Wednesday, July 9, 2008

No shortcuts to high bird counts

Golden-headed Cisticola finds use for pretty weeds

PLENTY to see in the wetlands today, the final tally after five hours being 65 bird species - without a few regulars.
Yet it is common for visitors in Tyto and in many other birding spots to bemoan a lack of birds. The lagoons do not hold masses of birds, on the water or lining the fringes. The sky above is mostly clear. The open woodlands show a few species but the creek forest sounds and looks a bit lifeless. Where are all the birds?
For a start, how many were there in the carpark trees and plantings? It's not unusual to see 10 species before quitting the asphalt, and another 10 in the first 500 metres of track. (The best sightings are often close to base.)
The Tyto track goes in three ways to the main lagoon. Most walk straight to the viewing knoll, and return the same way, and so miss possible birds by covering the same ground. Many skip the lagoon circle (2km). Or do only part of the creek track. Spend token minutes in the hide. Skip the fire trails. Shun the guava groves. The 'typical' visitor today would probably have seen fewer than 35 species.
The more persistent and lucky (the two go together) would have walked to 50 or so. By cycling most areas twice I gained extra sightings.
So, no shortcuts. Go slow. Go everywhere. Go get 'em!

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