Sunday, January 19, 2014

SOUTH BURNETT BIRDING 2013: A REVIEW


LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
Well, that at least would be the standard opener for a real estate salesperson.  No doubt the average bird out there in Nature World would also be interested in the location of its home.  This brief survey however deals with more humble matters – the number of locations Fay and I monitored throughout the South Burnett during 2013.
In a nutshell, with 44 different locations visited, 2013 romped in, achieving a new annual total, out-doing the previous high of 41 in 2012 which in itself toppled the earlier 38 jointly held by 2009 and 2010.  Further, with a tally of 200 species, 2013 easily overtook the former record of 183 species recorded in 2009.

Annual Location/Species Tally

YEAR

No of Sites

Species

Pre residency

1990

2

36

1991

2

89

1992

x

x

1993

1

40

1994

1

42

1995

2

47

1996

2

431

1997

x

x

1998

1

46

Post residency  

2001

12

94

2002

3

109

2003

5

114

2004

12

95

2005

2

88

20063

11

110

2007

17

162

2008

12

127

2009

38

183

2010

38

175

2011

34

172

2012

41

179

2013

44

200
1                     Included the Black-breasted Button-quail
2                     Allen Road only
3                     The year we moved to the region permanently
In monthly terms, August and November took out the record with 126 species recorded in each of those two months; December [124 species] was snapping at their heels while February [120 species] was the only other month in which Fay and I recorded 120 or more species in the South Burnett region.  Conversely, June [89 species] was the only month in which we recorded fewer than one hundred species.

2013 Monthly Records

Month

Sites

Tally

January

14

116

February

13

120

March

18

115

April

16

115

May

21

114

June

12

89

July

17

119

August

18

126

September

14

110

October

16

111

November

17

126

December

14

124
 
2013 was also a year of locations in other aspects.  We “discovered” and/or created seven new locations: Oil Seed Road in January; the Booie Road Circuit and Runnymede Road in May; the Smith Hodsleigh Circuit in June; David Road and the Mudlo National Park [stretching geographical boundaries to the limits] in August and Din Din Road in November.
Obviously each and every one of the 44 locations contributed towards the final 2013 Year List, whether we visited only once [e.g. East Grindstone Circuit, Mondure Creek Curcuit, Pioneer Park, etc.], a couple of times [e.g. Brooklands Water Reserve, Bunya Mountains National Park, Gordonbrook Dam, etc.] a little more frequently [e.g. Lake Barambah on six occasions, Meandu Creek on nine occasions, Nanango Fauna Sanctuary on 15 occasions, etc.] or in excess of twenty times [e.g. the Tarong Power Station complex on 38 occasions, Berlin Road on 32 occasions or Blackbutt on 23 occasions].  No location received more attention than the 196 visits to Blackbutt State School.
A number of the one-offs during the year produced some spectacular birds.  The Broadwater Camping Reserve gave us a pair of Cotton Pygmy-Geese Nettapus coromandelianus swimming along Barkers Creek seemingly oblivious to our presence.
 
East Grindstone [only our second circuit since creating it in January 2009] gave us magic views of the Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus: my notes at the time read “Appeared from side of road, flew along ahead of us and perched in tree a few metres away before disappearing again”.  East Nanango and Gibson State Forest [the first visit in almost a year] offered us our first and second South Burnett records of Australian Raven Corvu coronoides for 2013.  The Horsfield’s Bushlark Mirafra javanica along the Kooralgin-Gilla Road in February almost cost us dearly as the Forester started to slide and slither along a patch of soft mod; it took all of my meagre 4-wheel driving skills to pull us out of that predicament.
 
Gordonbrook Dam may have only featured twice in our 2013 outings but it clearly punched above its weight on both occasions. In January we came away with a tally of 38 species, including Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata, Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus and Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia [an unusual sighting for so far inland]. On our return in August we scored 55 species including Freckled Duck Stictonetta naevosa; White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus; and Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus, which we initially noted as two adults perched together in a tree on far side of Dam [from car park…later observed a pair of juveniles perched in tree alongside walking track.  Assumed to be offspring of original adults.
Tarong National Park excelled itself on the last day of the year.  Back in May it had produced a respectable tally of 37 species, including three of the thornbills – Yellow Acanthiza nana, Yellow-rumped A. chrysorrhoa and Brown Thornbill A. pusilla.  In December it came up with a tally of 59 species, including both Green Catbird Ailuroedus crassirostris and Regent Bowerbird Sericulus chrysocephalus and a Satin Flycatcher Myiagra cyanoleuca.
Five visits to the Rocky Creek Circuit produced 52 species; six visits to Lake Barambah, particularly the arm accessible from the Bunya Highway, provided 56 species; a similar number of calls on the Cooling Water Dam [Tarong Power Station complex] provided us with a tally of 62 species.
More visits did not necessarily equate to larger tallies.  Fifteen surveys of Nanango Fauna Sanctuary brought us only 60 species; 22 surveys of Blackbutt brought an even humbler tally of 22 species!  However, the location with the most pronounced anomaly between number of visits and Year List contribution must rest with my former school [although at the time of writing I remain technically employed by Education Queensland] which with 196 surveys throughout 2013 ended the year with a meagre tally of 48 species – an average of 4.08 species per visit.
But birding is above and beyond humble numbers; at least of the 2013 Year 4 cohort may take away with them a love for bird watching, it was after all what “Mr B” did when on playground duty. 
 
2013 was a harsh year academically but with weekends to use up we managed a reasonable show.
Hopefully 2014 will bring brighter times.
 
 



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