Superb Lyrebird survey – Tidbinbilla NR

Sun 18 June 2017 08:00am

Chris Davey

Since the January 2003 bushfires Peter Fullagar and Chris Davey have been monitoring the return of the Superb Lyrebird to an area of the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.  They wish to get an idea of the present distribution within the Reserve and are asking COG members to join them for a morning’s survey.  They are calling for expressions of interest to join them at 8.00am to walk the trails and to record the location of calling birds.  Depending on the trails walked the survey should take about three hours.  This outing will be a repeat of the very successful surveys conducted at this time of the year since 2004.

If interested and for further details please contact Chris Davey by email or MOB 0418 679 847

Post event report

The fourteenth annual survey of the Superb Lyrebird was run under perfect conditions with a cool morning, no wind and clear skies. The survey is designed to provide an index of population numbers within the Reserve since the 2003 bushfires.  This survey was dedicated to the memory of Ed Slater whose images and sound recordings greatly improved our knowledge of the Lyrebirds in the Reserve.


Eighteen COG members and friends were assembled at the car park by 8.00 am and after breaking up into teams we soon started to survey the five main walking trails. In addition, because of the number of volunteers, it was possible to also survey the Lyrebird Trail.  The trail is not part of the original five because it was not until sometime after the 2003 fire that the trail was reopened.

Taking a minimum count, 26 individual Superb Lyrebirds were recorded within the Reserve (Gibraltar Rocks-1, Devil’s Gap-0, Fishing Gap-5, Ashbrook-0, Camel Back-20); see Figure 1. Although no birds were recorded on the Ashbrook Trail there was a single bird calling past the end of the trail and allocated to the Camel Back observations. Seven birds were recorded from the Lyrebird/Cascades Trail of which five were also recorded from the Camel Back Trail. In addition, the same bird that was allocated from the Ashbrook Trail was also recorded from the Lyrebird/Cascades Trail leaving a single sighting allocated to the Lyrebird/Cascades Trail and not included in the totals. On the Camel Back Trail there were 18 locations at which Lyrebirds were recorded. At one location three birds were recorded giving a total of 20 birds. On Friday 23 June the Camel Back was surveyed by Chris Davey over the same time, distance and weather conditions and a count of 16 Lyrebirds from 16 locations confirmed a larger number than usual in the area.

During the Sunday survey 35 bird species were recorded with the number seen depending very much on the trail walked; Gibraltar Rocks-28, Devil’s Gap-24, Fishing Gap-15, Ashbrook-12, and Camel Back-11 with 12 species reported from the Lyrebird Trail. There was an increase in the total number of species from 29 last year with an increase from all trails apart from the similar number from the Camel Back Trail. As usual, a greater number of species were recorded from the dryer western-facing slopes.

A reduction in the number of Superb Lyrebirds records from the dryer western-facing slopes with an increase in the Camel Back- Lyrebird/Cascades area may be an indication that the latter area is increasingly becoming favoured as the understory thins out after the 2003 bushfires. Only time will tell.

There were five species reported from the six trails; Crimson Rosella, White-throated Treecreeper, White-browed Scrubwren, Striated Thornbill and Brown Thornbill, with the Grey Shrike-thrush being recorded from all trails apart from the Lyrebird Trail.

Species seen from one track only included the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Satin Bowerbird, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Fuscous Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, Little Raven, and Pied and Grey Currawong. Interestingly, two Eastern Whipbirds were recorded along Mountain Creek, a species reported from this area recently by others and so they may be establishing themselves within the Reserve.

Many thanks to the participants and to the authorities for waiving the entry fees.

Chris Davey


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