Forest updates

Azure Kingfisher

One of the highlights of the year so far was to see an Azure Kingfisher here for the first time. Libby said she saw one down at the dam, so I took the binoculars and camera down that afternoon while I was working on the birdhide and there it was! The first new species from the hide! I watched it fishing, and to my astonishment it caught a fish. It came close enough for me to get a couple of nice shots. I had introduced some Pygmy perch into the dam 2 years earlier to try and build up the ecosystem with small fish first then I had planned to introduce some bigger ones down the track. I released 30 of them…and never saw them again… until this one in the Kingfisher's beak.


Kingfishers are thought to be in decline and one of the main drivers is loss of prey species. Most of our creeks and rivers don’t have healthy fish populations so basically there is not enough for kingfishers to eat.

Has adding the Pygmy perch bought Kingfishers to this area? I like to think so, so hopefully the Pygmy perch are breeding well enough to sustain this beautiful visitor. It has been here for two months now. It has inspired me to add more fish so i have been in contact with a native fish breeder to see if there are some Dwarf galaxias suitable to re-introduce here.

Lewin's rail

Just this week, Victoria and I recorded another new species of bird at the dam. We have identified it as the elusive and threatened Lewin’s rail. The second new one from the birdhide! There were only 5 records on the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas in South Gippsland, so this makes it 6. The beautiful bird was spreading it’s wings out to catch the sun by the waters edge. I have set up the trail camera down at the location to try and capture it on video. Not the best photo but enough to id it and to confirm they are here.

Read more about Lewin's rail here:

Fox Trapping

Foxes are a recognised as a major threat to Lewin’s rail (and just about every other species here) so our trapping program is important. I trapped another Fox on Saturday, which is not a pleasant job but it is a huge win for the animals of this forest. Here are some numbers about the impacts of fox predation of native species.

Using these figues on the left on average an adult fox will kill and consume 52 reptiles, 65 birds and 216 mammals per year, a total of 333 native animals per year (this number does not include amphibians, insects or turtles and their eggs which also are hunted by foxes.)


So I did some rough calculations…

A fox typically lives for 4- 5 years in the wild and statistically, foxes caught are about 1 year old.

So catching a 1 year old fox means that it can’t consume our native animals for the next 3-4 years of its life.

This comes to over 1000 native animals that won’t be eaten by this fox.
This is a bit simplistic as maybe another fox might move into its territory, or a cat… but I try to imagine 1000 of our native species, the bandicoots and antechinus, lyrebird chicks and now Lewin’s rails that now have a slightly better chance... and it helps me to set the next lot of traps. 

Researchers estimates foxes kill 1071 reptiles, birds and mammals per square km every year in forested areas like these, 20 times more than feral cats!
(55 /km2/yr)
This forest is about 1.2 square km in size so it is frightening to think how many native animals are killed here every year by foxes. 

Trust for Nature

We recently had John, Gaby and Michael from Trust for Nature visit and they had their drone that is used for surveying remote and difficult to access properties. It was wonderful to see up into the canopy and get another perspective on the forest. There are so many applications, mapping, surveying high treetop hollows, seeding steep gullies, high resolution photos over time to track forest vegetation changes. A drone is now on the wish list after seeing this in action…

Left - a gap in the forest with some blackberry starting to become a problem.

Biolinks project

I am also pleased to be able to tell you that I have just started working part-time with EcoGipps to work with supporting the creation of a Biolink between the Strzeleckis and Cape Liptrap. The Biolink project is about connecting forests, properties, people and our threatened species. There are so many great people working on conservation projects in this local area and my role will be to support them and to work toward protecting and enhancing South Gippsland's natural environment, a natural extension of the work I have been doing with the Tarwin River Forest. I am excited to be working on this new project with such wonderful people.

You can read more about the some of the projects here:

left - Mycena clarkeana in full bloom!

Great finish to 2022!

The end of 2022 was an exciting time for us here. Our neighbours magnificent forested property came up for sale, but unlike here was not protected by a covenant and could possibly be cleared by new owners. It has some excellent wet forest gullies and damp forest, the same threatened and endangered forest communities as here. It was urgent to get this property protected by a conservation covenant. We contacted Trust for Nature and our neighbour Libby and I met with the agent to do a quick initial inspection for them, taking a few notes and a lot of photos.

left: View down the Tarwin River valley across both properties.


It was a long couple of weeks as we waited for word on the sale but I am pleased to be able to now report that it has been secured by Trust for Nature for their revolving fund with help from Biodiversity Legacy. The forest will be permanently protected by a conservation covenant! This adds another 150 acres to the growing cluster of linked reserves and covenants in the area. This is a small but important win for South Gippsland’s remaining forests.The Trust for Nature revolving fund purchases properties of high conservation value, places a conservation covenant on the property and then resells the now protected property. They are currently working on the management plan and the covenant protected property will be offered for sale when this is completed.

For more details on the revolving fund have a look at:

It was also good to meet the team from EcoGipps and BioDiversity Legacy, they are doing some great work securing and protecting properties and working with land covenanters, Gunaikurnai traditional owners and local community groups. You can read more about them here:

left: Documenting recently identified Mountain silkpod (Parsonsia brownii).


As part of trying to reverse biodiversity loss and to achieve its international commitments, the federal government has recently announced a new nature repair market scheme which will make payments to landholders who undertake revegetation and biodiversity protection work on their properties. The details of the scheme are yet to come, but hopefully this will make biodiversity protection along with carbon farming an economically viable alternative for landholders to recent (last 200 years…) extractive and unsustainable land use practices. We hope that existing covenants like ours will be able to access this new scheme.

Thankyou again for helping us to not only support this forest but in working toward securing the future of the remaining forests in the area.

left: the long-necked turtles have resurfaced for summer!

Blue-winged parrots


Photographed this Blue-winged parrot through the Cassinia yesterday. Found a pair in the same area as last year almost to the day! It is in the middle of their nesting season so I am hoping they have come here to breed. They are listed as vulnerable to extinction, their population declining by over a third. One of the major threats is habitat loss through continued unsustainable land clearing in Tasmania where a lot of them migrate to breed. Not a lot is known about them. Hopefully we can stop their decline before they go the way of their close relative the Orange-bellied parrot. You can read more here:

Left: Blue-winged parrot (Neophema chrysostoma)

Bogong moth


A Bogong moth paid us a visit on Sunday night. The moth was listed as endangered last year due to a catastrophic decline in numbers.

For more about the Bogong moths local cultural importance:

To help them and the Pygmy possum that depend on them for survival you can help researchers by registering any observations with moth tracker.

Left: Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa)

bluegum plantation
Our Accidental Bluegum Plantation


Winter is a great time for getting out and walking in the forest without fear of standing on a tiger snake! So I make use of the cool weather to get out and make and maintain access walking trails and to monitor the more inaccessible parts of the property. One of the major tasks this year was to make a boundary trail with the HVP (Hancock Victorian Plantations) forestry plot to our north and to map our own bluegum plantation. This was difficult at times as the property boundary does not always follow the easiest path and there are a few steep sections. I have completed about 2km of walking trail and there is about 200m to go… hopefully I can get it done before the snakes wake up! I used a gps to approximately determine the boundary and have been using our own maps and maps supplied by HVP.

hvp map

This trail is important as HVP will be logging the forest soon and we need to be able to easily access the area. We are planning a meeting on site with Trust for Nature and HVP in order to ensure that this property is not damaged in any way by logging operations.

We are not sure how it happened but around 35 years ago forestry clear felled our native forest and planted 21 acres of bluegums on this property. I am worried that logging contractors will assume that the bluegums on this property are just part of the HVP plantation, as there is no break or fence and the boundary does not follow the ridgeline. Hopefully the meeting with HVP will put my mind at rest…

left: The green line shows the property boundary. Areas marked A, B and C show areas of the HVP plantation (mauve) that overlap onto this property. The yellow areas are conservation areas called custodial lands, and from what I have seen they contain some spectacular native forest.

Strzelecki koala

These plantation areas on our property are now protected under the covenant and will not ever be harvested, and are slowly reverting back to native forest. Bluegums can reach an estimated age of 400 years and can grow to be 100m tall but you are unlikely to ever encounter one of these as they were all felled for timber by around 1900. If you know where there are mature bluegums please let me know as I would love to go and have a look.

Bluegums are native to the Strzelecki ranges (Eucalyptus globulus) and are a preferred food source for the Strzelecki Koala that we regularly hear in that area. Our bluegums will be an important resource for them once the larger plantation has been logged. And the bluegums here are storing carbon at a faster rate than the forest average!

Thanks again for your support, it is wonderful to have such a great group of sponsors that enable us to better protect this forest and all those who call it home!

read more here on the Strzelecki Koala

left: Koala near our driveway entrance. Thankyou Libby for this great pic!


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Feral Goats and Fungi


Yesterday was spent tracking a group of feral goats that we had heard calling from the house. The goats are small and agile and can squeeze through tight undergrowth. They have acute hearing so it is difficult to get close. Victoria had a compass at the house and when she heard a goat call, texted me the bearing so I could triangulate their position. It was working pretty well and I got within sight (and smell...) a couple of times but they fell silent and I lost the trail.

I will persist as they have done major damage to areas of the forest and in some places there are no new seedlings or saplings as they have been eaten. They've even pushed over and snapped young trees to then browse the leaves. Removing all the goats is one of the most important things we can do to protect and regenerate this forest.

Left: Feral goat caught on remote camera in a badly goat effected area near the Tarwin River in March 2021. It was culled in November.


But the day wasn't wasted. With a little rain and some cooler weather, now is the time many fungi are fruiting. Although I returned with no goats I did get over 100 pics of interesting fungi. There are so many different and amazing fungi here, from your classic mycena shaped mushrooms through to corals and polypores. The forest contains what could be descibed as an invisible great barrier reef of hidden mycelium. Some fruit consistently but others only every 5-10 years so I expect to keep adding new species to the growing list.

Tarwin River Forest fungi (and slime mould) observations

Forest Camera

I retrieved the camera trap yesterday after placing it where I had seen what looked like bandicoot diggings down near the Tarwin River. I was hoping to see what they are up to and to see if there are still feral goats over there.

There were 264 videos triggered, about an hour of animal footage in total. The lyrebirds both male and female were very active in the area and it was wonderful to see pilotbirds for the first time. This is a small bird that follows the lyrebird taking advantage of their powerful legs to feed on what the lyrebirds turn up. This is also the first time we have seen a grey kangaroo in the forest, and it was very interested in the camera. There were about 20 videos of it sniffing and pawing at it!

In bad news there is a new feral cat, the second huge panther-like one. The first cat looks like the same one I have been seeing on camera for the last 2 years. Good news is there are still bandicoots despite the cats and foxes.
Here are the highlights from the camera below.

Forest Camera January 2022

Agile Antechinus, Blue-winged parrots and Southern brown tree frog

Earlier this year we found a group of small marsupials living around the shed. We suspected that they were not your average house mouse and managed to get a picture of one that had fallen into a barrel and couldn't get out. I placed a tree-fern frond into the barrel and stood back and watched as it climbed out and scurried away.
It has been identified as an Agile Antechinus (Antechinus agilis) thanks to iNaturalist and help from our neighbour Libby. They have a very interesting life-cycle. You can read more about them here.

We also had a visit from a pair of Blue-winged parrots. We have our resident birds like the lyrebirds and superb fairy-wrens which are always a joy to watch but it is always exciting to see a new bird here for the first time. According to Birdlife Australia they are often found in pairs or small groups and breed in Tasmania and southern Victoria in tree stumps and hollows. Not a lot is known about their migration behaviour, but their sighting here adds a little more to the picture.

Left: Southern brown tree frog (Litoria ewingii) a stunning resident of our creeks and dams. Currently the dams are full of their tadpoles and those of our other frogs, the striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronii) and the whistling tree frog (Litora verreauxii). I have been using the Australian Museum app called FrogID for identifying calls, it is a great resource.

Is this Beenakia dacostae?

Back in August I found this unusual fungi down in one of the wet gullies attached to a soft tree-fern frond. I couldn't find it in any of my field guides or on iNaturalist. I posted some photographs and after some time, through iNaturalist, I got in contact with Tom May the principal mycologist at the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens who suggested that it might be an unusual "flat" form of Beenakia dacostae, itself an uncommon species and listed as near-threatened on the global Red-list of Threatened Species for Australia. It is one of the very few fungi to make the list. 

I had collected a small part of the fungi and bought it back up to the house to get a better photograph, and to have a look at the spores with the microscope to see if that might help with identification (it didn't). Fortunately, I had kept it and was able to send this collection up to Tom for DNA analysis. 

Your sponsorship allows me to dedicate time to this valuable work. There is so much we don't know about our unique biodiversity, and we are losing species at an alarming rate. It will be interesting to see if this is an aberrant form of Beenakia dacostae or something new perhaps?

We have also reached our 400th species recorded with iNaturalist this week!


I have been uploading all of our species records onto iNaturalist at our local Trust for Nature coordinator John Hick's suggestion. Today I added my 300th species, so thought it was a good milestone to share it with you. (and yes it is a fungi...) John thought it would be a great way to have a permanent record of the species here, as unfortunately quite a few species that we have here have been upgraded to threatened and endangered so it is important to have these recorded. Ganggangs are now endangered in Victoria (we have a few here that nest every year near the house) and we also have the powerful owl and platypus.

Researchers and naturalists monitor the site for observations relevant to their particular area of interest and they can assist  with species identification. Once you have agreement from 2 or more identifiers the observation becomes "research grade" and is then sent to the ALA (Atlas of Living Australia, managed by CSIRO) that records species data to inform scientific research, biodiversity decision making by governments and funding for conservation programs. So recently whenever I have a few spare minutes I have been entering observation data and pics.


I have been able to link my iNaturalist page to the Tarwin River Carbon Bank which is a great way to easily show you the extraordinary number of species here. And it looks great!

If you are interested in having a look you can follow the link here:

lyrebirds dancing

Winter is the time for males calling and performing their wonderful courtship displays. There are many active mounds in the forest close to the house and we see males chasing each other through the garden defending their territories. We have some great video of courtship dancing with our motion detecting cameras positioned near an active mound.

view video here on youtube 

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