Tag Archives: bird watching

Back Yard Bird Count in Katherine

The Aussie Backyard Bird count is 23- 29th October this year.

We will be hosting a guided bird watching walk and talk on a very large Land for Wildlife property in Katherine this year. Mick Jerram, local tour guide and manager of the land will be guiding the walk.

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Photograph courtesy of Top End Tourism.

Join Mick Jerram of Gecko canoeing on a beautiful Land for Wildlife property for a bird watching walk with one of Katherine’s most experienced wildlife tour guides. Find out more about birds in the Katherine region the Land for Wildlife program. This is part of Aussie Backyard Bird Count (https://aussiebirdcount.org.au/) And YES Gouldian finches have been recorded on the property- you never know!

Directions- Drive towards Nitmiluk Gorge from the stuart highway. 20.3 kms on the right there is a small turn off which will be marked. Map and further directions to be added. PLease park opposite Maude Creek Lodge.

Please bring water, hat and boots/ good foot wear and binoculars. Share cars if possible and tell your friends. The walk is 1 km.

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Mick Jerram on the Land for Wildlife property.

For more information email elupin@greeningaustralia.org.au

And look at all the other events that you can get involved in that weekend –

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A Brilliant Bird Week

Bird week is such a great way to show case our feathered friends that are so abundant in the Top End; we put together a couple of small events for members and friends of Land for Wildlife, back in October. A hot and in one case wet time of year, we still had a great group of people along at both events.

The best things always come with collaboration and a guided walk of Fogg Dam was hosted for Land for Wildlife members and friends of in association with Parks and Wildlife at Fogg Dam. After low rainfalls last wet season the dam was at low levels, but started filling up as we were talking our guided walk- with some of the first rains of the year. We were joined by ‘Friends of Fogg Dam’ members Mary and Janis who talked about their work, the birds and take stunning photos of the birdlife.

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After a drive across the dam wall, a talk on looking after bird habitat and a good soaking we went into the very wonderful woodland walk to see what else we could spot. We ended up with a great list of wetland and woodland birds. I would love to thank Jo Scott, who helped organise the event and sadly has since left the role of Community engagement Officer at PWC.

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We held a small “Landholder’s walk and talk” with Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow who has written ‘Birds of Australia’s Top End’ and ‘Birds of Palmerston’ with her partner Michael. They have a 20 acre (8 hectare) property with some wonderful flooded Sandsheet and wet season creek areas in Darwin River. Denise tells some great stories and emphasises that watching birds is about sitting with country and watching behaviour, not just ticking them from a checklist; it is about getting to know them and their habitat.

Thanks Denise and Michael for your great contribution to wildlife education.

Bird Week events

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It’s that time of year again; next week is Bird Week and The Backyard Aussie Bird Count 17th -23rd October 2016. You can register for the bird count and become part of this great citizen science project here http://aussiebirdcount.org.au/

So let’s celebrate and get involved, especially as we are lucky enough to live in one of the most fantastic regions in Australia for bird species, bird watching and intact bird habitat. At Land for Wildlife we also and have a whole list of fantastic members in our program who manage their land to support wildlife, including our wonderful birdlife.

Land for Wildlife has organised 2 special events next week for members and friends of the program in the Darwin ‘rural’ area:

On Thursday 20th October from 5- 7pm join author of “Birds of Australia’s Top End region” and “Birds of Palmerston” on her property in Darwin River for some laid back evening bird watching. She will give an overview of bird  life in the region, bird behaviours and how best to attract birds and manage bird habitat. This will be followed by light refreshments and info on how to take part in the bird count.  RSVP (elupin@greeningaustralia.org.au) for directions.

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On Saturday 22nd October from 8- 10am join Parks staff and friends of Fogg Dam at Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve for some morning bird watching, an introduction to bird species and habitats in the rural area. This event is for Land for Wildlife members, friends of and interested others and is run in collaboration with Parks and Wildlife (please RSVP to confirm- see the poster below).

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Other great events happening in the Darwin region include

A bird watching cycling tour at East Point in Darwin on Sunday 16th October at 8am bike-tour

A whole host of Events including Bird art at CDU-

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and lots more, so take this great opportunity to learn more about our bird life.

Our Rainbow Pitta

The Rainbow Pitta. (Pitta iris)

Photographs by Land for Wildlife Member Jacinda Brown

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So It’s more than half way through Bird Week and we thought we would profile a favourite bird. We chose The Rainbow Pitta.

Why? It is a beautiful bird with great colouring and only found in The Top End of The Territory and Kimberley regions. It depends completely on Monsoon forest, which in these regions are restricted to very small patches where springs occur, or by rivers. It is the only Pitta in Australia that does not occur also in Asia and New Guinea.

This little bird is territorial, it often stays alone or in a pair in the same patch of forest year after year and its food source is mainly earthworms. Earthworms are more plentiful in the wet season when the Pitta breeds, laying its eggs between October and February in a domed shaped nest with a side entrance; these are usually built in the fork of a tree, about 5 metres above the ground.

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Although many patches of Monsoon forest have been cleared or reduced by grassy fires and weeds, many gardens in the suburbs and around houses in the rural area simulate damp forests and often are home to the Pitta, who can be seen foraging for worms on the ground.  It is important to manage any rainforest patches and manage weeds and fires to keep the habitat for many wildlife species, including these delicate birds.  

Information is from Birds of The Darwin region by McCrie and Noske and A Natural Field Guide to Australia’s Top End, by Ian Morris, Di Lucas, Noel Preece and Penny van Oosterzee.

Landholder’s walk and talk- Habitat for Birds at Darwin River

It is Bird week– A celebration of Australian birds! We are very privileged in The Top End to have some fantastic bird species and relative to elsewhere in Australia some very intact bird habitat. It is of great importance that areas are managed for wildlife, including the properties in our program.

Land for Wildlife hosted two events. Also see our “Intro to Bird spotting” article with some tips

Our second event was on Sunday-

On Sunday Andrew Spiers kindly hosted a “Landholder’s Walk and Talk” with a focus on birds. As well as being a Land for Wildlife member Andrew also teaches Conservation Land Management at Charles Darwin University and has some extensive knowledge about our landscapes and birds. The walk and talk was at his wonderful Darwin River property that is on 200 hectares, with 18 interested others from Land for Wildlife and friends of.

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We looked at many different keys to birds and leant about observing landscapes over time. We had a great dusk walk across the flood plain to the Darwin River and learnt of the grand effects of fire on birds as well as many other interesting observations across the landscape, including termite activity, the interaction of wildlife, plants as food sources and river flows.

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Andrew walks

Fire can be a devastating factor for birds as it destroys the flowers and or fruit and in many cases the whole plant and its able to flower or fruit completely, or for a year or more depending on intensity. These flowers or fruit are very often the food source for many bird species. Andrew’s land was an example of this as some uncontrolled hot fires, that had come in from a neighbouring property had taken out hundreds, if not thousands of Grevillea pteridifolia ( The fern leaved Grevillea) which are a food source for many honey eaters and small birds. The recent fire had also knocked out many other plants and bird activity was lower than before and centred around the watered garden and the riverine vegetation.

Andrew explains

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We also learned about different ways of collecting bird data and doing bird counts and encouraged everyone to participate in the “Aussie Backyard Bird Count” for bird week, to celebrate our fantastic bird life and be part of a citizen science project. http://www.aussiebirdcount.orgLooks

Di watches

Andrew pose

Andrew was a fascinating guide and his wife, Helen very hospitable. As well as seeing their incredible native landscape we also were invited to look around their house which they have designed and built for our climate with natural cooling features.

It really is valuable to share the knowledge and experience gained when managing land (for wildlife) and a great opportunity to meet others, enjoy a new bit of country and share views. We hope this is the first in many of our “Landholder Wildlife Walks”

An introduction to Birdwatching

 

It is Bird week– A celebration of Australian birds! We are very privileged in The Top End to have some fantastic bird species and relative to elsewhere in Australia some very intact bird habitat. There are over 250 species of birds in the region. 19 bird species are endemic to the Australian monsoon tropics and 3 species that are only found in the Top End and Kimberly region. (Rainbow Pitta, Silver-backed butcher bird and Yellow rumped-mannikin) Many other species are distributed only in the tropics, and are found in parts of Indonesia, New Guinea and beyond.

64 species in the Darwin region are migratory, the majority of which migrate from the region for the dry season.

One quarter of our birds are water or wetland birds. Another quarter of the birds are either shoreline or sea birds, leaving half as terrestrial (land) birds.

Different birds occupy different habitats, but many move between habitats, depending on food sources and shelter.  Honey Eaters move between Woodland landscapes and riparian or monsoon forest habitats, depending on where nectar is.

Birds such as birds of prey, some pigeon species, parrots, cockatoos, and some honey eaters inhabit the open forests and woodlands. Other birds choose the monsoon forest as their primary habitat, such as some flycatchers, honeyeaters, fig birds, the Rainbow Bee eater and the great Bowerbird.

Below is a painting of Comb-crested Jacanas by Jasmine Jan, our host and artist often specialising in native birds.

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Where and when to go bird spotting-

The best time to go bird spotting is first thing in the morning and in the late afternoon, this is when most birds are most active.

The best places to go bird spotting is where there is a food or water source for birds. Fruiting trees, flowering trees, seeding grasses and places with insects are where birds hang out. If you want to see waterbirds, then finding a wetland is the obvious place to go.

Often it is hard to see the colourings of birds, so to ID birds their shape, silhouette and what is called their “Giss”, which is how birds move. Of course another great way to identify birds is by their calls. These can be found on phone on computer apps too!

This weekend Land for Wildlife co-hosted 2 Bird watching or walking sessions for members of Land for Wildlife and friends of.

The role of National Parks, conservation reserves and Private land managed as Land for Wildlife is essential for bird habitat. Native birds do also of course love planted gardens, native and otherwise which have diversity and water.

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On Saturday The Territory Wildlife Park kindly hosted An Introduction to Bird Spotting with Denise Goodfellow who has written various books including “Birds of Australia’s the Top End”. This event was designed for Land for Wildlife members and friends of with fantastic bird painter (and Land for Wildlife member and TWP staff member) Jasmine Jan. This was booked out with 20 attendees keen to know more about birds.

This compact bird spotting session took participants on the TWP train to the natural Goose Lagoon and the bird hide, through the woodland and marginal paperbark swamp, with some stops on the way looking at plants that are sources of bird food and smaller birds.

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Denise gave a short introduction to the types of birds and some bird spotting tips, including the great advise that sitting a long while in one place and watching the birds and getting to know them and how they all behave is really important and rewarding. This can be done on a back veranda or in a patch of native vegetation.

Denise talks

We stayed at the bird hide some time and watched the water birds on the lagoon while those attending quietly  asked questions to our bird experts and not so quietly met other members and talked about birds on their blocks. On the lagoon we spotted Radjah (Burdekin) ducks, Black necked stalks (Jabiru), Little egrets, Comb-crested Jacana and many more.

Helen hide

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Land for Wildlife member and local author, Di Lucas shared some knowledge on bird behaviours and habitat.

In the hide

Talking birds

We learnt from Jasmine that many birds are also nocturnal and can be spotted by their calls. Goose lagoon is a natural lagoon and there are many different landscape types within the park as well as an aviary of rainforest birds.

We also learned about different ways of collecting bird data and doing bird counts and encouraged everyone to participate in the “Aussie Backyard Bird Count” for bird week, to celebrate our fantastic bird life and be part of a citizen science project. Go to http://www.aussiebirdcount.org to get involved! Bird watching is a great way to enjoy the bush (as modelled by Land for Wildlife member Cathy Hansen, below)

Cathy looks

Thanks once again to Denise, Jasmine and The Territory Wildlife Park for hosting us. Go to the next article to hear about our Sunday “Landholder’s Wildlife Walk”