Outback Birds - BOP Watch

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Subject: Outback Birds - BOP Watch
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 96 9:18:39 +60000

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 
Packsaddle Roadhouse.

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 
dropped away.

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 
other species!!!

That's now the finish of my reports from my Outback Birds trip.  Hope you 
enjoyed them.

Happy birding to you all
(I know it makes me happy)

Irene Denton
Sydney   NSW    Australia

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