OUTBACK BIRDS - BOP WATCH
Over the last couple of weeks, I have posted reports on an Emu Tours Birds of
the Outback trip. On that trip (roughly a big clockwise circle around NSW
with a dip into Queensland) I kept the BOP Watch records and this note posts a
little about those records (Richard Jordan is completing the formal RAOU
sheets). Just in case you're thinking "BOP"?, it refers to the Birds of Prey
Watch that's been re-instigated by the RAOU. A number of years ago a special
survey was conducted to gather sighting records on BOPs, and has been
recommenced to try and track any impacts on raptors arising from the release
and spread of the rabbit calicivirus (plus other useful purposes).
Some basic principles of the BOP Watch records were (1) only record birds seen
when travelling along in your vehicle (to try and prevent double counting) and
(2) records were only required to be kept for various geographical type zones
which, to me, were rather large. I would have thought that smaller areas
would be more useful - perhaps an RAOU reader could post a note on this
subject. The records I kept are reasonably detailed to narrow down the site
of the bird to within 10 kilometres in some cases.
In two weeks of travelling, we saw 10 species for BOP Watch as follows:
95 Nankeen Kestrel
60 Black Kite
36 Wedge-tailed Eagle
33 Brown Falcon
13 Whistling Kite
13 Black-shouldered Kite
3 Little Eagle (all light phase)
2 Spotted Harrier
2 Australian Hobby
2 Brown Goshawk
A few comments about each species:
Nankeen Kestrels were basically "everywhere" as indicated by the numbers.
They were particularly common on the Goolgowi to Hay stretch. They were
little seen on the Merbein (Mildura) to Broken Hill stretch, but returned on
the Broken Hill to Kinchega National Park run and north of Broken Hill up to
Black Kites didn't join us until Hay - and dominated the Merbein to Broken
Hill stretch. Disappeared at Noccundra (Queensland) and with the exception of
one bird, weren't seen again until Fords Bridge back across the NSW border.
Wedge-tailed Eagles - a number of the sightings were of two or three birds
rather than just one. The last sighting was near Bourke.
Brown Falcons were generally spread throughout the trip, but with a gap from
Menindee town (near Broken Hill) right through to north of Sturt National Park
in the north-west corner of NSW. Then a few popped up Noccundra/Thargomindah
(Queensland) way and they disappeared again until near Fords Bridge (NSW). At
this stage they were lagging behind the Wedgies a bit, but then caught up to
them as the Brown Falcon sightings picked up again and the Wedgie sightings
Whistling Kite - apart from one on the Goolgowi/Hay run, the first sighting
wasn't until just north of Merbein. As per the drop from 33 Brown Falcons to
only 13 Whistling Kites, the whistlers were sparsely spread around, and
comprised 3 sightings of 2 birds together (thus 6 in total), one part where we
saw three separate birds in 20 minutes (thus 9 in total) and 4 sightings of
single birds spread widely apart.
Black-shouldered Kites were prominent at the beginning of the trip to about
Balranald and weren't seen again until some 12 days later near Bourke.
Little Eagle sightings consisted of one bird sitting in a tree near Goolgowi
on 30 September, and two between Noccundra and Thargomindah on 8 October.
Spotted Harriers: one sighting of an immature bird on 29 September, and on
13 October the other one popped up approaching Nyngan.
One Australian Hobby was when we were approaching Mootwingee National Park,
and one near Packsaddle Roadhouse.
One Brown Goshawk was on 12 October soon after leaving Currawinya National
Park, and the other one right in Dubbo flying over the petrol station.
We also recorded UDRs - Unidentified Diurnal Raptors - and I won't count those
as it would be too painful to find out the total number of possible misses at
That's now the finish of my reports from my Outback Birds trip. Hope you
Happy birding to you all
(I know it makes me happy)
Sydney NSW Australia