Wildlife of KCNP: Where to find it and how to protect it
With the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park Plan of Management up for review (to comment, visit: https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/ku-ring-gai-chase-national-park-consultation ) I thought it’d be important for local residents and stakeholders to know exactly why KCNP is so important from a faunal point of view. Recently, I gave a lecture to a booked out crowd of 90 people, on the Wildlife of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park however if you couldn’t make it to that lecture or would like a refresher, the information below will help you gain a greater understanding of the importance of Ku-ring-gai Chase NP.
At 14,997 hectares in size Ku-ring-gai Chase NP acts as a refuge away from most human disturbance, allowing wildlife to persist uninfluenced by growing human pressures. The large size of the National Park means that there are patches of land that are unexplored by humans. Conversely, the West Head and Bobbin Head sections of the National Park are easily accessible and allow visitors to interact and reconnect with nature, something that I believe to be crucial if we plan on tackling Climate Change and other key environmental issues.
Birds are by far the most commonly seen class of animals within the National Park and indeed within our daily lives. Birds are so abundant and diverse meaning that per hour of searching you will sight more species than any other terrestrial class. This diversity is extremely evident within Ku-ring-gai Chase and it only takes a walk down Chiltern Trail or along the creek at Gibberagong Track to realise this. Commonly encountered families include Honeyeaters, Insectivores, Birds of Prey and Parrots.
|Key Birds Species of KCNP||Where to find them|
|Glossy Black Cockatoo||Commonly encountered Vulnerable species often seen at McCarrs Creek Reserve or any trail along West Head Road. Feed on Allocasuarina and Casuarina species.|
|White Throated Nightjar||Nocturnal species found in low abundance all throughout the National Park in the spring/summer months. Loud, distinctive call|
|Swift Parrot||Critically Endangered winter migrant. Occasionally visits the National Park near West Head lookout and Chiltern Trail|
|Yellow-Tufted Honeyeater||Rare in Sydney found at Chiltern Trail and Bobbin Head.|
|Chestnut-Rumped Heathwren||All trails throughout the National Park. Secretive bird often heard during their breeding season but less frequently seen.|
|Rockwarbler||Only bird which is endemic to NSW. Found anywhere there is Sandstone. Try Waratah Track and West Head lookout but present throughout.|
|Square-Tailed Kite||Vulnerable bird of prey becoming increasingly abundant. Look for this species at Waratah or Elvina Track.|
Mammals are by far the most infrequently encountered Class by the general public. This is predominantly due to the nocturnal habits of most mammals as well as they’re general secrecy. Within KCNP there are several very rare and threatened mammal species and some of my best finds have been of the mammalian variety. In order to find these interesting animals I encourage you to spotlight – i.e. go out at night with a torch to look for these nocturnal mammals. All up, 42 Terrestrial Mammals have been recorded in the NP. Ku-ring-gai Chase NP’s claim to fame is that the New Holland Mouse was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1967, in Ku-ring-gai Chase NP!
|Jayden Walsh’s Best Mammal Finds in KCNP||Info|
|Common Dunnart||1st record for Northern Beaches. ~10th Record for Sydney. 1 individual crossing West Head Rd near Duckholes Picnic Ground on December 11th 2015.|
|Yellow Footed Antechinus||1st record for Northern Beaches. 1 in May 2015 at Chiltern Trail on sandstone ledge warming up during early morning.|
|New Holland Mouse||Vulnerable Species: 1st record in Northern Sydney in 13 years. 1 found roadkill in late 2016, 1 seen in early 2017 and 1 seen 2 weeks later.|
|Southern Brown Bandicoot||Endangered Species: 1 seen in May 2015 at Chiltern Trail and 1 found dead at Waratah Track in late 2015|
KCNP is one of the best spots to see reptiles in all of Sydney however as discussed in my lecture, reptiles have a very bad, undeserved reputation. Unfortunately reptiles are the class most commonly found as roadkill within the National Park accounting for over 80% of total fatalities. In order to reduce the level of roadkill actions must be implemented immediately such as the installation of speedbumps. 44 species of reptile call the National Park home including 13 species of snake and the Threatened Rosenberg’s Goanna. Over the past 2 years I’ve seen all the species listed below plus many more.
- Southern Death Adder
- Bandy Bandy
- Tiger Snake
- Cunningham’s Skink
- Elegant Snake-Eyed Skink
- Common Scaly Foot
- Rosenberg’s Goanna
- Eastern Stone Gecko
- Lace Monitor
- Burton’s Legless Lizard
- Diamond Python
- Brown Tree Snake
- White’ Skink
- Eastern Brown Snake
- Yellow Faced Whipsnake
- Red-Throated Skink
- Weasel Skink
13 species of Amphibian reside within the NP however there is the possibility that 4 other species occur. Amphibians are a species that is mainly seen at night time, so again, I would encourage you to spotlight in order to see them. Try McCarrs Creek near Duckholes picnic area for species such as Striped Marsh Frog, Common Eastern Froglet, Green Stream Frog and Eastern Sedge Frog.
Two other amphibian highlights of the national park are the Vulnerable Giant Burrowing Frog and Red-Crowned Toadlet.
- Giant Burrowing Frog: lives on ridge tops where there are deep beds of sand and sandstone. Spring and autumn breeder. Sometimes referred to as the Eastern Owl Frog due to it’s hooting call. Widespread on the West Head landmass. My highest count of Giant Burrowing Frog’s in one night was 26 individuals!
- Red-Crowned Toadlet: tends to live on the side of Sandstone escarpments and under leaf-litter where there is moisture year round. Like other pseudophryne species they make a nest of eggs with tadpoles that complete part of their development in this egg, once rain arrives they then complete the rest of their development in a puddle/body of water. The Red-Crowned Toadlet has a fascinating call that sounds a bit like a baby crocodile!
ISSUES WITHIN THE NP
|Lack of Funding for NPWS||Automate both the gate closure at West Head Rd and all ticket offices|
|Lack of Funding for NPWS + Community Engagement||Run guided wildlife tours within the NP that are low impact and educational|
|Roadkill||Installation of regular speedbumps to control speed of vehicles throughout the NP|
|Roadkill||Close West Head Rd gate 30 minutes earlier all year round to reduce risk of roadkill (predominantly occurs at dusk and night-time)|
|Lack of current information regarding Threatened Species within the NP||Contract local, skilled ecologists/Naturalists to conduct regular fauna surveys within the NP|
|Community Engagement||Install additional interpretive signage regarding wildlife of KCNP and install additional seating|
|Possible Development||I strongly object to any development within the NP.|
In conclusion, I strongly recommend that you comment upon the Plan of Management in order to protect the Wildlife of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It is imperative to the long-term survival of the NP that the wildlife is the key concern of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and all management decisions must revolve around the protection, preservation and restoration of the wildlife and its habitat. Your voice has the power to determine the fate of our bushland. Finally, I urge you to go out and visit Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, to discover for yourself just how amazing it is!
If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org