Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Are You a 'Lister' ?

It a long time since I bothered keeping a written list of birds for specific sites or even a grand total. In fact on the occasions when other birders ask me how many species of birds I've seen, I usually make some noncomittal answer or give some vague number. The question is usually asked by someone who's seen far more than I have, keeps impeccable lists and is often the prelude to telling me just how many species they've seen. It's a wonder that I don't keep lists. In my youth, not telling you how lomg ago that was, I kept lists of many things. I stood on the street corner collecting tram and trolleybus numbers. I have a 1954 copy of "The Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe" bought for me at that time by my parents. It's rather dilapidated, but contains lists and totals of my early birding. I seem to recall that this was the first British field guide and was possibly the catalyst for the surge of interest in birding in the UK. It was a big leap up from my Observer's Book of British Birds that I had previously relied on.
These days I rely on my memory to list birds, something that with age, is becoming somewhat less reliable. You may well be wondering what this all has to do with the images of a Black Currawong. Well, if my memory is correct, this is the first one that I've recorded in the South Arm area, at Goat Bluff to be precise. I spent a couple of hours walking aro
und the bluff this morning, recording 38 species, boosted by a few seabirds and waders. Most of the area is coastal heath and two of the commoner shrubs, Banksia marginata and Correa alba, are both in flower and attracting many birds. I spent some time waiting at one banksia as I attempted to photograph a succesion of visitors. They included, Crescent Honeyeaters, almost exclusively female, New Holland and Yellow-throated Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebill, flocks of Silvereye and Brown Thornbills. Small flocks of Yellow-tailed Cockatoos passed nearby and last but not least, the lone Black Currawong pictured. I photographed it as it passed up and down the bluff and I got the impression it was lost. Whether that was really so, or why I thought that, I'm really not sure. There are Grey Currawongs in the area, especially so in the woodland above the bluff, but I've only rarely seen them in the coastal heath and nearly always during the Winter months. Perhaps I really should start committing my lists to paper.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,

Its been a while since I posted anything onto your blog, but I just wanted to say Hi and that I appreciate your blogging efforts. I usually check it every couple of days, to get a hit of birding while I am stuck inside at work. Regarding the Black / Grey Currawong distribution, I think this is interesting. I usually think of it as a highland / lowland thing but Maria Island is one place where I have never seen a Grey, and Blacks are plentiful, right down to sea level. I wonder what factor it is that restricts them in certain areas, any ideas?
I've not been able to get much photography in lately, hopefully over the easter break I can get out a bit, I'll send a few shots in if I get anything interesting.


Felix Wilson

BirdingTas said...

Hi Felix,
Thanks for your comments and look forward to more articles and photographs. The Black Currawong regularly visits coastal areas on the North West and West coasts, often among the tea tree swamps. There doesn't seem to be an obvious reason why it doesn't do so in the South East. Perhaps it's as simple as they don't need to, having sufficiently good foraging areas without having to resort to coastal areas.

Anonymous said...

OK then Alan, what's your Tasmanian list? {Don't ask me what mine is, I have no idea.} Tim Reid used to have a good one thanks to all his seabirding.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,
Glad to see you 'listed' 38 for this outing!

You're right about the Black Currawongs. We generally think of them as 'highland' birds, but then, as you say, have seen them to sea level in areas other than, I guess, the great Hobart environs. Have seen both black and grey at Bangor/Tasmans Monument, and lots of Blacks feeding on the beaches at Maria Island. But round Hobart and South Arm, etc. it's generally only the Greys we see. Have seen both regularly at Meehan Range, but not South Arm. A good sighting to add to your list for the day.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Murray,
As I said I don't actually keep a list, but a quick scan suggests at least 230 species.

BirdingTas said...

Hi John,
It's interesting to speculate what makes the area around Greater Hobart different for Black Currawongs. Around the Eastern Shore the Grey's have increased and are seen in gardens during Winter, this might inhibit Blacks. BTW, my "listing" of 38 species was an attempt to show the quality of the morning's birding rather than suggest I actually wrote a list--doubt that I'll ever get round to that!