My 2004 highlight was the
successful effort by a team of COG members to demonstrate breeding of
the Glossy Black Cockatoo for the first time in the ACT in August.
I witnessed the young and the interactions with the parents after
its first night outside the nest hollow for the first few hours of the day (an
article for CBN has been prepared), certainly a great experience. The family has
since been seen by several people and I recently saw the family of birds
again on two occasions, surprisingly, the young is still dependent on the
adults, but there is a good chance that the young may reach full
Otherwise, I have become increasingly aware of the
impact of 3 years of drought on vegetation and bird life. At my GBS site in
Ainslie I had the lowest number of passage migratory species and breeding in a
long time. Even more common birds such as Silvereyes, Noisy Friarbirds and even
Pied Currawongs were down in numbers.
Following on from earlier discussion on the chat
line about the number of young/Currawong pairs, my impression is also
that this species and the Magpie had "on average" fewer young than in
previous years. There will always be pairs which produce a good number of young
(2 or more), they may have access to good food resources (for
example people providing extra food). But in order to decide whether or not
a breeding season was good or bad for a given species, we require many records,
and then the "average from all records" may reveal whether the species in
question had a good or bad season. (The morale of it all: please record the
breeding success of your GBS birds (and at other sites) and make those records
available for the COG data base!) I DO HOPE THAT THESE 'HIGHLIGHTS' FROM MEMBERS
ON THE CHAT-LINE ARE ALSO BEING RECORDED SOMEWHERE??
But also at Canberra Nature Park (although my
experience is largely restricted to Mt Ainslie) many common/ regularly
seen species have declined: Grey Fantail, Rufous Whistler, Willie Wagtail,
Dusky Woodswallow, Western Gerygone etc. And the recently mentioned
Crested Shrike-tit was only briefly there at one site early in the season, but
disappeared (there used to be 2 territories in the 'Campbell Park' area). A
number of other species have done similar things: present at the start of the
breeding season, but giving up on breeding later.
At the same time it is good to hear
positive reports from other areas, most notably Jack Holland's report from
Chapman. It does indicate how patchy things can be.
The drought had far worse impact towards Lake
George/Lake Bathurst. These areas missed out on a lot of rain that Canberra was
fortunate to get (for example as a result no suitable habitat for Singing
Bushlarks in 2004 in Tarago area).
Best wishes for 2005!