Thursday, October 8, 2009

Monga banding trip

The long weekend in October saw seven of us head out to Reidsdale for the second trip for the Monga project (still in need of a name!), and our first banding trip into Monga NP itself.

This update will contain a few plugs and bits of information for everyone, as well as the usual banding data and photos from our weekend's work.

First a note on our accommodation. We stayed at a property called Fairview, a cottage owned by George Sherriff. This is the cottage that Richard and Judyth Gregory-Smith rented from George, and where Richard banded birds up until his passing in 2001. Fairview is ideally situated just outside Monga NP. The cottage is just perfect for what we want as a base for our banding project. I think we'll call it Fairview Field Station (FFS)! It is also looking good as a base for a trip next year where we invite members of the Canberra Ornithologists Group to come out to see what we do. The photo below was taken on George's property Baringa, looking south-west into the Araluen valley. The Fairview cottage is hidden in the trees in the middle of the shot, near the old shed.

Now, a couple of plugs. We had some fabulous wood-fired pizzas at Eureka Pizzeria in Braidwood. Next time you're heading for the coast on a Friday night, drop in for some dinner. You won't be disappointed. We ate there on Saturday night and had planned to cook for ourselves at FFS on Sunday night. Well that idea went out the window, as we had dinner again on Sunday night back at Eureka!

The second plug I have is for the Old Cheese Factory at Reidsdale (see The factory is a base for locals to produce and promote local foods. The factory is right next to Fairview.

Right, on to the birds. We spent all of Sunday in Monga NP, banding along River Forest Rd. The weather in the region was miserable, however the rain stayed off us while we were in the forest. Our site is in wet forest and cool temperate rainforest. We set up our nets along a closed track through the forest, looking like this:

Below is a shot of a net site, with a young-ish Pinkwood (Eucryphia moorei) centre-left and above the net. Monga is renowned for its large stands of Pinkwood.

And here is our banding station on the track:

We caught 34 birds of nine species in nine hours out of 11 nets. There were no retraps (however we did re-trap a few birds that were banded on the day). Data summary:

Brown Thornbill 10
White-browed Scrubwren 9
Large-billed Scrubwren 1
Rose Robin 4
Eastern Yellow Robin 2
Golden Whistler 4
Eastern Whipbird 1
Bassian Thrush 2
Grey Fantail 1

We did catch an Olive Whistler, but it got out of the net before I could put a hand on it! I was impressed with the number of birds calling around us during the day, including plenty of Golden Whistlers, Olive Whistlers, Eastern Whipbirds, Pilotbirds, Superb Lyrebirds and a single Cicadabird.

We caught three male Rose Robins. I've included here some comparison shots, showing adult and immature males. The mature male has a brighter forehead patch and a uniformly darker wing. The younger bird has a duller forehead patch and browner wings, with pale tips to the flight feathers and coverts.

We also caught a female Rose Robin:

An Eastern Whipbird:

A Large-billed Scrubwren. The second shot is a close-up of the head where a tick is burrowing in for a feed!

And last, but not least, a Bassian Thrush (photo by Kim Sebo)