Annual bird count ready to take flight in Lake Mac

Lake Macquarie City Council

Maya Guest with granddaughter Ellie, 2, spotting birds on her Warners Bay property.jpg

Eagle-eyed wildlife lovers are being urged to flock to back yards across Lake Mac next week to help get a handle on what avian species call the city home.

The annual Aussie Bird Count kicks off on Monday, with participants recording the number and type of birds they spot in any 20-minute period until Sunday 23 October in their back yard or other open space.

Lake Macquarie City Council Sustainability Engagement Officer Margo Smith said the count was Australia’s largest citizen science project.

More than 106,000 people nationwide counted almost five million birds during last year’s instalment.

“We had almost 1000 participants in Lake Mac last year, which reflects how passionate people in our community are about the environment generally, and bird-life specifically,” she said.

Of the 55,000-plus birds tallied in Lake Macquarie during last year’s count, the rainbow lorikeet, noisy miner, Australian magpie, sulphur-crested cockatoo and eastern rosella were most commonly spotted.

“These five species made up the vast majority of birds counted last year, but we had more than 170 species identified across the week in Lake Mac,” Ms Smith said.

“We’re hoping to count even more this year. We have such a diversity of habitats in our city with its coastal environment on one side, mountains on the other and the lake in between, so it really is a fantastic place for birdwatching.”

While fully fledged birdwatchers, also known as ‘twitchers’, are sure to take a perch for this year’s count, even rank amateurs are encouraged to participate.

BirdLife Australia spokesman Sean Dooley said people of all ages could take part, with an accompanying Aussie Bird Count app helping identify more unusual species.

“It can be done from anywhere – a suburban back yard, a local park, a patch of forest, down by the beach or the main street of town,” he said.

Warners Bay bird enthusiast Maya Guest said she was looking forward to taking part in the count in her verdant back yard, where magpies, kookaburras, currawongs, tawny frogmouths and eastern whipbirds are among the species that forage, nest and thrive.

“The work that I do in the garden – it’s for the birds,” she said.

“The forest is special, but if there weren’t any animals, you wouldn’t get that same sense out here.”

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