Echuca-Moama area survey results

Subject: Echuca-Moama area survey results
From: Keith Stockwell <>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2006 22:00:31 +1100
Hi all,

Two bird surveys have been carried out in the Echuca-Moama area over recent

The annual Superb Parrot count was carried out in the Picola District,
northern Victoria and in Millewa Forest, south-east of Deniliquin. Despite
the drought, Superb Parrot numbers appear to be holding even though the
number observed around Picola was slightly down on last year. I do not know
the figures for the NSW side of the Murray. It was heartening to hear that
a flock of about 150 Superb Parrots was reported to be in the Picola area a
few days prior to the survey. A group of about 60 SPs was recorded during
our survey. The meeting point for the Picola survey is a favoured spot for
the species and there were several flying about as we met. There were lots
of volunteers again this year.

Some members of the Echuca and District Branch of BOCA participated in the
annual Challenge Bird Count, the aim of which is to record as many bird
species ~ and the number of each species ~ seen within a 40km radius of a
central point. I was unable to participate this year because I was
returning home from birding in Qld. (In fact, I've only spent a few days
home over recent months, with the help of others adding lots of species to
my life list).

136 species were observed around Echuca-Moama compared to 146 species last
year. Numbers were also down in absolute terms, many of our local wetlands
being completely dry. As our members have observed 180 species in our area
over the past 15 years, including winter migrants, 136 is not too bad a
tally. And there were far fewer birders in our survey team this year, just

Two species not normally observed here over summer were observed, two Pied
Currawongs (they are common here during winter) and a Gull-billed Tern at
Green Lake (near Corop).

The survey team spent much time driving around on the plains between
Womboota and Mathoura. Lots of birds, including raptors, are usually
observed on/over the plains but the plains are presently very dry and in a
terrible condition.  Few, if any, rice crops have not been planted in this
area this year (and the rice mill in echuca has closed permanently). Lots
of Magpies were observed on the plains but not much else.

The Reed Beds Swamp near Mathoura is dry but the team still travelled along
the adjoining road to Gulpa Creek (with success) in search of Azure and
Sacred Kingfishers. Seven Dollarbirds were observed. As expected, emus were
recorded in Barmah-Millewa Forest.

Despite the drought, many wader and waterbird species were observed, but
few were in large numbers.

In past years we have recorded scores of Rainbow Bee-eaters. They used to
nest in 'tunnels' they built into local sandhills. As I reported on this
Forum early this year, possibly due to a sudden very cold snap during
February of last year immediately after which several dead RBEs were
observed, no RBEs were observed during our survey last year. Very few were
observed in northern Victoria/southern Riverina during last summer. This
year, our team recorded just seven. Oh dear! Perhaps it will take many
years for numbers of RBEs to recover in our area.

Keith Stockwell


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