Black-eared Miner searches in Vic (trip report with good news)

Subject: Black-eared Miner searches in Vic (trip report with good news)
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 11:57:41 +1100
Hi All,
Last week headed into the Murray Sunset National Park (NW Vic) for some
intensive searching for our translocated Black-eared Miners (see earlier
postings to b-a for more detail here). We were again well supported by b-a
list members...THANK YOU. Between the 6 of us (Alistair Stewart, Gary
Peterson, Nick Casey, John Ewen, Rebecca Boulton and myself) we walked about
80 km of transects over two days. Best find was a single colour banded bird
that was released as a juvenile last Oct and has now dispersed from it's
natal colony, joining one of the few remaining colonies of Vic Black-eared
Miners. We also located two more unbanded groups of miners (6 and ~10 birds)
both of which contained at least one Black-eared Miner; unfortunately the
smaller group also contained 2 Yellow-throated Miners-with which Black-eared
Miners hybridise. The day after we departed Rebecca located the second of
our four translocated colonies from last year. When translocated the group
contained 9 adults and juveniles. While only five of these birds were
observed (based on colour band sightings) the group also contained 7+
unbanded individuals inc juveniles!!! In other words despite some dispersal
(the above mentioned juv came from this group) and probable (but not
unexpected) mortality the group has increased in size by at least 30%!!!!
Other exciting news is that the colony translocated in October of this year
has now hatched chicks within a couple of hundred meters of the release
site. While not wanting to 'count our miners before they hatch' it would
appear that we are well on the way to re-establishing a viable population of
Black-eared Miners in Victoria.

The two day trip also produced some other good sightings for participants
including Red-lored and Gilbert's Whistlers, Striated Grasswren, Mallee
Emu-wren (breeding), Malleefowl (2 birds, three active mounds), breeding
White-browed and Masked Woodswallows, Shy heathwren, Chestnut Quail-thrush
(loads inc. some breeding), Regent Parrots (common), Major Mitchell (just
2). Also 15 reptile sp. inc Mallee-short tailed Snake 1 (Suta nigriceps);
Coral Snake 3 (Simoselaps australis); Desert Skink 1(Egernia inornata);and 6
mammals inc. Little Pygmy-possum 1 all while spotlighting.

If anybody wishes to help out in the future we will almost certainly be
looking for more assistance in the first week of December when we will do
our final searches for the birds before summer really sets in. 

Once again many thanks to the participants for all their help.
Happy birding

Rohan Clarke
PhD Candidate
'Conservation Biology of the Black-eared Miner'
Department of Zoology
La Trobe University
Bundoora Vic. 3083
Tel 03 9479 1672
Fax 03 94791551
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