We were very fortunate to have a fine and sunny day for our annual Koala Count. With so much rain in recent days we fully expected to be walking through showers and cold winds. Twelve people came along for the count which started at the Great Otway National Park sign on Grey River Road.
For the first section of the walk there seemed to be fewer koalas and we thought they may have moved further down the hillside.
However as we progressed the numbers increased.
The general condition of the forest eucalypts was good. There were however signs of over-browsing on some of the trees, especially those growing along the lower side of the ridge. Many of those trees had died.
Along the way we saw other local wildlife including two Red-necked Wallabies, two Wedge-tailed Eagles, Yellow Robins and large numbers of Pied Currawongs. At the top of the hill where we had lunch, we heard the unmistakable sounds of a Rufuous Bristlebird.
We were also witness to a territorial dispute involving two koalas. One was lying in a prone position along a fairly thin branch, while another one sat a little way apart on the same branch.
As we watched, the larger male moved aggressively towards the younger, vulnerable one until it could move no further and looked to be in danger of falling several metres to the ground. Eventually the male retreated, and climbed higher up the trunk . An international tourist joined us and was also able to watch the drama unfold which is a rare treat as in most cases, during the day, koalas are inactive and most of the ones we see are curled up asleep.
Some of our helpers enjoying the experience:
We managed to count a total of 88 koalas, all adults, apart from one independent juvenile, and another much younger one on its mother’s back.
It was a very pleasant walk, in good weather, and everyone enjoyed the day.
Report – Kaye Traynor