So why do we conduct these surveys? Part of conducting an environmental rehabilitation project involves monitoring flora and fauna as well as physical measures such as water quality. This information can help to measure the effectiveness of the project including impacts on biodiversity and erosion control. In many cases the data for the presence of flora and fauna can be incomplete, particularly for a local segment of habitat and in the case of Silcock Street it was considered a priority to gather as much information as possible.
One valuable method of determining the quality of a habitat region is to conduct a bird survey. Birds are reasonably conspicuous and a team of experienced observers, armed with binoculars and cameras can efficiently identify bird species and record their presence. Conducted on a quarterly basis the team can determine the number of species using the site and which birds are resident (all year round) and which birds are seasonal visitors. Over a period of years changes in bird populations can be tracked and mapped against changes in vegetation and land form.
After a year of surveys we now know that the area is a mecca for bird species. We know, so far, that there are 27 residential birds including urban birds like Brown Honeyeaters, Rainbow Lorikeets, Magpies and Butcherbirds as well as aquatic birds like Black Ducks, White-faced Herons and the Sacred Ibis. Other bird species visit at certain times of the year including the Leaden Flycatcher, Scarlet Honeyeaters the Spangled Drongo and the Dollarbird.
We know that there are seasonal blooms of the Melaleuca and Eucalypt which attract birds to the area, but we don’t always know the relationship between the presence of a bird species and the types and form of vegetation present along with hydrology, seasonal changes and weather patterns. This information can have an impact on how we best manage a site in order to preserve biodiversity and the ecology of an area.
We still have a lot to learn and by observing the birds we can at least advance our understanding of the ecology of valuable wetland areas like Hays Inlet. One thing is certain though; we really appreciate the enthusiasm and expertise of the Birders of the South Pine River. They have been able to provide a great story for our community and reinforce the value of the work carried out by our Green Army team and bushcare volunteers. So a big thank you to Rita Larsen and her team!