Blitz and impact of drought

To: "chat line" <>
Subject: Blitz and impact of drought
From: "Michael & Janette Lenz" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 13:40:53 +1100

With great interest I have read recent various comments and suggestions seeking to explain the low number of birds of certain species ( or absence of others) during my Mt. Ainslie blitz tour.


The suggestions included: changes in bird behaviour in the course of a breeding cycle, i.e. affecting detectability (Esme); to movement from less favourable to more favourable patches within an area (Geoffrey); and local differences (Jack). All comments are valid.


However, the changes (reduction in number of birds and species) I noted did not occur over night, or just on the day of the blitz. Some areas which were part of my tour I also visited earlier on several occasions, and the picture was very much the same as on the blitz day. But it was a surprise to see that the changes were more wide-spread than I had anticipated. The decline has been going on for several years (I could also have added that I saw neither cuckoos nor Dollarbird on the blitz day).


I also know several other areas (not at Mt Ainslie) that I visited in recent times show Rufous Whistler, Grey Fantail and Leaden Flycatcher are not as numerous in 2008 as they were previously. Perhaps we can agree that some areas no longer support certain species (or no longer in the numbers of previous years) most likely due to drought-related habitat degradation?


That is, my comments were mainly aimed at raising awareness of drought impact. We have all too often seen the drought as bringing us the excitement of inland species which are usually absent from our area, but I think we do not give enough focus of what the drought does to our local breeding birds.


To top it all off, yesterday I visited the Lake Bathurst area only to find what little water that has been there is close to disappearing again. Since April 2000 the lake has either been dry or had just very small areas under water for limited periods. This is despite that the area has received similar rainfall to what we have experienced in Canberra in recent times, but the only difference this has made is to have slightly delayed the drying up.


So, this is my suggestion: we should enjoy the good patches of bird life while they last even more so than in the past, but we should also not forget to keep a watchful eye, and good records, on areas which show signs of negative climate impact on bird populations.


Michael Lenz

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