Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Birdwatching at Puckapunyal

This afternoon I headed off to the Australian Army base at Puckapunyal in central Victoria. I met up with biologist Dr Bob Anderson to look at the reforested box ironbark forests in this 400 square kilometre military area. Its an interesting and active army base with firearms, tank and other military training.

I wasn't there particularly to look at the military side but did notice the extent to which the Australian Army outsources various activities in such facilities to private firms such as Transfield and Spotless. I wonder if it would be feasible to get one of my business students to study the efficiencies of outsourcing in this context!

My main objective was to look at flora and fauna and particularly to go birdwatching. We had a bit of luck during the afternoon spotting a trio of Powerful owls (Ninox strenua), comprising 1 female and 2 juveniles, in a redbox. Later in the afternoon we pursued, without success, a single Barking owl (Ninox connivens) near a lakeside close to the entrance. Other good birds seen during the afternoon were Painted button quail (Turix varia) whose oval signatures in the leaf litter appeared everywhere and White-bellied cuckoo shrike (Coracina papuensis) which are uncommon this far south in Australia.

I noticed several Grey kangeroos taking a dip in dams around the site which I have not seen before. We also found a Echidna, a very large Rd-belly black snake in a dry creek bed and plenty of Black wallabies and Emus in the grassy areas.

This is some of the best woodland country I have seen in Victoria and it is highly commendable that the Australian army have done such a great job of maintaining and enriching biodiversity values on the site. Unfortunately it is not open to the general public.

It was a memorable afternoon. In the New Year I'll try again for a Barking Owl.


conrad said...

Speaking about birds,

I saw a whole flock of black cockatoos in Brighton (!) for the first time ever. I think the drought may be forcing them into the city, which is what happened to Sydney many years ago. SPeaking of Sydney, I'm pretty sure you can see barking owls in Sydney around Maquarie (you should have looked harder when you were there!).

I'm surprised about the quail you saw -- I thought they were almost impossible to see. Hopefully the army guys have been shooting any feral cats.

hc said...

Conrad, The quail are easy to see in the mornings - hard mid-afternoon. They have anti-feral initiatives against cats, foxes.

Liam Lenten said...


Greetings from Exeter. Puckapunyal is very close to my hometown of Heathcote - wouldn't have picked it for great birdwatching, but your post brought back memories of being woken up by those sounds during military exercises

Anonymous said...

"They have anti-feral initiatives against cats, foxes."

I have heard the ferals are quite bad over there. Thank you for an interesting blog. :-)