Thursday, January 4, 2018

Annual report 2017 - Overall

This is an overall report on birds observed in Carwoola in 2017.  I have largely followed the model used for the Annual Report for 2011 to 2016, in particular the decision to adopt a multi-post approach.  However what follows has to some extent evolved during writing.  .  (For those that think the result is still too long, the Canberra Ornithologists Group Annual Bird Report is 80 A5 pages - and 2Mb to download!)

While responsibility for the analysis in this Report is down to me, the opportunity to compile the Report is entirely due to the efforts of observers to report interesting sightings to me.  I thank you all - may this continue.

This report will be a bit heavy on numbers but I will attempt to explain them in terms of their meaning rather than simply a barrage of percentages!  For those who wish to skip the statistics I have tried to highlight the main points in bold blue.

I use the term Carwoola to cover the catchment area of the Stoney Creek Gazette,  As well as Carwoola itself (now united following the merger of Queanbeyan and Palerang Councils) it includes a bunch of  other localities (including Primrose Valley and, importantly from the view of birding, Hoskinstown) to the SE of Queanbeyan.  It is illustrated in this sketch map:

The database I maintain is pretty well restricted to that area to provide some consistency.  However if very interesting birds are reported in a some what wider area:
·                     where people might like to go and view the birds (eg the Plumed Whistling Ducks on dams close to Bungendore); or
·                     the sighting suggests we should keep an eye out  in case they also turn up here
I will also include them on this blog but not the database nor - other than mentions like this - in my reports.

The group of folk reporting has been quite stable this year (including the return of some observers) apart from the usual emptying out in Winter.   

By the end of 2017 we had recorded, over a 11 year period, 
195 species in the catchment area of the Gazette (see full list here - the hyperlinks in that post take you to pages of photos).   1 species (Azure Kingfisher) was observed for the first time in 2016.  By the end of 2017  18 have been recorded in every month since this project started in 2007.  This is the same result as at the end of 2016. 

Over the 11 year period 99 species (50.8% of species observed) have been recorded undertaking breeding activity.  2 species (Brown-headed Honeyeater and Australian King-Parrot) were recorded breeding for the first time in 2017.  More details on breeding activity are provided in another post to this blog (see link below). 

The cumulative number of species observed for the first time or recorded breeding for the first time are shown for each year below.

It is interesting that over a 30 year period the Garden Bird Survey, run by the Canberra Ornithologists Group has recorded 239 species with 108 of these (46.2%) recorded as breeding.  Given the much shorter time span and far fewer observers I think we have, to quote Young Mister Grace, "...all done very well."

In 2017, 156 species were recorded in the study area.  This is the  equal highest number recorded in the study area (equal to the number of species reported in 2015) and amounts to 79.5% of those ever recorded in the area.  This graph shows the number of species recorded per year.

The weather for 2017 is reviewed here  and appears not to have had a great impact on the birds around the area. This is particularly surprising in view of the year being very dry and our own block, among many others, being incinerated in the February 17 fire.  I fact I have been very surprised at the diversity around our house since the fire with more species of birds seen in that area in the period July to December 2017 than for any similar period since 2007.

In 2017 30.9% of the species recorded were observed undertaking some form of breeding activity.   This is a small decrease on 2016 but is still similar to other recent years.

Links to other sections of this report


  1. Thank you Martin, very interesting and informative.

    I note the species/breeding accumulation curves. I wonder if there is a corellation between them and observer effort as seen through N of observers and/or N of obs reported?

    Best wishes - David

  2. Sorry David. I didn't get a notification of your message and have only just come across it! The short answer is that observer effort isn't recorded because it is too difficult. There are now 4 people who report a full list each month that we're around but that can vary from few days to a full month. There are probably another 10 folk who report when they see something interesting - of which 3 or 4 give me a sighting most months and the others once or twice a year. I suspect that rainfall is the more important determinant of number of species seen in a year.

    WRT to breeding, quality of observer effort is probably more important than quantity. The number of reports of breeding dropped a fair bit when one observer left the area.


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