Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Banding in a vineyard

Yet another banding project I'm involved in!

A project has just been started by Peter Milburn and Mark Clayton, studying the birds at the Lerida Estate vineyard. Lerida Estate is beside the Federal Highway, 50km north-east of Canberra, and is set on the lower slopes of the range overlooking Lake George.

The main study species is the Silvereye, a species that has an impact on grapes and other fruit crops, however all species caught are banded.

It is an interesting site, with some mist nets being set under bird netting over ripening grapes and others in the open between rows of vines.

Last weekend we banded for a couple of hours on Saturday evening and about five hours on Sunday morning. We caught:

Superb Fairy-wren 3
Yellow-rumped Thornbill 3
Red-browed Finch 3
European Goldfinch 3
Silvereye 11 (5 retraps)

We record all retraps even if they are from that day as part of the study is to determine what birds are resident and what are just moving through the vineyard, and if birds are caught in the netted areas and released outside the nets, do they get back in again. So far nothing has actually been caught under the bird netting but there are birds inside the netting. Interestingly, three of the Silvereyes were the Tasmanian race, lateralis; these birds migrate to the mainland for winter.

Lerida Estate winery

The view across the top of Lake George, with the Cullerin Range wind farm in the background

Mist nets under exclusion netting

Mist nets in the open between vine rows

A mist net covers the end of a couple of vine rows, with the exclusion netting open, aiming to catch birds escaping from under the netting.

The main study beast, the Silvereye

This Silvereye is the Tasmanian race lateralis, with the chestnut flanks. Note the bit of purple staining on the vent and the partially digested grape skin on Mark's finger.

Female Superb Fairy-wren

European Goldfinch

European Goldfinch, showing the wing about halfway through moult of the primaries.

Juvenile European Goldfinch

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A trip to Monga NP

On 9-10 January four of us went to Monga NP for a weekend of banding. We spent a day at River Forest Rd, beside the Mongarlowe River, and a day at Tombarra, a private property about 18km downstream on the same river.

We had quite a busy morning on River Forest Rd, catching 53 birds of 16 species out of ten nets. Species list and numbers banded and (retrapped) below. The treecreeper was a surprise (we did not see or hear one all day), and the Olive Whistlers were silent. Black-faced Monarchs called all day but we didn't catch any.

Laughing Kookaburra 2
Red-browed Treecreeper 1
White-browed Scrubwren 6 (5)
Large-billed Scrubwren 7
Brown Thornbill 6 (3)
Striated Thornbill 3
Yellow-faced Honeyeater 2
Lewin's Honeyeater 1
Eastern Spinebill 2
Eastern Yellow Robin 1 (1)
Golden Whistler 3 (1)
Rufous Fantail 2
Grey Fantail 1
Red-browed Finch 1
Silvereye 3
Bassian Thrush 1

At Tombarra, we threw up six nets for about five hours and caught 34 birds of 15 species:

Crimson Rosella 2
Superb Fairy-wren 4
White-browed Scrubwren 2
Brown Thornbill 2
Striated Thornbill 5
Yellow-faced Honeyeater 2
New Holland Honeyeater 1
Eastern Spinebill 3
Eastern Yellow Robin 2
Golden Whistler 2
Rufous Whistler 2
Rufous Fantail 2
Grey Fantail 2
Red-browed Finch 1
Silvereye 2

Now for some photos...

A juvenile Eastern Spinebill. Juveniles are unmistakeable, with an almost honey-coloured plumage below, a pale lower mandible and grey eye. Check this post for a shot of an adult male for comparison.

A lovely Red-browed Treecreeper. This is a female, with a rufous breast.

An immature Golden Whistler. Juveniles are a rufous ball of fluff and quickly moult into their second pluamge inside the first month or so. This wonderful photo by my friend Julian Robinson, shows a brand new juvenile. My photos below show a bird that is probably four to six weeks old, with plenty of rufous feathers. The rufous-edged primaries are kept for the year.

A couple of banding-in-action shots. First, a tiny Striated Thornbill about to be banded. Second, a Rufous Fantail gets its band applied.

Lastly, the striking New Holland Honeyeater.