Tidbinbilla NR – Superb Lyrebird survey

Sat 11 June 2022 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 at the Reserve car park 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.


Register with Chris Davey (chris_davey@aapt.net.au) MOB 0418679 847, providing your name and mobile number, and the name and number of an emergency contact.

Post event report

The 19th annual survey of the Superb Lyrebird, designed to provide an index of population numbers within the Reserve since the 2003 bushfires, was run under good conditions with a cool morning, a gusty wind and clear skies.

Unfortunately this year we were unable to survey all tracks with just nine COG members and friends assembled at the car park by 8.00 am. Due to the lack of volunteers with previous survey experience it was decided that we would cover Gibraltar Rocks, Ashbrook Trail and Camel Back to best give a representative sample of counts from previous years.

Counts were as follows, Gibraltar Rocks – 2 (1), Devil’s Gap – not counted (2), Fishing Gap – not counted (3), Ashbrook – 2 (2), Camel Back – 8 (16), with Lyrebird/Cascades not counted. Figures in brackets are numbers reported last year.

Two of the transects provided counts that would be expected from previous years but the number counted along the Camel Back Trail was much lower than the 16 counted the previous year. Conditions had been blustery so a recount was conducted a week later when the weather conditions were ideal. The recount provided one additional bird only, so confirming survey repeatability. The count for this trail is therefore given as nine (see Figure 1).

In general, over the past five years, the numbers for Devil’s Gap, Fishing Gap and Lyrebird/Cascades have remained relatively constant, giving an average of 1, 4 and 2 respectively.  As in previous years, the numbers from Lyrebird /Cascades are not included in the total because this trail has only been surveyed since 2017. We therefore assume a total count for this year to be 18, down from the total of 25 the previous year.




Figure 1. Numbers of Superb Lyrebirds recorded from walking trails at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, 2004-2022. GR-Gibraltar Rocks, DG-Devils Gap, FG-Fishing Gap, AT-Ashbrook Trail, CB-Camel Back, Tot-Total number of birds.


During the survey, 28 bird species were recorded with the number seen depending very much on the trail walked: Gibraltar Rocks – 24, Devil’s Gap – not counted, Fishing Gap – not counted, Ashbrook – 11, and Camel Back – 11, with Lyrebird/Cascades Trail not counted. There was a similar number of species as last year. Birds not reported previously on the Lyrebird survey included Brown Falcon, Willie Wagtail, Welcome Swallow and Rose Robin. The total number of species recorded over the 19 surveys now stands at 58.

Apart from the four years after the 2003 fires, the Camel Back Trail has always recorded the greatest number of Lyrebirds. Of interest is that it is now becoming obvious to the casual observer that the understory along this trail is starting to thin out, probably a natural progression of habitat regeneration after the 2003 fires. What effect this will have on Lyrebird counts is unknown. A result of this thinning was that on the second survey of the trail a Lyrebird could be observed and recorded for a period of 20 minutes in full display, a sight not seen previously.



Back to Past Events