A few old trees make all the difference when you’re doing a bird survey.  The bare, newly planted paddocks on Carkella and Adnamira were limited to a few species, mainly parrots (galahs,red-rumps, rosellas) and a small family of magpies.

Red-rumped parrot photo by Leo from iNaturalist.org
Red-rumped parrot photo by Leo from iNaturalist.org

Magpie pair
Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) photo from wildlife cameras in 2015

On a grey morning in April three ornithologists from Canberra Ornithologists Group (Sue Lashko, Chris Davey and Sandra Henderson) prowled the large Carkella plantation looking hopefully for quail or other more interesting things.COG survey Sue Lashko Chris Davey Carkella large

“It’s better in the spring”  Sue told me “You hear a lot of birds calling in the mating season that you don’t hear in the autumn.  At this time of year, it’s a bit all or nothing.”

They had a lot of nothing in the open grassy areas until we reached the highest Adnamira plot, just down the hill from Carkella, where there were three or four scruffy looking red stringybarks (eucalyptus macrorhyncha) and a Blakely’s red gum.  Suddenly there was a whirring of wings and dozens of small birds (thornbills, pardalotes, honeyeaters, whistlers and more) all around.  Many were feeding on the ground, but staying close to the protection of the trees.

Yellow-rumped thornbill photo by Tom Tarrant from iNaturalist.org
Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) photo by Tom Tarrant from iNaturalist.org
White plumed honeyeater photo by David Cook from iNaturalist.org
White plumed Honeyeater photo by David Cook from iNaturalist.org

That fits with the research showing that many species of small birds won’t go far out into bare paddocks, probably because of the danger from predators like hawks and eagles.  This survey was done as a baseline so that we can compare the results in five, ten, or more years and see what difference the new plantations will make.

COG Survey Adnamira 4 4 Sue Lashko
Sue Lashko, Adnamira 4

“It’s a feeding flock” explained Chris Davey “That’s what they do at this time of year.  You’ll often see big groups of different species all moving around together.  It’s partly to do with the scarcity of food.”Walking down the hill 1

We had the same situation in the 3 smaller plantings as we moved down the hill towards the river – very few birds out in the open paddocks.Finally at the WOPR paddock planted by Greening Australia, there were also some big remnant trees, as well as several stands of river tea-tree.  Suddenly once again there was a flurry of action and dozens of different species all moving around those trees.

Restless flycatcher photo by Fir0002 Flagstaffotos
Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta) photo by Fir0002 from iNaturalist.org
whole paddock with combine 2014
Three trees in a paddock (before the planting)

Chris DaveyThe team saw 78 birds and 45 different species.  It was a satisfying morning for me, and I hope for Sue, Chris and Sandra. Now Adnamira has its own baseline bird survey to
compare to the springtime one done on Esdale in 2014 .  To make them comparable, each survey will have to be re-done at the same time of year.   I’m looking forward to it.  I might even remember to bring my own binoculars and charge up my camera.

Better than any photos I could take – Natural Newstead has stunning images and information about feeding flocks.

Below is the list collected by this survey.

April 16 2016 Carkella large Carkella small Adamira 3 Adamira 4 Adamira 2 Adamira 1 GA site Adamira – other
Pacific Black Duck 2
Crested Pigeon 2
Little Pied Cormorant 1
White-faced Heron 1
Brown Falcon 1
Galah 4 2 24
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo 23
Crimson Rosella 4 4 9 5
Eastern Rosella 2 1 6 5
Red-rumped Parrot 18 5
White-throated Treecreeper 1 1
Superb Fairy-wren 9 3
White-browed Scrubwren 6
Yellow-rumped Thornbill 6 16 7
Buff-rumped Thornbill 2
Brown Thornbill 8
Southern Whiteface 1
Spotted Pardalote 2
Striated Pardalote 2 9 8
Eastern Spinebill 2
Yellow-faced Honeyeater 1 6
White-plumed Honeyeater 6 7 4
Brown-headed Honeyeater 4
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike 3
Golden Whistler 2
Rufous Whistler 1 1
Grey Shrike-thrush 1 1
Dusky Woodswallow 15
Grey Butcherbird 1 2
Australian Magpie 3 3 4
Grey Fantail 4 1
Willie Wagtail 4 1
Australian Raven 4
Restless Flycatcher 1
Magpie-lark 1
Scarlet Robin 1 1
Flame Robin 4
Silvereye 4 12
Welcome Swallow 3 10 1
Tree Martin 6
Common Starling 3 25
Mistletoebird 1 1
Red-browed Finch 9
House Sparrow 2 1 8
Australasian Pipit 1
No of species 4 0 0 15 0 0 28 31
2016 total = 45 species


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