Bushfires and birds

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Bushfires and birds
From: "Graham" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002 15:48:32 +1100
G'day birders,
                    Last sunday (13 Jan) I got my first chance to get a look at the aftermath of the control burn near my house in Blaxland (Lower Blue Mtns, about 70km west of Sydney CBD). Whilst the fire was obviously a 'cool' fire it is amazing what little of the understorey is left behind.
Only 4 species of bird were seen in the burnt area, not a surprise really, there is good unburnt (or lesser burnt) areas nearby. The 4 were Grey Butcherbird, Red Wattlebird, Satin Bowerbird and Blackbird.
The Butcherbird wasn't a surprise as it was feeding in the ashes the day after the fire. There are still lots of small skinks (Lampropholis spp) in the area, these are probably easy pickings as there is little leaf litter cover for them.
The Bowerbird was feeding on the ground, on closer inspection, it was feeding on the 1 - 2 cm high grass shoots which were just starting to come up. I didn't notice them until I went up to where the bird was feeding. Interstingly, the Bowerbirds were chasing the Blackbirds, so maybe they were after the same food resource.
As for the Wattlebird, it was feeding in the Banksia serrata, in the dead leaves. I have no idea what the bird was looking for, but it was very busy.
As for the Sooty Owl I saw before the fire, it was still in its rock ledge, safely in its unburnt deep gully. As before, it really didn't care about me standing 8m away, it knew I wasn't able to climb 3m of vertical sandstone.
Graham Turner
Lower Blue Mountains, where the fires have finally stopped.....almost
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