Our Bushland Diary

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Great Cocky Count - debriefing

I headed out yesterday afternoon to my designated observation site near The Vines to take part in The Great Cocky Count.  It was beautiful weather; clear skies with almost no cloud, and comfortably cool (around 22 degrees Celsius).  The site was in a Bush Forever area, and a quick walk around it revealed large mature paperbark trees (mostly Melaleuca rhaphiophylla) as well as Marri (Corymbia calophylla) and other gum trees, surrounding a natural spring.  I chose a place on top of nearby earthworks, about 180 metres away, to view the site as dusk approached.  Two kangaroos bounded past, startled.

It was a quiet evening.  I waited impatiently for Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) to make an appearance.  Usually flocks of these birds can be heard from several hundred metres away, but I heard only a few magpies and butcherbirds carolling the sunset.  I watched the colours changing on the Perth Hills with the fading light, and picked a few more ticks off my socks.  Commercial jets droned overhead on their early descent to Perth airport, all flashing lights and brightly-lit tails.  But no flocks of big black birds arrived.  It soon became obvious that Carnaby's might not be coming to roost on this occasion.  

At 6:40pm, I packed up my binoculars and notepad.  My count for the evening was zero.  From a scientific viewpoint, this is still a result, and however disappointing, it's important that it's included in the survey.  I hope the other volunteers had more impressive counts!


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