2020 Aussie Backyard Bird Count to chart rare species numbers

All a flutter: Members of the Hastings Birdwatchers searching for a rare species sighting. Photo supplied
All a flutter: Members of the Hastings Birdwatchers searching for a rare species sighting. Photo supplied

Have you sighted the rare regent honeyeater? Or what about a rufus scrub-bird?

Residents in the Port Macquarie-Hastings are being encouraged to join the 2020 Aussie Backyard Bird Count, which gets underway on Monday.

Counting comes to a close on October 25 and the event coincides with National Bird Week.

Hastings Birdwatchers' Ian Kerr says the Port Macquarie-Hastings and Macleay are considered among the prime areas for gathering bird data in the country.

"We get more species of birds in Port Macquarie than basically you will see anywhere in the country," he said.

"Specifically, there are four properties in the Hastings-Macleay that nationally have the highest species count.

"The rarest species is the regent honeyeater - which were located a few years ago at Lake Cathie.

"It is believed there is less than 500 in existence - but they have certainly been sighted in our area," he said.

It is believed there is less than 500 in existence - but they have certainly been sighted in our area.

Ian Kerr

Another rare species is the swift parrott which makes the winter journey from Tasmania each year. Two surveys are held each year to ascertain exact numbers, Mr Kerr said.

While twitchers are broadly aware of which species they are likely to find, every now and then a sighting turns up that are not common to this area.

"The brolga is more regularly known around the Cairns area but has been spotted as far south as Byron Bay," Mr Kerr said.

"But I had one turn up at my place at Pappinbarra just recently.

"They are certainly right out of their normal range down here - although they can be sighted on the floodplains of the Macleay.

"Another rare species is the rufus scrub-bird - which was well documented as being a coastal rainforest bird from around 200 years ago.

"However, through land clearing practices this bird now inhabits the tops of mountains such as Barrington Tops and the Werrikimbe region.

"Its numbers are pretty low too and there are concerns that it may have lost up to 50 per cent of its habitat due to the recent bushfires.

"They are a bird that you certainly hear quite often but rarely see," he said.

Mr Kerr said the Aussie Backyard Bird Count is used to chart trends over a longer period of time.

"Our common backyard species give us the best indication of the health of our natural environment.

Our common backyard species give us the best indication of the health of our natural environment.

Ian Kerr

"We think of birds as a barometer for nature.

"This bird count provides a snapshot at the same time each year, allowing us to look at trends in our bird communities, and enabling you to make an important contribution to citizen science from your own home."

Mr Kerr said a bird count can take just 20 minutes and can be conducted in a backyard, local park, or outdoor space.

Count the birds that are counting on you - register now to be part of the nation's largest annual citizen science event.

Meanwhile the National Twitchathon has been cancelled but NSW is pressing ahead with a modified version on October 31 and November 1.

Also making news:

Thank you for valuing local journalism with your subscription. While you're with us, you can also receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.

This story Community scientists needed for annual bird count first appeared on Camden Haven Courier.