Earlier this month, staff at Boolcoomatta Reserve had the pleasure of hosting five members of Birds South Australia to undertake bird surveys across the reserve. The dedicated volunteers came from all corners of the state to help.
Several significant rainfall events in the lead up to the surveys broke a three-year dry spell, which meant that the team was greeted by a landscape in boom! The reserve had been transformed into a carpet of lush shrubs, wetlands and flowering eremophila. Needless to say, excitement levels were high as we divided up into teams, picked up datasheets and binoculars and set forth to the monitoring sites.
Over three days, the three teams managed to cover 31 monitoring sites on the reserve – twice!
Sites in River Red Gum-lined creeks had a cacophony of Budgerigars, Cockatiels, Galahs and Little Corellas frantically staking their claim on breeding hollows.
Newly formed wetlands hosted a variety of waterbirds, including Red-kneed Dotterel, White-faced Heron and Pink-eared Duck. Sand plains, now covered in a lush mat of annual foliage provided cover to Crimson Chats, Inland Dotterels, Australian Pratincole and Little Buttonquail.
In the distance, Spotted Harriers were often seen on the hunt. The flood-out was now thick with the melodious calls of Rufous Songlarks, cooing of Diamond Doves, and the chittering of White-winged Fairywrens. Everywhere we looked (and listened), there were new species and interesting behaviours to be observed.
The number of birds counted was unheard of for the reserve, with over 4,000 birds recorded over the weekend!
Budgies, Zebra Finch, Cockatiel and Galah were among the most common species counted, but it was the Black-tailed Native Hen that took out the most abundant bird on survey, with 100s at a time seen foraging anywhere near water.
Records for species diversity were also broken, with 93 species recorded over the three-day survey. The presence of so many water birds taking advantage of full dams and wetlands provided records of species that have been absent for the past several years.
There were several new additions to the Boolcoomatta bird survey species list, including Flock Bronzewing, Australian Reed Warbler, and Black Honeyeater. A highlight for a pair of eagle-eyed volunteers was spotting three Australian Painted Snipe – a notoriously elusive bird that's considered rare in South Australia (and hadn’t been recorded on Boolcoomatta before).
The bird surveys undertaken on Boolcoomatta would not happen without the help of experienced volunteers. Thanks to Steven, Trevor, Bernie, Jeremy and Richard from Birds SA for sharing their time and knowledge. All images supplied by Birds SA member and survey volunteer, Trevor Cox.