Monitoring of birds in the temperate woodlands of South-eastern Australia is one of the most important tools for assessing ecological health and resilience in this diverse but scarce habitat type within the Great Eastern Ranges (GER) 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. The aim of the ‘Woodland Bird Identification and Survey Technique Workshops’ held recently in the K2W was to broaden the knowledge and interest across the community in conducting bird surveys, including landholders that may not have existing data for their properties.

Mick Roderick, coordinator of BirdLife Australia’s ‘Woodland Birds for Biodiversity’ project, ran two workshops on the weekend of the 11/12th April; one at Neville on the Saturday, the other near Wyangala on the Sunday. Both workshops were well-attended by enthusiastic community members from a broad geographical area. The number of participants at both workshops was at a ‘maximum carrying capacity’, indicating that there is solid interest in this topic in the K2W and that similar future events could occur.

At the workshops, people were introduced to Australia’s temperate woodlands and the birds that inhabit them, why they are so diverse yet so threatened at the same time. Mick also explained the different ways people can get involved in monitoring birds in an area and provided some useful tips on how to recognise different species. A couple of important messages were to focus on shape, size and behaviour of a bird as opposed to just colour and obvious features. In a forest environment, learning the calls is also very important.

Once the ‘theory’ session was over, participants were led on a walk in woodland habitat to practise some of the things learnt in the workshop. A good array of birds were heard or seen and Mick was able to illustrate the importance of learning calls, as on both days there were many species heard but not seen despite efforts to try and locate them! Highlights at Neville included 5 species of thornbills and glimpses of a large group of Varied Sittellas; a threatened species that inhabits our remnant native forests. At Wyangala there was a good array of birds recorded, with a pair of Western Gerygones seen in a patch of dry open woodland perhaps being the highlight there.

Mick would like to thank Lisa Paton, Gordon and Trudi Refshauge, Heather McLeod and Vanessa Cain for their assistance and hospitality during the workshops.

The PDF of the ‘Woodland Bird Identification and Survey Techniques’ workshop is now on the BirdLife Australia website, at the link below.