Summer Birds on Farms survey

You probably know that every three months I carry out bird surveys at a mate’s property in the Strathbogie ranges. The latest one was last weekend, and was the summer survey.

Birdlife Australia has been running its birds on farms data gathering project for a few years now. The idea is twofold. 

First, it encourages farmers and other rural people to become citizen scientists. This not only generates data for the project, but also educates the observers so they have a better understanding of the way birds interact with the farmed environment. 

This aspect is of benefit to agriculture, as birds are often a good indicator of the health of the local environment. Knowing about the condition of the land can help land managers have healthier and more productive farms.

Of course, the second benefit of the project is the generation of data over time. Understanding how bird numbers and diversity changes with weather conditions as well as time of year helps conserve the most critical habitat. It also provides an early warning for population changes.

Last weekend was warm, which isn’t unusual, but it was also humid. The farm is a hardwood plantation, and is on steeply sloping ground. Doing the surveys was hard work. We used a 4WD to get close to the survey points and then walked the last few hundred metres.

The birds were nearly as diverse and numerous as in the Spring surveys, and the added bonus was a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles doing a display flight. It’s a pity I didn’t have my camera for that one. The number of Whistlers (both Golden and Rufous) were down as well, and I suspect the Rufous Whistlers may have moved on. Golden Whistlers are resident for the whole year, I think. 

I didn’t see or hear a single Yellow-faced Honeyeater. I’m really not sure why, but I assume we'll see them in the next survey. They’re pretty much the dominant honeyeater there for most of the year.