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.