Woodland BirdLife workshops a hit

Can you pick a Buff-rumped Thornbill from a Striated Thornbill? Landholders from a wide area surrounding Neville and Wyangala near Cowra on the NSW central tablelands now can, thanks to two workshops delivered in partnership with BirdLife Australia.

Hosted by Neville Landcare and Hovells Creek Landcare, the Woodland Bird Identification and Survey Methods workshops taught participants about the diversity of bird species found in temperate woodlands and why many of these birds are threatened species.

BirdLife Australia’s Woodland Birds for Biodiversity project coordinator, Mick Roderick, says monitoring of birds in the temperate woodlands of South-eastern Australia is one of the most important tools for assessing the ecological health and resilience of this diverse but scarce habitat type within the Great Eastern Ranges corridor. It is also a great way to engage with communities in habitat restoration and protection.

“Traditionally, bird monitoring and data collection has been done by birdwatchers and hence there has been a bias towards roadsides and public land,” says Mick. ” So the aim of the workshop was to broaden knowledge and interest in the broader community about bird surveys,” he says. “We were particularly keen to engage landholders that may not know what birds occur on their property.”

Participants in the workshops learnt about survey techniques, bird identification, call recognition of different species and how to separate similar species by sight and sound.

“It’s important to focus on shape, size and behaviour of a bird as opposed to just colour and obvious features, however, in a forest environment, learning the calls is also very important,” Mick says.

Once the theory session was over, participants armed with binoculars, notebooks and bird field guides walked local woodland to practise their newly acquired skills.

“A good array of birds were seen and we had the opportunity to illustrate the importance of learning calls as many species were heard but not seen despite our best efforts to locate them,” Mick says.

“Highlights at Neville included five species of thornbills and glimpses of a large group of Varied Sittellas – a threatened species that inhabits remnant native forest. At Wyangala, there was a good array of birds recorded with a pair of Western Gerygones seen in a patch of dry open woodland,” Mick says.

With more than 60 participants at the workshops there seems solid interest in woodland birds, inspiring organisers to consider running future similar events.

“The workshop was a huge success not only from the perspective of learning and bird-watching but also from the community engagement side of things,” says Lisa Paton from Neville Landcare. “We could have run two workshops at Neville and I am hoping somewhere in the near future we may be able to do it again. Those that attended came from all sides of life, some were avid birders, others just newcomers, and several key community members. The Landcare group also gained three new members from the day so that was wonderful,” Lisa says.

The Woodland Bird workshops were part of the BirdLife Australia’s Systematic Monitoring of Woodland Birds to Inform (Landscape Scale) Priority Habitat Conservation project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust through the GER Grants Program.

Mick and K2W facilitator, Mary Bonet, would like to thank Lisa Paton (Neville Landcare), Gordon and Trudi Refshauge, Heather McLeod (Hovells Creek Landcare) and Vanessa Cain for their assistance and hospitality during the workshops.
Woodland Bird Workshops - Western Gerygone Woodland Bird Workshops - Wyangala