite of woodland birds (Brown Treecreeper, Yellow-tufted h/e, Peaceful Dove, White-browed Babbler, Dusky Woodswallow etc) but there was invariably a highlight along the way.
At the official campground in Paddys Ranges State Park we had Crested Bellbirds all around us and in the nearby forest along the walking tracks. A single Diamond Firetail repeatedly landed near our tent to feed and gave the impression of possibly having a nest nearby. It was quite happy to forage in the open while we packed the tent or made tea on the stove. This area had the greatest density of Crested Bellbirds I have experienced to date. We estimated that the immediate area probably had up to 20 or so birds with 2 - 3 males singing at any one time (mainly mornings and late afternoon). A special treat to be woken before dawn by the bell-like call of Crested bellbirds while snoozing in ones tent.
I strongly recommend a visit to the Dalyenong Nature Conservation Reserve and Paddys Ranges State Park. Any season, except maybe high summer, would be a good time to make a trip. Winter time would have the wattles in flower and possibly the ironbarks as well. Chris Tzaros' new book is an invaluable addition if you visit any part of Victoria's box-ironbark region and has much useful information of the areas wildlife and reserve system.
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