By Judy Christie in Glebe Society Bulletin 10 of 2020

This year’s annual bird survey on Sunday 1 November seemed like a risky proposition with predicted wet weather, but we managed to undertake our surveys in cool, calm, overcast conditions before the rain arrived. A total of 16 people signed on at 6.45 am in Paddy Gray Reserve in Hereford St and were allocated to ten survey sites across Glebe and Forest Lodge including streets, parks and along waterways – participants spent around 20 to 45 minutes surveying the birdlife at each site.

The survey results in 2020 were very consistent with the 2019 survey, in terms of the number of species (26) and total individual birds (623). The two most common birds again were the native noisy miner and the rainbow lorikeet. Other native species becoming more common are the Australian magpie and Australasian figbird with grey butcherbird and laughing kookaburra also in the mix though not so prominent as the friendly magpies. Unfortunately, feral species such as pigeons, spotted doves and common mynas are increasing in number.

Species that we missed this year included cormorants, herons and other ducks. This could be attributed to the very high tide conditions on Sunday morning as well as the ongoing disturbance in Johnstons Creek due to the creek naturalisation works.

However, there were more breeding records this year. Tree martins were observed earlier this year using air vents in a building on the corner of Ross St and St Johns Rd, in Forest Lodge. The Forest Lodge survey team were able to identify up to ten birds flying in and out of the vents and reported chattering of baby birds as adults flew in and out of the vents. Although Tree martins typically nest in natural tree hollows, they are also known to nest in artificial crevices, such as in buildings.

The two figbird nests were in Casuarina glauca in branches overhanging the pedestrian bridge and road into the Tramsheds precinct. One nest contained a sitting adult bird and in the other a juvenile bird, not yet fledged. Figbirds are likely to continue to breed successfully in Glebe and Forest Lodge with street and park plantings of fleshy fruited trees such as figs and especially the now widely street-planted tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis anarcardiodes) as well as the continued presence of weedy species such as the privet and Celtis.

While there were no surprises in this year’s survey, it was good to see a willie wagtail in the vicinity of Federal Park calling loudly suggesting there might have been a mate somewhere nearby.

Once again, we celebrated our work with breakfast at Esca as the rain tumbled down. We were also delighted that Norma Hawkins – who at 98 years of age continues to do so much to promote and support the work of the Subcommittee – was able to join us. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped to make it a very successful and enjoyable spring morning.

Some of the bird watchers undertaking the Society’s 8th Annual Spring Bird Survey – left to right: David Lawrence, Judy Christie, Elisabeth Dark, Diana Lauzi, Madeleine Jennings, Andrew Wood, Tony Tan, Sue Copeland, Rosalind Vaughan, David Watson (photo Anna Szanto). Missing from the photo: Anne Britt, Kim Hague-Smith, Helen Randerson and Anna Szanto