We could not have asked for a more perfect day for our Koala survey as far as the weather was concerned. It was sunny, cool and with no wind.
We met at Aireys Inlet Hall at 9.30. Sixteen adults and four young children arrived and after introductions we drove to Kennett River where we stopped for morning tea. Along the way some of the group paused on the side of the road when they saw a White-bellied Sea Eagle flying overhead. After morning tea we drove to the starting point just inside the National Park boundary and began our walk at 11.00 am.
Our survey team for 2017
After a short while it became evident that there were fewer koalas. Even allowing for those we miss, the numbers were down on previous years.
Aaron, from Parks Victoria, who, with his daughter, Etta, joined us at Kennett River, suggested that some of the koalas may have moved further down the hill towards Wye River to feed on the tender new leaves which have regenerated since the bushfires in December 2015.
By the time we reached the turnoff, our tally numbered 30 koalas. Along the road, some of the walkers caught sight of a Wedge tailed Eagle as it flew high above the forest.
Survey team in action on Grey River Road
After the lunch break which we spent on the ridge overlooking Grey River settlement and the ocean, we walked back along the powerline clearing.
The koalas were definitely harder to see in the dense foliage of the trees along the coast side and on our return we saw a further 18.
We felt that the majority of those counted throughout the day were males. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for this, however on the very last section of our walk, a mother koala and her very young joey were spotted resting in a fork midway up a tree. After a while she moved higher holding the baby securely to her chest.
Our total number of koalas was 48.
However it was a very pleasant day for everyone, and Etta, Ollie, Hugh, James and William also appeared to have a great time and very much enjoyed their koala experience.
Photos by Margaret MacDonald