From the perspective of the Sunshine Coast I'm optimistic that in future we can do more as a group to promote birds and birding, encourage members of the public to appreciate their backyard birds and perhaps try our hobby and ultimately add their voice to the chorus encouraging Bird Conservation and become members of Birdlife Australia.
Our efforts this year have been mixed.
On the positive side hopefully many people around the coast have completed bird count in their backyards. Many of my friends and collegues and students have assured me that they would complete their backyard surveys - with many 'looking to identify birds' for the first time!
School students at Mapleton State School [my kid's school] have been actively birding their grounds over the last week aided by the 'Backyard Birds of the Sunshine Coast' and the Z-cards [which has colour photographs of some 80 odd species of birds] - both published by Birdlife Australia - SE Qld, the latter also with the generous additional suppport of Sunshine Coast Council. Mapleton SS deserves praise for their participation in Bird Week but also their emphasis on outside play and environmental education. This from their Principal Jenny Clarke latest newsletter;
'In response to our growing concern about the lack of opportunities for children to experience nature, we have dedicated Thursday lunch breaks as a time for everyone to play down at Baxter Creek. The reward for the staff members who have volunteered to spend their lunch break at the Creek is to see the children having a wonderful time exploring the natural environment.
As this week is Bird Week, most of the classes have taken the time to spend a lesson bird watching. In half an hour, the Year 1s spotted or heard 20 birds in our school grounds. This activity promotes awareness of our environment, concentration, visual acuity, listening skills and the data collected can be used in a Math lesson.
The school has been successful in gaining a Sunshine Coast Regional Council Environmental Levy Grant to remove a patch of weeds in the bed of Baxter Creek. The work will be done during the growing season later in the summer. '
Simarly students at Kenilworth State Community College have been enjoying birding with many students eagerly bringing in their records from their own backyards.
Also on a positive we held several Bird Walks around the Sunshine Coast for folks to try birding. Special thanks to John Malings, Russ Lamb, Bernie Collins, Mike Haddrall and Robyn and Geoff Combes for hosting such walks. Summaries of the walks will appear as a separate feature.
A special thanks to John Malings who tried hard to publicise such events on our behalf though the media; even turning himself into a reluctant radio star in the event! I'm yet to hear from all however the attendance at these walks are best described as mixed. To some extent the poor attendance can be blamed on a very late publicty attempt [or very little or no publicity] caused by the very late arrival of publicity materials from our main Melbourne office. Hopefully in future this problem will be overcome.
Another disappointment was the lack of response from the majority of Schools on the Sunshine Coast. I emailed every administration of every state primary school on the coast advertising the Count however I receieved not a single response. Again, perhaps earlier, availability of publicity materials could have provided more advance warning.
In summary though I'm optimistic that the Bird Count can be used in future, to be an important event to encourage birding here on the Coast specifically and more generally everywhere in our nation and thus become an important fixed date in our calendar.
Comments are very welcome!!