Liverpool Plains Bird Project

To: "Birding Aus" <>, <>
Subject: Liverpool Plains Bird Project
From: "Peter A. Ekert" <>
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 14:23:16 +1000

The Liverpool Plains Woodland Bird Project

A Birds Australia project funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Natural Heritage Trust (NHT), and the Threatened Species Network (TSN)

Dear Birders and Interested People,
This is a follow-up email to inform those who have not heard of the Liverpool Plains Bird Monitoring Project. 

The Liverpool Plains are located in north-west NSW and comprise approximately 1.2 million hectares of some of Australia’s most productive land. In 1818, explorer John Oxley once described the Liverpool Plains as vegetated with native grass and sparsely timbered, with occasional clumps and lines of timber, with denser timber on the slopes and hills. The main towns in the area are Gunnedah and Quirindi, with villages such as Mullaley, Tambar Springs, Breeza, Carroll and Curlewis. The major landuses of the Liverpool Plains catchment are cropping and grazing. The major crops include wheat, barley, chickpeas, fababeans, sorghum, sunflowers, soybeans, maize and cotton whilst grazing comprises beef and sheep. The majority of more fertile alluvial soils (native grassland and Poplar Box country) has been cleared, while larger areas of remnant vegetation remain on poorer sandy and ridge top soils (Ironbark, Callitris Pine and Stringybark).

The Liverpool Plains Woodland Bird Project aims to work directly with the Liverpool Plains Land Management Committee (LPLMC) and local landowners to obtain protection for woodland bird habitat. A major part of the project so far, has been to obtain, collate and analyse all of the anecdotal and scientific records for all bird species of the Liverpool Plains. We have found that from the Birds Australia Atlas Projects, firstly conducted from 1977-1981 and the current Atlas 1998-2001, there have been over 400 bird surveys conducted on the Liverpool Plains region. These surveys have amassed over 12,000 records of bird species, which is a phenomenal amount of data! These data are most useful in providing information on the birds that occur on the Liverpool Plains and their distribution across the region. In particular, we have been able to detect a decrease in the number of birds that occurred on the Liverpool Plains during the 1st atlas compared to those birds detected in the current atlas. In all, 227 species of birds were recorded in the 1st Atlas compared to 204 species in the second atlas.

In order to obtain a comprehensive coverage across the whole region, we still need to conduct some more surveys of all of the birds in the Liverpool Plains to supplement data we already have. With assistance from landholders, landcare groups, local naturalists, Birds Australia members and any interested people from the public, we will conduct bird surveys in the Liverpool Plains Catchment. The surveys are aimed at identifying areas that are important habitat for woodland birds and to raise awareness on the decline of woodland birds throughout southern Australia. The survey work will enable us to identify sites of high conservation value for protection or revegetation work. We then aim to use ‘focal species analysis’ to develop recommendations on how landholders and the LPLMC can best enhance biodiversity in their region, thereby improving the productivity of their land. Focal species analysis involves identifying the species in a particular area that are most sensitive to particular factors, such as distance between remnants, size of remnants, presence or absence of understorey shrubs or grasses. For example, Grey-crowned Babblers are particularly sensitive to distance between remnants while Hooded Robins may need large areas of remnant vegetation and complex habitat.

The surveys will occur for one or two days, a weekend every month between April and October. The actual dates have not been finalised, but we hope to finalise the dates and survey locations in the next two weeks. The surveys are a great way for any interested people to participate in a unique project. The surveys are also a great way for bird people to see the Liverpool Plains, meet other birders and spend a couple of hours per month doing a spot of bird watching. We currently have a number of local landholders who are keen to assist with surveys being conducted on their land, and we hope to commence surveys in these areas within the coming weeks. We also have been contacted by a number of people and bird groups interested in participating in the surveys and we have been mailing out some information to them. We would still like to hear from anyone whether they are local landholders, non-experienced or experienced birdwatchers or just interested people, who would be like to become involved in the project. So, if you know anyone, please let me know.

Peter A. Ekert
Manager      - 2001 Homebush Bay Bird Monitoring Project
Co-ordinator - Monitoring Rufous Scrub-birds in North-East NSW
                  -  Monitoring the Birds of the Liverpool Plains
Birds Australia (Sydney)
PO Box 1322  Crows Nest, NSW 1585  Australia
Ph: + 61 2 9436 1349    Fx: + 61 2 9436 0466    Mobile:  0410 566104

Birds Australia (formerly Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union)
Looking after Australia's native birds since 1901
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