A big honeyeater migration

Subject: A big honeyeater migration
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2013 10:56:56 +1000
Hi Birders,

It's a while since I've posted here, but just wanted to share the news about this year's honeyeater migration in the Blue Mountains. As many of you know, each year we see thousands of Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters pass through, with a few other species, on their way north in autumn. There's a huge variation in numbers, not only from one day to another but from one year to another, and this year is proving to be a big one!

Since autumn 2011, we've had members of Blue Mountains Bird Observers counting at key sites on many mornings throughout the season. Because of the huge variability (some mornings there are virtually no birds moving, and on other mornings the numbers can be phenomenal) we aim to carry out counts on as many days as possible in the 6-week period (early April to mid-May). We have 5 counting sites across the mountains and counts are 20 minutes duration - counting all species of migrating birds as they pass a single point.

So far this season, two of the counts have given us amazing results. On 10th April, 2985 birds were counted in the 20-minutes crossing Shipley Road. This is our highest result since the project started, and almost equal to the highest rate ever recorded for the honeyeater migration. Then on 13th April, the count on Narrow Neck was 2790 birds. Bear in mind that these figures represent a random 20-minute sample at just a single site of what is usually a 3-4 hour period of movement through the morning. So the total number of migrating Yellow-faced Honeyeaters becomes mind-boggling in a year like this!

If you happen to be in the Blue Mountains on a fine weather morning between now and the middle of May, it's really worth checking out the migration. There are many sites they can be seen, generally at the head of north-leading gullies on the south side of the ridge. But there are two exceptional sites to watch them. Shipley Road (Blackheath), between Helvetia Rd and Megalong Valley Road is generally the site with the greatest number of birds, as they can be seen crossing Shipley Rd after flying up the gully from Megalong Valley. Almost as many can be seen on Narrow Neck peninsula near Katoomba, unless it's a windy day. Here the birds fly low over the heath and along the peninsula and can be watched at several points along Glenraphael Drive. On some mornings here I've seen up to 11 species migrating.

The weather is looking favourable for good migration this weekend, although you never know for sure!

I'll also mention that I've been posting regular updates of the migration on Twitter If you're interested in keeping up to date with the progress of the migration and of our counts - and if you're not on Twitter, you can still see my timeline at

For more information on the migration see my website: The counts are carried out by Blue Mountains Bird Observers as part of the IBA (Important Bird Area) project.



Carol Probets


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