Impressions of Burrin Burrin Reserve

Monday 20 June, 2005
Sunny brittle gum Eucalyptus mannifera forests. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

Sunny brittle gum Eucalyptus mannifera forests. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

In June 2003 photographer Wayne Lawler spent several days at Burrin Burrin Reserve.

Burrin Burrin is mountain country. Its tall mist-shrouded vaults of ribbon gum and brown barrel resonate with the lilting calls of the superb lyrebird by day.

At night, when the greater gliders leap between the straight pillars of this monastic forest, the accompaniment changes to the haunting ‘woo-w-woo’ of the powerful owl.

This bird must be the terror of the forest. Even to me, sitting ten metres from its roost tree, binoculars to my eyes, its yellow-eyed stare and massive talons are intimidating. It must be the living nightmare of every possum.

Sugar glider. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

Sugar glider by Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

Yet the gliding possums of Burrin Burrin are abundant. The large greater glider hits the tree trunk with such a slap at the end of its glide that the impact sends shock waves through the forest.

The little sugar glider is more discreet but its dog-like yelps carry, warning all that an owl is about.

Burrin Burrin drops from the high Gourak Range to wild, steeply gullied foothills in the east. Here, the tall forests change to sunnier open forests of silver-top ash and woodlands of brittle gum with an understorey of Banksia, wattle and heath.

Powerful owl. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

Powerful owl by Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

I sat quietly in the sun in the open forest one morning and was treated to the mimicry and dance of a lyrebird just a couple of metres away.

I counted 18 different bird calls in its repertoire, including those of summer migrants not then present.

The lyrebird was providing a more complete bird list than my own!

At times, just after dark, a lyrebird gives a sweet, tentative last song in combination with the powerful owl’s first evocative base notes.

It's a surreal mixture of sounds that I will always associate with the deep forests of Burrin Burrin.

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