Despite some initial COVID setbacks, the Natural Values team has managed to make some good progress on the biodiversity research program. It was great to get out of lockdown and visit farms across Victoria, for the ecologists and ornithologists, it was a real pleasure to be out counting birds in the sunshine.
Thanks to mostly favourable conditions, we were able to complete the spring bird surveys for the Victorian farms in about six weeks of fieldwork. It was a pretty good haul too - across all farms we recorded a total of 107 bird species, ranging from 27 – 64 species per farm. These included some woodland favourites like the hooded robin, peaceful dove, brown treecreeper and western gerygone, high-flying raptors like the swamp harrier and whistling kite, and some less-common sightings like the white-winged fairy-wren and black-fronted dotterel.
A personal favourite was watching the white-fronted chats that were often seen busy in canola crops. We’re now preparing for a jam-packed autumn that will see all four ornithologists out surveying all 50 farms across New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
Fred is a landscape ecologist at La Trobe University, finding evidence-based solutions to global and local conservation issues. He has a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management (Honours) from the University of Newcastle. In 2020 he obtained a PhD from La Trobe University on the role of fire in shaping bird and plant communities in eucalypt forests and woodlands.