RFI : Gibraltar Range National Park/Rufous Scrub Bird

To: "david taylor" <>
Subject: RFI : Gibraltar Range National Park/Rufous Scrub Bird
From: "Peter A. Ekert" <>
Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 11:36:50 +1000
Hi David and Birders
You were enquiring about birding in Gibraltar Range National Park, particularly the abundance and distribution of the Rufous Scrub-bird.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service commenced the 'Monitoring Rufous Scrub-birds (Atrichornis rufescens) in North East New South Wales Project' (with Birds Australia) in 1999.  The project continued in 2000 and 2001, assessing the abundance of the Rufous Scrub-bird in World Heritage National Parks in north-east NSW. 
During the breeding season (September and December) of 1999 and 2001, surveys were conducted at over 400 sites within these National Parks.  The results indicated that the Rufous Scrub-bird is relatively uncommon in Gibraltar Range/Washpool National Parks, with 5 territories (or birds) in 1999, and 2 territories in 2001 located across 60 survey sites. 
Suitable sites for Rufous Scrub-birds in Gibraltar Range National Park are in areas within close proximity (100-200m) to creeklines, and/or selectively-logged and natural tree fall sites with an understorey comprised of dense regrowth.  Other locations, along roads and walking trails, that comprise dense vegetation are also suitable locations for the species.
I would suggest that July would not be the best time to record a Rufous Scrub-bird as it is the non-breeding season.  Male birds are mostly vocal during the breeding season, when they produce a variety of loud calls including mimicry of other species including the Eastern Yellow-Robin, Pale-Yellow Robin, Lewin's Honeyeater, Logrunner, Eastern Whipbird, and Golden Whistler. The most common call however, is the loud 'chip-chip-chipping song'.   During the non-breeding season, male Rufous Scrub-birds are more inclined to produce infrequent, short, and clipped calls (may be contact calls?).  
Seeing a Rufous Scrub-bird is easier said than done!  They have an incredible ability to run mouse-like beneath dense undergrowth quickly without a sound.  In my experience, one may get a fleeting glimpse as the bird runs along a log, or climbs down a vine (~30cm above the ground) after it has been calling.
Peter A. Ekert
Birds Australia Project Co-ordinator
(Liverpool Plains Woodland Bird Project (North NSW))
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
(Rufous Scrub-bird monitoring program in North-east NSW)
The Wetlands Centre Ecologist
The Wetlands Centre
PO Box 292
Ph. 02 49516466     Mob.  0410566104     Fax.  02 49501875
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