Bird monitoring project

NTVLC conducted a Citizen Science workshop in October 2018, with an associated extra day workshop on Bird Monitoring funded by a Community Skills Development Grant from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.  As a result of this training the group decided to undertake a bird monitoring project in the Black Spur Creek wetlands area. 

The Black Spur Creek wetlands and associated area, is a 40Ha publicly owned (but managed by multiple stakeholders) area that includes the ex-railway easement – now a rail trail, the wetlands at the confluence of the Tarwin River and Blackspur Creek, some remnant Strzelecki gum forest, a new roadway being built by Major Roads Victoria as part of a South Gippsland Highway realignment and grazing land that is privately leased.

We have been looking at ways we can conduct bird surveys that will help us understand if the considerable changes the area is going to be subject to over the next ten years and beyond has had an impact (hopefully for the better) on the wildlife.  Using birds as signal animals we should be able to assess the impact of the road works and the associated offsets and habitat management programs. An associated benefit of monitoring birds is that there is considerable local interest in bird watching and it is an activity that rail trail users are already undertaking, albeit informally.  There is also a method for record keeping via the Birdlife Australia survey app which will make our observations useful and available for others to access.

As the rail trail is the means of access to the area, it seems sensible to conduct our surveys along a select length of the track.

The group has had many meetings and discussion about where best to monitor.  There are three historic railway bridges that have been restored and rebuilt to allow the rail trial to cross the Black Spur Creek, and the Tarwin River (twice) in the project area.  The distance between the first and last posts of the bridges is 650 metres.  This length of rail trail can be effectively monitored in 20 minutes. It is also a great habitat for our observations as it has good sightlines over the Black Spur Creek wetlands and the Tarwin River flood plain.

The terrain that is observable from this route varies from wetland to riparian forest and open grazing besides the river.  By undertaking regular Fixed Route Monitoring as per survey techniques -

Fixed-Route Monitoring
This method allows you to conduct repeat surveys at your favourite birding spot. It doesn’t matter where it is —your local park, a wetland, a patch of forest or a paddock. All you have to do is register your survey site, establish a birdwatching route through it and count the birds that you see along the way

It’s easy, but there are a few simple rules to keep your surveys consistent:

  • Make sure you keep to the same route on each survey (it can be as long as you like)
  • Conduct your surveys at the same time of day
  • Take the same amount of time to do each survey
  • Ideally, conduct your surveys once a month’

Whilst we understand this method is not the Birdlife Australia preferred method it has a number of advantages

  • It is easy to describe the monitoring route, and as we are hoping that members of the public will undertake surveys and add to our data; this is important
  • All of the birds we saw in the other areas of the project site were noted between the bridges
  • One monitoring site is achievable over a large period of time, any more may stretch our resources

Bird Monitoring dates

Everyone is welcome to join our 20 minute (plus return) bird monitoring walk. Meet at 5pm at the Koonwarra Recreation Reserve on the 3rd Tuesday of the month. If you have them, bring your binoculars, camera, smartphone with the the Birdata app installed and appropriate clothing, water, sunscreen etc.
This is a kid friendly activity and is suitable for people with excellent bird knowledge or none. Everyone welcome. If you cannot make our Tuesday outings, you are encouraged to take part independently.  We are hoping to get a shared monitoring site on Birdata, but until then, just log your sightings on the app.

Monitoring dates in 2019:
Tuesday 15th January
Tuesday 19th February
Tuesday 19th March
Tuesday 16th April
Tuesday 21st May
Tuesday 18th June
Tuesday 16th July
Tuesday 20th August
Tuesday 17th September
Tuesday 15th October
Tuesday 19th November
Tuesday 17th December

The Fairy Wren Project

Do you see fairywrens? The Fairy Wren Project is looking for citizen scientist partners across Australia to help them collect observations of fairywrens and their plumages. Whether you're a serious twitcher or enjoy seeing fairywrens in your garden, your observations help!

Contributing to the Fairywren Project is easy! You can become a citizen scientist by submitting sightings of fairywrens through eBird, a widely-used and easily accessible online birding platform. When you submit your sightings, include a little bit of extra information in the species comments about what you saw and together we can better understand these intriguing birds.

Useful links and apps

Some blogs you may find interesting... This blog mostly contains notes and photos of birds and bird behaviour observed and photographed in John Hutchison's backyard patch, East Gippsland, and on birding journeys around Australia. Newstead; Observations of flora, fauna and landscape in central Victoria

Apps available on the Google Play store. (suggestions only)

Apps available on the Apple app store. (suggestions only)