Visit to Kinglake NP 9 months after the fires.

To: Elizabeth Shaw <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Visit to Kinglake NP 9 months after the fires.
From: Chris <>
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 14:24:34 -0800 (PST)
Thanks for this interesting update on the region Elizabeth.

I read soon after the fires that the helmeted honeyeater might have been burnt 
to extinction in areas. Can anyone update me on the status of this species?


From: Elizabeth Shaw <>
To: Birding Aus <>
Cc: Sophie & Peter Maddigan <>
Sent: Thu, 26 November, 2009 12:57:40 AM
Subject: [Birding-Aus] Visit to Kinglake NP 9 months after the fires.

Having grown up in the Diamond Valley, visits to Kinglake  were a regular 
feature of our childhood.  I remember picnics at Jehosephat Falls, playing in 
the snow at Kinglake near the general store and walks through various parts of 
the National Park.  There were also visits to see the aftermath of fires, but 
none of these compare to the sights still visible nine months the Black 
Saturday Holocaust.  
    Last Saturday I visited the area with Alan Crawford for a spot of 
birdwatching.  It was his first visit - mine the first for several years.      
    Despite assurances at the local restaurant that the Jehosephat Gully 
section was open again after the fires the access was still closed to the 
public, so we headed down the Heidelberg-Kinglake Road and found a couple of 
tracks which were obviously open to the public (no signs prohibiting access due 
to fire damage) near the big concrete water tank at the junction (now closed) 
with the Old Kinglake Road, which used to lead down to Steele's Creek.  We 
tossed a coin and headed up the track which led south.
    The ground was still quite bare except for a few wild flowers and orchids 
on the first section up the hill.  This steep slope faced north-west and bore 
the worst of the flames from Strathewen and Whittlesea on the 10th of Feb.  You 
could see clear down to the sealed road and there were many signs of works to 
prevent erosion in the bare gullies.  Most trees had some epicormic growth, but 
not much, and the many grass trees had survived and had huge flower spikes - 
quite dramatic among the black trunks.  
    This area was silent.  The only birds see was a scattered flock of 
White-browed Woodswallows hawking high above the dead upper branches of the 
trees.  We began to feel quite depressed. 
    The track circled the top of Mt Beggary, then down to the saddle between Mt 
Beggary and Mt Everard.  Almost as soon as it changed direction to the 
southeast there was a significant change.  The fire must have been a bit cooler 
in this section.  There was more bracken and even some grass covering the 
ground and epicormic growth further up the trees.
    There were birds too!  Our first delight was a Spotted Pardalote which flew 
out of a nest burrow almost at my feet at the side of the track.  We could hear 
Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, Bellbirds (Bell Miners), Red Watllebirds, 
White-throated Tree-creepers, and a Kookaburra.  As we were lured further down 
the track than we intended more treasures were revealed; Scarlet Robin (male) 
Crimson Rosella, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Buff-rumped Thornbill.
    What had started out as a depressing drag up the hill became a magical 
experience.  While we had not seen a great list of species we had seen some 
great gems and hope for the future in this area.  
    It was also interesting to see the structure of the mountains.  The lack of 
vegetation meant that the ridges and gullies were more visible.  There were 
also good views of the Diamond Valley and the Yarra Valley from the track.
Elizabeth Shaw
Phillip Island

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