- Environmental Recording
- Eastern Whipbird
- Environmental Recording
- Environmental Recording
Frogs, insects, birds ambi
Australia; Ian Hume; Koalas
Australia; Ian Hume; Koalas
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
9 Mar 2000
New South Wales
- -32.91667 151.75
- Sennheiser MKH 30
- Sennheiser MKH 40
Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo
Log of DAT #: A-I
Engineer: Manoli Wetherell
Date: March 9,2000
ng =not good
ok = okay
g = good
vg = very good
Alex Chadwick: AC
Manoli Wetherell : MW
Carolyn Jensen: CJ
Ian Hume: IH
:29 IH: ok lets go and see if we can find these koalas. I hope we can get thru the water. That was 4 inches of rain we had last night. Whether we can get across the main creek, we'll see.
AC: do we walk across or drive across?
IH: no if we we can't drive across we can't walk across.
:50-1 :24 AMB w/bugs, frogs
1 :25 MW. While we're waiting for the plane to go by, today is Thursday march 9, doing MIS.
IH: we'll get a lot of those planes going by cuz there's a small airport nearby. The other background noise is the freeway. One reason why we have the perimeter fence.
2:30--4:24 AMB w/bugs, frogs, birds
AC: this is tape #1, it's 10:20 AM
IH: we're 100 K north of sydney, just south of city of newcastle in new south wales. AC: this is a study site for koalas' habitat restoration. IH: a site for establishment and management of koala habitat. AC: this is MIS stereo. MW: right channel is figure 8, left channel is MK40. Are these regular water
IH: yes, most active after rain. After 5 inches of rain, they're pretty active.
AC: what kinds of things can you hear?
IH: Frogs. I'm a koala biologist.!
AC : there's something going cheepcheepcheep and something further back going ... IH: several species of frogs.
6:24 FX: DOOR SLAMMING, GETTING IN CAR
IH: it's funny, I work on a whole range of species, rodents, masupials, birds ... everyone knows me because of the koala work. They don't think I work on other things. Koalas are just magical.
6:51 FX: CAR STARTS, DRIVES AWAY
7:12 IH: trees you can see thru there, the start of the plantings. What we've been driving thru so far is the natural vegetation that was here originally. There's been natural regeneration since we have kept the stock out since about 1993, so what we've got here in this area is a mixture of existing vegetation and a planted section. And the koalas have a choice, they can use either or both.
7:51-8:44 AMB: DRIVING THRU THE BRUSH
AC: very bold heading thru whatever this is.
IH: those bits have a firm bottom. Into forward drive now, and leave it in.
that's a magpie you can see flying up there. That's a good area for wallabees and
kangaroos, particularly later in the afternoon, so we'll check that out later. Now we're
entering the planted section proper. Oh, there's a lake that's not usually there.
AC: the res a lake and a river.
AC: you have to actually see these koala. What happens if you pick up a koala in the middle of that lake with your radio transimitter?
IH: I get wet, and if you're coming with me you get wet too. Sorry.
IH: so we planted 60-thousand what we call tube stock. These are small saplings
about a foot tall with their roots in a metal canister. These were planted mainly in 90 and
91. Most of the plantings you're looking at are 9 or 10 years old. We'll just-take it easy now-because most of the road is gonna be under water. AC: stick the mic out the window as we go thru this water. MW: lemme just get a little reach here.
11:04-11:25 AMB: CAR GOING THRU THE WATER
11:33 IH: there are some gum trees, right? With the smooth bark. MW: start that again please. IH: we'll just stop here and look over to the left, thru these plantings. You' ll see
from the different types of bark on the trees that we've got a mixture. Of several different species. All of them are good koala food species. For instance this one here with the stringy type of bark is called a tellowood and that's one of their favorite species. But if you go to the right there's another rough-barked tree, which has a different leaf. Instead of a smaller yellowish green leaf it has a large and darkish thicker leaf and that's the swamp
mahogany. In this area those are probably the two most favored species. So when the
trees were planted they were planted in a mixture, but because they were sort of selected
from the trailer at random you tend to get a few of one species. Like there are 4
tellowoods and half dozen swamp mahongany next to them, but that's the pattern.
AC: is that something up a tree there? No, just bark peeled back.
13:07 FX: CAR STARTS
IH: we'll head to an area where we can leave the car and should be able to pick
up 4 or 5 different koalas from that spot. If we can get there. We don't know how much
water is over the road.
Not every tree here is a eucalypt. What we're going thru now is a patch of acacia
on both sides and these are not used by koalas, but they're very important food sources for
things like sugar gliders. We have a lot of them in this area, and we provide nest boxes
for them, particularly in the planted areas. One of the limiting resources are nesting sites.
Until the trees get old and develop natural hollows they are limited in terms of places
where small animals can nest.
Just on our left here you'll see the main creek that runs thru the property and I can tell you know that we will not be crossing the creek today because that is probably 10 or 12 feet deep.
AC: even for this car that would be a little challenging.
IH: yes. So we'll stay on the western side of the creek but that's ok cuz most if not all of the koalas will be on this side. So its not much a drama.
15:13 IH: what we're driving thru now is natural regeneration, of engophra. A very close relative of eucalypt. The big trees in front, mature engophra, (M.OTOR OFF), and this what we're driving thru on both sides is just natural regeneration, since we closed the fence in 93 and thereby kept out all domestic stock, sheep and cattle. Cattle in particular are severe on regenerating eucalypt seedlings and saplings. So you can see what happens when you remove that grazing pressure (PLANE OVERHEAD) that the country can respond. And that's one important message to farmers. If they want to regenerate, the first thing to do is to fence out areas and keep their stock out and they will be surprised what regenerates from the seed bank in the ground.
16:22 FX: CAR STARTS, STOPS A FEW SECONDS LATER
16:35 IH: these two cages on the right of the car are small holding areas for koalas. When we initially brought the koalas into the area, what we did was to keep them in the cages under close observation and cut and carry the leaves to the cages. Until we were sure that the animals were adapted to the leaves. No good releasing the koalas in here if they weren't going to eat. But with experience over the last 3-4 years we now know that they will adapt straightaway to the leaves are on offer here so we don't use these holding cages as a staging process anymore, we simply release koalas into trees.
The rough barked tree is the swamp mahogany. and this was an area that was actually under water when they were planted in 1990, and I thought, a couple of years
went by and nothing happened, they didn't move. They didn't die, they survived, but they didn't grow. But then all of a sudden it must have dried out enough and they started to grow. And so the growth that you see there is 6 or 7 years worth, not 10. And I think you can imagine from the amount of water that's lying around today how this place could easily be under water.
18:21 FX; CAR STARTS, DRIVES OFF
18:55 IH: you could start looking up in trees now if you like, because there's always the chance that you'll see a koala. And if you find a koala without a radio collar than there's a bonus at the end of the day because they're the ones that are really hard to find. Even if they've got a radio collar on they can be difficult to find as yull see later in the day, but if they don't have a radio collar, its really tough finding them.
AC : want me to clear that out of the way? IH: I can do it.
19:54 IH: this might be a good place to get some bird calls, particularly the whipbird, which I heard just then.
20:28-27: 1 0 MW: AMBIENCE OF EASTERN WHIPBIRD
IH: it's like the cracking of a whip.
28:04 CJ: when you come across a kangaroo, how do they behave? Or how do we behave?
IH: don't... try not to frighten them and they'll be quite happy, cuz they're not molested in this area. They're fine, they were just moving ....there's another one going across there right now. I don't think alex has been disturbing them cuz there's another one there now, hopping down the road. Probably wondering how they're gonna get across the main creek. Ok, well, we've gotta go find some koalas.
29:10 FX: CAR STARTS, DRIVES OFF
30:19 FX; MOTOR OFF
31:40-34:00 AMBIENCE, CICADAS
IH: ok what I'll do now is check out about 4 or 5 koalas in this pal1icular area, so we can leave the gear in the car and we'll come back to it for lunch. First one is patonga, and she has a particular frequency, it's 150.949 Khz---they're all in that range of 150 to 151 Mhz-so the frequency I just say is 0949. So alex if you can just hold the data book for me and we'll see if patonga is on air this morning. She should be , cuz we're right in the middle of her home range. You'll notice we're in amongst planted trees, this is part of the replanted area (PLANE IS OVERHEAD DURING THIS). And as I said, koalas have a choice. They can stay in the planted areas or. .. STOPS FOR PLANE
36:38 IH: all of our koalas have names. The names were given to them by the aust wildlife park, the donors of the animals, so-I didn't choose the names, OK, but patonga is actually a village close by to this area, and its aboriginal in its origin.
So patonga is a young female that's been in the area for 2 years, she bred for the first time last year, and her juvenile male, Joe, should also still be in this area. He's been independent of his mother patonga since about november. That's when we put the radio collar on him and although he actually managed to shake off the collar at one stage, we did by careful searching find him again. Because he was actually only abut 10 meters from patonga. So he's got a new radio collar on now, and let's hope its still on this morning.
37:52 FX: transmitter turns on, faintly
37:55 IH: now when 1 tune, 1 do the coarse tuning in FM mode and it makes a lot of background noise. But once I've finished coarse tuning then you'll be able to hear less bkgnd noise and hopefully the signal from the animal. So I'll do the coarse tuning now and alex that number you've got there ...
IH: ok well I'm on 0950 now and you can hear the signal.. .its sort of dull .. . so we're not exactly on the right frequency. But as we get closer to the right frequency we get that nice clear crisp signal. So patonga is on air, and from the strength of the signal I can tell that shes not far away from where we 're standing right now. What I'll do right now is I'll tum down the quelch which will quieten her signal but give me more directionality. (WE'RE HEARING BEEPING ALL THRU THIS) it will also minimize interference that I pick up with the receiver. (PLANE OVERHEAD)
41:46 IH: I'll get you to listen to these two signals. One is without the quelch-first of all you can hear background static, and also no difference in the strength of the signal no matter which way I point the antennae.
AC: you're spinning that antennae right around above your head.
IH: right around, 360 degrees. Ok? Now I'll turn up the quelch .. . which gets rid of that background static ... and as I turn the antenna you should hear the signal getting louder as I point: the antenna in the right direction.
42:27 FX: BEEPING GETTING LOUDER
IH: and back again. AC: she's directly ahead of us. IH: Yeah, directly ahead of us. I can tell that patonga is A not far away and B in
that direction directly ahead of us. AC: when you say not far away what do you mean? IH: I guess within 50 meters of us.
AC: you haven't been up there, but in about 20 meters up that way you encounter a lake. (laffs) IH: oh. I see. That's why you took off your boots and put on your waterproof sandals. I see. Well, urn, you may be able to do some radio tracking for me. AC: here we go. Radio expeditions to the rescue.
43:30-43 :53 AMB : WALKING , BEEPING
IH: as I go, walking towards the position I think she's in, I will keep checking, either side of the strongest signal to make sure I'm homing right in on the transmitter.
44:11-45:24 AMB: WALKING, BEEPING, PLANE OVERHEAD
IH: well we've reached the temporary lake. Fortunately the strongest signal is
not directly in front of us. If you'll listen as I turn the antenna, it's now behind us. So
we've actually past patonga even though we have not seen her.
AC: she'd be up this way off to this side here you think?
IH: maybe. I think we just retrace our steps for a start. Now we look attentively up in the trees ... very close ... I'm going to increase the quelch even more, so the signal will be quieter but even more directional. Ok we continue back towards the vehicle.
46:50 IH: we'll just take a break here and look at this tree. This swamp mahogany on the left hand side of the road. You'll see one of the smaller branches up near the top of the tree's been broken?
IH: that's probably because a koala had been browsing in that tree.
AC: that's not a very big tree is it.
IH: its not a very big tree. And koalas are a big animal for climbing around in small branches. So that's quite often a telltale sign for me that koalas are actually active in this area. AC: that tree is no more than 20 feet tall, and it doesn't look big enough to me to support much of an animal.
IH: right. But it does. And they will use these small planted trees in preference for some of the much larger naturally occurring trees in the area, even though some of the naturally occurring trees are classified as good koala food trees. So they have a strong preference in their feeding behavior patterns and activity centers for the regenerated habitat, the plantings.
AC : over the naturally occurring regenerated trees. IH: that's right, yeah. Which says to me that we've chosen the right species of trees to plant here. The right species and the right mix of species.
48:22 AC; so where is patonga?
IH: I'm going to maximize the quelch, because we're very close to her. This demonstrates the problem, cuz even though we know the koala is very near by ... well, I can't see her.
A uSlralia DA T# A-I . -p. 7 vw
AC: it's gotta be one of these trees right here.
AC: there she is! Right up there. There. Right there.
IH: I see her. Yes, right. Well, we walked under this tree a couple of times
without seeing her there, and its really only because of the radio signal that got us looking
intensively in the right tree itself. And contrary to my prediction, she was not within 50
meters of the car, but 10 meters of the car. So I'll just turn off the receiver now, get out
the binoculars and have a good look at her. (PLANE OVERHEAD)
AC: golly. I'm just using my binoculars to look up at this animal which is
maybe 20 feet above us, and that's a heck of a handful of claws she's got on her.
IH: oh yeah, oh yeah. I've just gotta get my binoculars.
AC: I wouldn't' want to shake hands with that thing.
MW: you know they've got two opposable thumbs for tree gripping.
AC: now she's moving around a little. Glancing off.
IH: and to confirm the identification we have color coded ear tags in all of the
radio collared animals and I can see from the color of her tags that yes it definitely is
patonga. I can also tell that because she's quite a small animal.
AC: she's small?
IH: . yeah, she's a small female. Probably only five kg at the most, and she was
even smaller than that when she produced her first young one a year ago.
51:38 AC: now lan, just looking up, that animal is maybe 20 feet away, and thru the binoculars I can see parts of her and the .. . well, her forearm and the claws that it ends in . are just , well, I sure wouldn't want to shake hands with her.
IH: that's right. They're not vicious animals, but even when they are just holding
on to you, because theyre used to holding onto a tree trunk, those claws can do a lot of
AC: they're just huge.
IH: they are huge, yeah. I'm hoping that she also has a new young one in her
pouch, cuz its now march and so its just past the breeding season.
AC: any way to tell?
IH: not at this stage directly because we'd have to go and catch her. I don't want to do that. When they get bigger in the pouch, the females tend to sit back in the branch more, as if theyre making room for this bulge in their pouch. But as I say its too soon after the breeding season. Now the peak of the breeding season would have been around about christmas time. So lets assume that she mated around about christmas, her, a one¬month pregnancy, so around about the end ofjanuary, this little bean-sized juvenile would have come out of cloaca and climbed up into the pouch, attached to a teat, and that's where it will stay for the next six months. So most of the development of any marsupial is not in the womb, but outside of the womb in a protected area feeding on mother's milk. So lactation in any lactat0n in any marsupial is the most energy demanding part of the reproductive cycle.
AC: let me just say here that the koala is sitting upright on a trunk that is maybe 3 inches in diameter, a couple little branches going off from it. Its mostly a light gray, with a much significantly darker patches on the legs, .. I can see the head on this animal. .. the chin is kind of a pale pink, quite furry, a quite lovely animal, but. .. and we 're making a helluva lot of noise down here underneath it, it hasn't paid the slightest bit of attention to us. The only kind of sign that anything has happened, it was facing into the tree and now its kind of turned and its looking off across the forest. But it hasn' t looked down at us at all to take any notice of us.
54:41 IH: No. it knows we're hear, of course. Turned its head just then. But she
reckons the best thing she could do is stay still. AC: ignore us and we 'll go on. IH: yeah. Yeah.
55:31 IH: now although she's sitting still, she's obviously alert because she's turning her head. Its not like she's asleep or drugged like people think koalas are. People think ah they must be drugged on the oils or whatever's in the eucalypt leaves. Well, no, that's not true. They're certainly conserving energy, cuz they don' t get a lot of energy out of the leaves, so they spend a lot of the day sitting quite still. Doesn't mean they're asleep as you can see with patonga. She's now doing some grooming. Remember we had five inches of rain last night, and her fur coat, although it looks in good condition ....
AC: its kind of matted.
IH: it's a little bit matted because of that rain. So she's doing some grooming
now to unrriat some of that fur.
AC: 20 feet...is that the normal. .. where they like to be?
IH: they would prefer to be in a bigger tree than that, but despite the relatively
small size of these planted trees I think the nutritional quality is so much higher than in naturally occurring larger trees that this is what's drawing them into the planted areas. AC: that's about a 30 foot tree, she's at maybe the 20 foot level, maybe a little higher.
IH: yeah, often they're about 2/3 or 3~ of the way up. She's having a bit of a scratch, under the armpits, around the neck, under the armpits again ... oh that's good ... 1'11 bet she's enjoying the sunshine after 3 days of continuous cloud and rain.
57:29 IH: It's unlikely we'll see any closer than this one ... one sign of trouble is if you do see an animal very close to the ground on a lower branch, than I start to suspect there's something wrong. But she's fine. Now shes having a scratch with her back leg. Now I can see her belly ... but still theres no obvious sign of a bulge there. So if she's got a (7) young ... as I was saying the pregnancy is only a month long .. . so the (?) young might only be 2 mos old and so it could be 3-4 inches long. Not enuf to make an obvious bulge in the belly.
By the way I'm using a mixture of metric and imperial. Do you want me to use
one or the other? C]: feet would be nice for our audience. MW: going over to get ambience of bird calls. AC: what kinds of birds? IH: magpies
59:40 MW: ok this is our first koala sighting. No getting magpie amb and water dripping thru trees amb, still doing MIS.
1:00: 19-1 :03 :54 AMB, forest, in.sects, water dripping MW: OK pretty quiet amb, birds, cicadas, traffic sound in the bkgnd
1:05:44 IH: so we just found Joe. Joe is patonga's son, and joe is now 2 years old. We collared him in november last year, the first time we saw him off the mothers back. Its important to collar them at that stage , otherwise they could disperse before you have a chance to get the radio collar on them. And if you don't have a radio collar on them it's like looking for a proverbial needle in a haystack.
AC : is he climbing higher now?
IH: no, he's already at the top. And notice he's right at the top of the tree in the foliage whereas his mother wasn't, she was a third of the way down in much more open part of the tree. This is a very characteristic feature of the behavior of the juveniles. Now whether they know that's the safest place in terms of avoiding predators, I guess that's the explanation, cuz the safest place is right in the densest foliage. Eucalypts are an open foliage tree. So its important I think for these young ones to go for the densest part, which is usually right at the top. Particularly of these young tree.s
AC: but what give a koala like that problems lower down on that tree? I cant imagine anything would get up there and bother them.
IH: theyre .. . the most important predators in this area-remember we've got a predator-proof fence around to keep out the exotic foxes and dogs and cats-so its native predators we're talking about. And the most important of those are aerial. There are powerful owls, our biggest owl, will take a koala getting up towards that size. And there are two eagles, diurnal eagles, the (?) eagle, which is our biggest eagle, and also the white breasted sea eagle, both capable of taking that size animal.
AC: really. IH: yeah. AC: that's quite a big animal up there.
1 :08:02 IH: that' s quite a big animal. He's probably 4 kg, so not much smaller than his mother. AC: that's ten pounds. You've got an eagle that' ll come in here and take something~that big?
IH: sure. Yeah. Yep. And an owl too. Now of course, hiding from predators in that way also makes in doubly difficult for us to find them. I mean we might stumble across patonga walking down the track, but we're most unlikely to be gazing up in the sky and finding young joe here. So its really important to get the radio collar onto these young juveniles before they actually disperse away from their mother. Now he's only probably 80 yards from patongas tree, so he's still within his mothers home range, or his natal range is the term we use. And he could stay here for another few months. But at some stage he'll suddenly disperse and I'll have to go tracking him. And he may go as much as half a mile. But of course you only need to go 100 yards in this habitat and he would be extremely difficult to find without that radio collar on him.
AC: is he a little lighter than his mother? IH: yes he probably is. He looks drier too. AC : a little softer.
IH: his fur doesn' t look as matted as his mothers. But his mother is in good
condition. Sure we've had 5 inches of rain, so I don't wonder that her fur is a bit matted,
but her eyes were clear and the area around her cloaca was clean, and she was doing the
grooming behavior. All of which tell me that she's in fine condition.
Joe has just moved a little, climbing even higher, even though he's within 2 yards
of the top of the tree, he's climbed even higher, so he knows we 're here ... and he's mainly
just staying still, hoping we'll go away I guess. Now he's in a gum, because the bark is
mainly smooth. And it's a flutted gum is the species, eucalyptus grandis. So as the
species names suggests, these become very big trees.
What'll I'll do now, once I've located the animal, is I'll record in the data book
the species of tree its in, the size of the tree, its position in the tree, its activity if any, and
its general appearance. Those things that I talked about, the eyes, the fur, and the area
around the cloaca. I also ...
AC: its gonna be quite a trick describing this animal cuz he's a pretty difficult to
1:11:36 IH: well this is why I've got big binoculars. I also locate the animal on a grid, so the whole area of 400 acres I have gridded out in blocks which are blocks of a hundred yards by a hundred yards. The intersections are not actually physically indicated by a stake or anything like that, but.I can use features of the landscape to get pretty close to where we are. So in this case, patonga was in quadrant H-6 is the road coming down hen!, and joe, her son, is close by in quadrant G-6, only about 80 yards away from here. By this process I can build up a picture of the home range of the animal. Now joe as I said is likely to disperse. Cuz he's still within his natal home range, but once he has dispersed and settled in a new area then I can delineate his home range eventually. But I know for sure that patongas home range is only about maybe 8 acres in extent.
Ok so we' ll go on and try and track the next animal. I just have to make some notes on joe.
1:14:23 IH: the next animal we' ll check out is Wilkenia. Shes another female given to us by the aust wildlife park and name by them, and wilkenia is a town in western new south wa4ss. Again, aR a13eriginal origin to the name.
AC: let me just ask you one thing here cuz its nice and quiet. This land, when you got this land, it looh:d a lot different than it does now? IH: oh yeah. Where we're standing here, apart from the (?) thicket in front of us, this was a clear field with the only thing growing on it was grass. That was 10 years ago.
AC: and look at it now, its kind of young forest all around us.
IH: yeah. Its pretty satisfying actually. To see the transformation from grassland into what I think is prime koala habitat. And that was the mission of course.
AC: was it a mission or an experiment?
IH: well its certainly an experiment cuz noboby's deliberately gone about trying
to restore degraded koala habitat before. Its just too long term for many people to be interested in that. And its taken ten years to get to this stage, but I think we can see its been pretty successful. We've made mistakes along the way of course, b ut we've learned from those mistakes and that's part of the experimental process.
1:16:14 FX: RADIO STATIC, AND BEEPS
1:16:40 FX: ELECTRONIC BEEPING
1:16:54 IH: now we're starting off from directly underneath joe, but the animal we have on air now is wilkenia, the next female, and I think you can tell from the strength of the signal that she's not far away either. But I haven't got much directionality yet, so I'm going ' to turn up the quelch, which will quieten the signal, but give us much more directionality. And in this case the strongest signal is definitely behind us. So. Lets go for a walk.
1:17:37-1 : 19: 19 AMB: WALKING THRU THE FOREST, FOOTSTEPS CRUNCHING
1:19:21 IH: (IN BKGND) now again, we've gone past this animal, so if we turn the
antenna back to where we 've come from, you'll notice the signal gets stronger.
AC: gotta be right up above us.
IH: she has to be very close by now.
AC: maybe this one ...
AC: so what are the tricks in locating a koala by seeing one? Just look up and .. .
IH: practice .. I've located this one ...
AC:: you found her already.
IH: yes, and you're looking in the right direction, but you need to actually find the animal. Come on now. AC: ok. So, it could be that tree or that tree or that tree, or. .. let's see. IH: well, we're gonna have to stop for lunch soon. Another six animals to find
after this one you know. Remember this is an adult female, so she may not be at the top
of the tree like the juvenile ...and in this case she may not even be in a eucalypt.
AC: I've gotta have a little bit more direction.
IH: ok, now look, Carolyn's found her. Ok so she's not in ...
AC: oh there she is! Right there. But she's hiding though. That's not fair.
IH: so she's actually in a melalucca. A paperbark. Quite a small tree, about 15
feet tall. .. AC: so she's very close down-wait for the airplane to pass ...
1:21:48 IH: probably 20 feet. AC: she's closer than patonga.
IH: yeah. And you'll notice the tree is next to a eucalypt, it's a naturally¬ occurring ... we're not in an area of the plantings at the moment, so here's an animal which is using part of the natural range of trees that were here. Now because she's sitting in a paperbark tree right now, doesn't mean to say that she's actually using it for food. So you gotta be careful not to make that mistake. She could well have been feeding in this cabbage gum next to it during the nighttime, but has come down into this thick of foliage in the melalucca during the day. And you'll notice that the day has continued to be sunny, thank goodness, and is getting quite warm. So they will use thicker foliage for sunshine.
AC: I can't quite tell but it looks to me as if she's kinda wedged down there in
among the branches and wouldn't even need to be holding on, really, she's just kinda ...
IH: yeah that's right. That side branch is taking most of her weight, but you'll
notice she's hanging on with the forepaws just to balance. And similarly with patonga,
she was actually sitting not on the main trunk, but on a very small side branch. But
hanging onto the main trunk for balance.
1:23:41 AC: how does she look to you?
IH: well again, she looks good. Her fur isn't matted all from what I can see
without using the binoculars cuz she's pretty close-her fur looks good. I'll have to go
around to the other side to check her eyes. But her back area, the cloacal area is nice and
clean, so no signs of disease or any other problems.
Koalas are by nature solitary animals, so we hardly ever see two or three in the
same tree. But I guess we've walked 200 meters from joe's tree, so they space them out,
but its clear that they all know where each other is. How I don't know, but they do
successfully space themselves.
AC: how about their sensing abilities? Are they very keen in the nose or do they
have good eyesight or ...
IH: we think their eyesight's not that wonderful. But certainly their hearing and their sense of smell are both very keen. Smell and aromas are very important to them, not only in terms of marking territories, cuz the males have a chest scent gland which they use to mark trees that they're using in their territories, but they also sniffthe leaves before they actually try eating them. And I think this has something to do with the balance of the essential oils in the leaves. (?) they always use their sense of smell before they use taste.
1:26:22 IH: OK, well they're the three easiest animals. AC: oh come on now. IH: now I've got to start looking for some of the ... particularly the adult males
which have a much larger home range and shift their home ranges depending on the time of year. So I'm now going to listen for banjo, who is the alpha male. He's the dominant male. He's about twice the size of patonga, about 9 kg or 20-21 pounds. So he's a big animal.
AC: so he' ll be easy to find, huh? IH: yeah. I'll tell you what, he wouldn't be worried by an eagle or an owl though, at that size.
1:27:44 MW: here comes some ambience next to wilkenia.
1:27:50-1:29:48 AMB FROM THAT SITE
AC: another quick question. I just noticed that, although we 're after wildlife, it's not a very wild area. I hear traffic going by, there's a freeway near here, and airplanes a lot from I guess a little airport. So koalas I guess they're not that bothered by the presence of humans pretty close.
IH: that's right, its not the humans, its what comes along with the humans. It's the cars, and dogs in particular. That's why we 've got this predator-proof fence around the perimeter of this area. To keep the koalas in , away from the cars, and keep the dogs, foxes, and cats out, away from the koalas.
1:31:28 IH: so banjo's not even in the area. We've got to relocate to another planting
area and check him out there.
AC: is there anything else around here?
IH: there might be.
AC: so would you just sit here and run thru all the frequencies that you have out?
IH: not all of them, because I know that some of the females which are located
half a mile away never come into this area, so I wouldn't bother. But certainly all of the
males I will check out.
AC: so what have we got?
IH: well banjo 's not here, but ... well you know, its only banjo andjoe ... are the two ... oh, yes, there 's another female nearby. That's right.
IH: wilkania we've just seen here, behind us ... the next one is ganada. Another abo name used for a town and named by the aust koala park. She should also be within
hearing distance. So shes 1740.
1:32:40 FX: RADIO BLAST
1:32:50 IH: there she is.
IH: so even without the quelch I'm getting a directionality back more or less towards the truck. Turn up the quelch ... softer signal, but .... even more definitely in that direction. Ok so let's go for a walk. By the way, this little whole here has been made by a bandicoot. Bandicoots dig for their food, roots of trees and grasses and the insects that live on the roots. So that little hole which is now full of water because of the rain is the sign that bandicoots are active in the area.
1:33:53-1 :34:48 AMB: walking thru the woods
IH: ok that signals getting stronger now, and we've been about 50 meters. So she's not much further, and I can see the truck just thru the trees there. I'm going to turn up the quelch even more ... so we 've got a softer signal again. But I think you can hear that, it's very directional now. It's not actually near the truck, but slightly to the left. So that's the direction we'll head.
AMB: more walking thru the woods
Australia DAT# A¿I _ p_14
1 :35:53 IH: we've still got it on high quelch ... now the signal's quite a lot stronger, so
she's close. AMB: more walking thru woods, loud cicadas
1:36:56 IH: she's still in front of us, but exceptionally close now.
AMB: walking thru woods, some water squishing, machine beeping
1 :37:53 IH: now again, we've actually walked past her. Ganada. Because when I turn
the antenna back to where we've just come from the signal 's slightly stronger. AC: so it's just a matter now of looking up. IH: that's right. Fixing on that search image of a koala ... and this one's obvious.
Anyone could find this animal. AC: guess that means you've already found her. IH: yeah. Again, this one ...
AC: OH!! God. . . . ( I IH: now she's not actually slttmg on a branch, so she may have moved Just before\ 0 q~"'""': '-)
we got to her. . Y AC: golly. She's a little matted in the fur area .. . CJ: alex, wait for that. .. MW: and I want you to say she's not actually sitting on a branch, but wait for
1:39:30 IH: here's ganada, she's halfway up a tellowood, which is one of the planted species, and really one of the favorite food trees ... she's actually not sitting on a branch, she's on the main trunk, which means she could have-and she's alert-which means she probably moved as we approached. And the natural tendency of course is to move upwards, away from us. But ... she's only 14 feet above and she's just looking down on us, alert, and I don't think she's very bothered by our presence.
AC: she's not as big as patonga, is she?
IH: no, that's right. We've only had ganada since between christmas and new year when I put her out. So she's only been here three months. We released her about 400 yards down past the trunk where that temporary lake is now. And she quickly moved up into this area, and it looks like she's established a home range, which might be about an acre in size. She's really a stay-at-home. It looks like she's found a good spot, and it is a good spot, because I can see, looking around us, one two three four different good quality food trees, and a good mix of them, and I think she's saying hey, this is not a bad place, is it? So she's a young animal. Again, came from the wildlife park, and has yet to breed. So she may only be two years old. Now whether she has already been mated in the three months she's been here, I don't know. We won't know for another tlu'ee months or so. But she may not have, it may be next season before she mates for the first time. But she looks good. Nice clear eyes, clean backside, furs a little bit matted, but that's fine. Mine would be too after five inches of rain during the nighttime. So I'll just make some notes in the logbook ...
1:42:25 MW: stopping down.
1:42:30 IH: Gunnedah. (spells it)
IH: the next animal we 'll listen to is the other young female that came in at the
same time as Gunnedah. And her name is Oodinadettah. Which is an opal mining town
in south aust where everybody lives under the ground in caves cuz its so hot on the
surface. So that's oodinadettah.
IH: yeah, 1507.6.
1:43:37 FX: RADIO BEEPS
AC: I know we 're slowing you down, but what. ..
1:43:45 FX: RADIO BEEPS
AC: you're at 1505. There ya go.
AC: there there there there, yeah.
IH: ok, you hear the signal ... there's a lot of static ¿ but above the static you can hear the signal. But this time, it's a long way away. AC: a long ways off. IH: so that one we'll drive to. Maybe after lunch. Oh, let me check the book agam.
AC: see if anyone else is here?
IH: yeah. I don't think so, if banjo's not here. All the other females, denise, tilly, and sharon are in another area. So ok we 'll go for a drive.
1:44:53 NEW AMBIENCE, WALKING, TALKING ABOUT THE CAR
MW: OK we-'re stopping down at 1 :45:53.
1:46:07 MW: OK, on a hunt for banjo ... IH: banjo. Banjo's the alpha male. CJ: not denise. IH: the big boss. Boss man. Boss man koala.
1:47:15 IH: he's actually quite a long way away. So we might just go back and check the two females, so that we're not wasting effort walking up and back. I think banjo's still quite a way away, so we' ll check out denise, who should be close by. And denise is on 0967.
1 :47:45 FX: RADIO SQUAWKING AND BEEPING
IH: so this is denise.
AC: pretty strong, but hard to figure out a direction.
IH: yes, so I need some quelch. So we have three effects ... get rid of some of the background static ... soften her signal but give me much more directionality. She's right along this road.
1:48:48-1:50:00 AMB: WALKING, SOME SQUISHING
1:48:16 FX: GOOD FROG SOUND
1:50:01 IH: we should have brought the truck. AC: we gone by her? IH: no, the water's getting deeper and deeper. AC: that's her back there, yeah. IH: we have gone by her, you're right. Well, that's fortunate, cuz that water was
getting too deep for me. AC: yeah that's a very good koala.
1:50:27-1 :51:04 AMB : WALKING AND BEEPING
AC: (background) how old is she? IH: she's about ... she's middle aged, this one. Maybe.6-7 years old.
AMB: MORE WALKING, BEEPING
1:52:09 IH: OK. I found her, alex. Yeah, so she's near the top of a tellowood ... AC: oh yeah. IH: just by the road here. She has a home range I suppose of about 10 acres, so
not quite as much of a stay-at-home as gunnada, but, if she threw her collar or if her transmitter fa-ilea fOF-some-reason, I'd know exactly where to look: for her visually. I couldn't guarantee finding her, but I'd certainly know where to start looking. She's just sitting on a narrow branch, that's taking her weight, and she's hanging onto a couple of smaller branches with her front paws for support and balance, cuz there's a breeze there now, and the top of that tree's moving around quite a lot. But she's happy. And she looks fine to me. Nice clean back end around the cloacal region ... can't see her eyes from here, we'll have to go around the other side of the tree with field glasses to check that out, but she's looking good. So Ijust need the log book ... record her condition and location ... and that was denise ... and I'll fill in the details later, but her location is in quadrant J-l O.
OK so there are two other adult females in this area which we might as well listen for before we have lunch, if everybody can hang on a little longer. AC: so I would think you would have to say, professor hume, that the presence of radio expeditions has resorted in an extraordinarily speedy locating of these animals.
IH: well look at that, we 've located one two three four five six animals out of the
nine, and its only 12:30.
AC: perhaps record time.
IH: uh ... no ... no ... (laffs)
1:55:32 fX: RADIO SQUAWKING AND BEEPING
1:55:52 IH: passed a beat this time ... different animal. .. and this is tilly, another adult female about the same age. In fact she came in about the same time as wilkenia. And they've stuck together pretty well in this large overlap in their home ranges.
AC: it seems a little faint, maybe ...
IH: yeah, she could be over near the main road we drove in on, so we'll take the vehicle around to track her down. And I'll check sharon, and I'll check sharon, she's the other adult female that hangs around this area .. .
IH: uh huh.
1:56:49 FX: RADIO SQUAWKING, BEEPING
1:57:08 IH: so this is sharon on air. .. and there is no directionality, even with quelch, which means she could be close by.
1:57:39 IH: ok, let's head off in this direction, got a good strong signal.
1:58:03 CJ: I'd really like to know what that curious knocking sound is. IH: that's one of the local frogs. Yep.
1:58:14 FX: FROGS KNOCKING
1:58:14-2:00: 11 AMB : FROGS
2:00:25-2:01 :08 FX: CAR DRIVES BY
2:01:16 END OF DAT