I know its been a long time between posts – same issues as last time with a post Covid funk and lack of motivation. I thought I would share a few of encounters with some smaller terrestrial mammals in Victoria over the past 6 months or so.
The first is Southern Brown Bandicoot at the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens. This has to be the easiest place to see this declining species with them sauntering around the picnic areas and the enclosed garden area. I have distinct memories of seeing them as a child near home in Frankston but unfortunately all that area is houses now. Cranbourne Botanic Gardens is a nice oasis in an area of increasing urban sprawl. Away from Cranbourne I find they are still reasonably common around Bayles in West Gippsland with an evening drive around the various back lanes usually getting a sighting or two. They have declined significantly elsewhere in Victoria.
Two years ago I was successful in finding Long-footed Potoroos in North-East Victoria but I was yet to see the supposedly more common cousin, the Long-nosed Potoroo on the mainland (have seen in Tasmania). I decided to remedy this so tried a couple of spots in East Gippsland and was successful at the second site. Thermal scope was a game changer allowing me to pick them up easily even in thick cover. They are a charismatic little species and noticably smaller than the Long-footed Potoroo. This area is covered by the Southern Ark fox control area which is the largest wildlife protection project in Victoria. The success of this project has been shown with numerous camera trap records of both species of potoroo and both local species of bandicoot. I was very happy with my encounters with the Long-nosed Potoroos and was even able to take my son back a month or so later to see his first ones.
Eastern-barred Bandicoots used to be found in Western Victoria on the Volcanic Plains and nearly became extinct on the mainland with a few stragglers taken into captivity and bred up. Recently they have been released on Phillip Island and have apparently been doing very well. While they never historically occurred here the heavily modified farm habitat now seems perfect for them. My sister lives there and had commented that she had seen them many times so I went out for a night walk. We found many bandicoots (~20 or so) and I was able to get a few nice pictures. I understand further introductions of endangered species are planned for the island as it has been considered fox free for a number of years. Looking forward to seeing how things go over the next 10-20 years.
A common theme with all three of these species in Victoria is strong fox control! Long may it continue.