Friday, 4 November 2011

The local Conservation Reservoir birdlife

The cygnets this year were originally from a clutch of six, but a local resident told us a fox had attacked and killed the three other cygnets. Unfortunately she had also lost some of her free range chickens to this feral monster, who killed the birds for the 'fun' of it then left their tortured and lifeless bodies in her front garden. My God, I hate foxes so much....
Cattle Egret near Tyers
While we were away last weekend for my birthday we drove through the Nojee State Forest en route to Helesville Sanctuary when a wild dog ran in front of the car on the highway. It appeared to look just like a dingo, but upon stopping to see if we could spot it, we also saw it's pup sitting on the edge of the road waiting for it. The pup looked like a black kelpie cross, and it too, quickly vanished into the forest. Its an amazing coincidence really, as last time we were in the Nojee State Forest to visit the Ada Tree we saw another wild dog. That one looked like an enormous border collie, and like this dingo look-alike, it seemed rather carefree and unafraid of our presence or of being seen. In fact, it trotted along down the gravel road in front of the car for some distance before veering off into the trees.
Reed Warbler at Glengarry

 It was the first time we had ever seen a wild dog, so we were terrified of it after hearing some horror stories about being bailed up and attacked by a pack of them from Alan's ex step-father. As a fireman fighting the 2009 bushfires, Mark (Alan's ex step father) had encountered a pack of these wild dogs in a remote area of the bush and was lucky he did not sustain some serious injuries. Another time Alan and I were visiting the Moondarra State Park when we spotted what appeared to be a large black panther sniffing around a camping area. We took photos of it from a distance, and when we got home zoomed the images on the computer to get a closer look.
Chestnut Teal breeding pair

The images clearly showed the 'panther' to be a large, black, and evidently feral cat of a size slighter larger than a regular pet cat. It's tail looked bushier and it's coat coarser than a domestic cat, but it definitely was no panther. It was a lot more fearful than these wild dogs appear to be though, as it ran off as soon as it noticed our presence from around 400 metres away. Feral animals cause massive problems for native wildlife and have greatly contributed to the decline in numbers of many threatened and extinct species.

 I have great concern for the future of lyrebirds in Gippsland if feral animals continue to remain such a huge problem, as they would no doubt be extremely vulnerabletobeing preyed upon by them. Many times we have come across lyrebirds while bushwalking either by following their very loud and easily identifiable calls and mimicry, or just by walking past them where they have remained scratching and foraging in forest debris for food, completely unaware or uncaring of us being within metres of them. I have read and heard many times that lyrebirds are shy and unassuming and hence rarely seen, but have indeed found the exact opposite to be true in my experience. We often see them and nearly always hear them whenever we have bushwalked in habitat suited them.

 I have also seen them running across roads while driving many times near bushland too. One ran across the road near Nojee in fact, on the same weekend we were there for a holiday just last week.
I have decided I will put aside some time to think about ways I could possibly contribute to ensuring their longevity as a species, and to the eradication of feral animals as well. So far I have researched volunteering opportunities with Birds Australia and have registered to become an atlasser whilst enquiring about field work involving the critically endagered Helmeted Honeyeater species.

More on that later, but for now, here are some other shots I have taken over the last few days and weeks since deciding to stop all volunteer administration work with Pet Society facebook groups. Yes, I am back to walking, bird watching, and having a passion for the environment once again, and despite my concerns about feral animals, have not felt better in a long time.

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