Everything happens in April. This is just a fact of my life somehow. But! I promised I would try to go somewhere in April, and so I managed to just squeak in a late-day visit to Narrandera Common yesterday, after the annual koala count had ended.
I usually attend the koala count, but was unable to this year, but I figured I could head out there in the afternoon and at least find the beribboned trees the counters had located koalas in. In about a 2 hour period I managed to find three. The rest must have been cunningly hidden, or at least away from the trails I was following. I did speak to a local person who had participated in the count, who said they’d found a total of 29 koalas across the whole count area, so I guess I just needed to look harder for the marked trees.
While I was making my way around, looking for trees sporting ribbons and koalas, I took a few pictures of other things I saw, and just as the light was going I stopped to take some pics of a small group of kangaroos, and was super excited to see a wallaby nearby. Said wallaby was then kind enough to stay put, nearby and plainly visible, while I tried to take some photos in the fading light.
So here are my photos from my little trip to Narrandera Common yesterday:
I have been so busy this month that I nearly didn’t manage a field visit, but with today being the last day of the month, the weather being nice, and my having no hugely urgent work that desperately needed to be done today, I decided to take a day off and go for a walk/drive out bush somewhere.
I further decided that ‘somewhere’ would be MIA1 – a former state forest reserve that is now part of the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park, and is located between Narrandera and Leeton. MIA1 is one of the sadly numerous reserves in the Riverina that I have spent my life driving past, but never actually visiting. I fixed that today.
Today was the Annual Koala Count in Narrandera. I have been every year for the last several years, except when it’s been called off because of rain or flooding, and as I did last year, I decided the Count could be April’s official field visit.
I believe I have previously mentioned that this has been an unusually wet year – well it’s gotten wetter. All the creeks across the region are over-top, as is the river in several places, and there is so much standing water in paddocks just from rainfall that it’s impossible to tell if you’re looking at flooding from a waterway or not.
I was tempted to just drive around and take photos of all the water everywhere for this month’s field trip, but in the end I decided to head to Narrandera Common, so you can compare this month’s photos with ones I’ve taken there on previous visits.
With both Bundidgerry Creek and the Murrumbidgee River to contend with, Narrandera Common currently looks like this:
Every April the Narrandera Koala Regeneration Committee and the National Parks and Wildlife Service organise Narrandera’s Annual Koala Count. I was told recently that this is one of the longest-running citizen science wildlife monitoring programs in Australia (or maybe just the longest-running koala-specific one – possibly both, I’m not sure). I don’t remember how long it’s been going, but I think somewhere around 20 or 25 years.
Bonus post because I attended an outdoor artistic event at Narrandera Common this weekend and was completely delighted by the amount of koala activity going on in the midst of it all. It’s currently breeding season, and while I was out there I heard at least two male koalas bellowing, and several other koalas – likely females – were spotted by myself and others.
I was very pleased to get this photo of one of the males bellowing.
If you’ve never heard a bellowing koala, it’s quite an experience, they look far too placid to make such a noise. Here’s a Youtube video I found to give you some idea.
In my first attempt to keep my promise to you and myself to try and get out more in June – and to celebrate the end of the work assignment that kept me chained to my desk every waking moment of the past two weeks – I headed back to Narrandera Common yesterday for a walk along the canal bank.
I’m not counting this as an official monthly field visit, because I did one to Narrandera Common in February, so the official June Field Visit is yet to come. Maybe count this as in lieu of April or May – especially as I had intended to visit Narrandera Common in April, for the annual koala count, which unfortunately got rained out and cancelled, and I did see some koalas yesterday (scroll down for pics).
Instead of walking through the interior of the woodland, as I did in February, I decided to walk along the canal bank this time. The Main Canal comes off of Lake Talbot at Narrandera, right next to the Common/Wildlife Reserve, and goes on to feed the Murrumbidgee and Coleambally Irrigation Areas downstream. There is a lovely broad, flat walking path along the edge of the canal for several kilometres, from the gate into the Common down to the Rocky Waterholes Footbridge. This is a very popular place for walkers as it’s a lovely easy grade and you can set your own pace, there’s no vehicular access except occasionally for maintenance (or emergency) vehicles, and you have the great experience of walking along with river red gum woodland on one side, and the canal and Lake Talbot on the other. This gives a great cross-section of bush birds and waterbirds in one place, with a high probability of seeing a koala or several, and the rather lower but not impossible chance of coming across a turtle or water-rat. Something went very loudly ‘splosh’ right behind me yesterday as I was looking at birds in the trees, and I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to see what it was. The bank is also raised higher than the floodplain the trees grow in, so you’re at lower-branch level for many trees, which brings a lot of the more arboreal wildlife closer and easier to see.