A soccer ball in a Yellow Gum?

How many readers have seen a Koala close to Newstead, or further afield in the box-ironbark country? My memory is not great, but in more than 25 years in the district I can recall only a handful of sightings. The following observation from Chris Johnston and Ross Lumsden is extremely noteworthy.

Walking down Dunns Reef Track this morning (1/12), up near the Red, White and Blue Mine in the Muckleford Forest, a squabbling group of choughs high up in a tall Yellow Gum drew our attention.  Perhaps a nest? Unusual to see choughs squabbling in the tree tops – usually it over some tasty morsel on the ground. Through the binoculars, a pale grey soccer ball shape was visible on a nearby branch – not a nest but what was it? Sort of looked like a very large paper wasps ball. Walking over to the tree, looking up – it was a koala. We were both so excited. After years of walking in the Muckleford Forest, it was the first koala we’d seen in the forest – thanks to the choughs who were pretty upset to have a large intruder in their tree.

That's the Koala ... the grey budle near top left.

That’s the Koala … the grey bundle near top left.

I paid a visit to the site later in the day and sure enough the Koala was still there in the same tree, one of a few tall trees scattered in a recently harvested firewood collection area.

Koala, Dunns Reef Track Muckleford State Forest, 1st December 2012

Koala, Dunns Reef Track in the Muckleford State Forest, 1st December 2012

The habitat at the site, showing the recently thinned firewood zone.

The habitat at the site, showing the recently thinned firewood zone.

The Koala Phascolarctos cinereus is widespread but scattered throughout the goldfields and usually found in areas adjoining moist foothill forests. It’s always terrific to hear of sightings such as that made by Chris and Ross.

It would be great to learn of other local obseravtions of this remarkable animal.

It would be great to learn of other local observations of this remarkable animal.

15 responses to “A soccer ball in a Yellow Gum?

  1. We saw one at tunnel hill Chewton, it was on the side of the road, just after midnight about 4 weeks ago. First one I have ever seen in the wild.

  2. Can’t report any Koalas but I did wake up to an unexpected foothill forest bird at Strangways in mid November – 7:00am on the 14th – a very bright rufous tail fanning in the Golden Wattle just outside the house and brilliantly catching the early morning sun. I’ve seen Rufous Fantails passing through the Melbourne suburbs on spring/autumn migrations but was very surprised to see this so late in spring and in a warm November here?

    • Thanks Kate – thats a terrific record. I’ve never seen one close to Newstead, my closest local encounters are from around Daylesford. Do you mind if we add this record to the Community Web Mapper?
      All the best, Geoff

      • Kate Sandiford

        Please do, or I could add it myself (once I remember my login!)

      • Kate Sandiford

        Geoff, I’ve added the fantail record to the Community Web Mapper. But I’m wondering what the role of the mapper is now – it seems to have faded from ‘view’ – not been mentioned much here or at Connecting Country. What is the current focus?.

      • That’s great Kate – the mapper is still alive and well and we are looking at making some enhancements to it over the next few months. There are lots of applications in this space now including the Atlas of Living Australia which is a mega-project. Stay tuned.

        Cheers, geoff

  3. This (and other sitings) could be reported to Koala Tracker:

    Data from here is used by gov agencies for species mapping and conservation planning.

  4. There was a koala sighting (and photo) up in the Chewton Bushlands back on February 24th, 2012.

  5. Peter & Lilian Skilbeck

    Hi Geoff.
    Over the years I have observed many koalas in the area Most usually located by observing scats on the ground below the trees or from hearing the pig like grunting noises omitted by the males in the evenings.

    Spotings have been. on top of Tarrengower in a yellow box several times.

    Butts reserve camping area in red gums

    Rodborough Rd near Hall Rd in grey box

    Plaistow in red gums same tree for over one year

    Plaistow in peppercorns for several days actually seen eating.

    Heard in red gums up stream from Plaistow but not located many times

    I would agree that they are not rare in this area but are also not common.

    Peter s


    • Hi Peter, great to hear of these records. It shows again the value of long-term local knowledge in recording our natural history. Many thansk for passing this information on.
      All the best, geoff

  6. I spotted a koala high up in a Long-leaf Box at Strangways this morning, a first for our place. I’d just picked up the remains of a bird’s egg (white, semigloss, 35-40 x 25mm) and was looking up for nests. Interesting how most of these koala records are in summer.

    • Yes, that’s an interesting observation Kate re the summer Koala records. I have no explanation but will look into it.
      All the best, geoff

  7. Well, we came home late this evening, and while shutting the gate, heard a strange growl from above. And with just enough light from the headlights we could make out a koala about 6 metres up in a grey box. A first sighting for our property!

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