Saturday, 3 May 2014

Cocky Count

I participated in the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Recovery Project annual count today. The South Eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo sub-species occurs only in SE South Australia and SW Victoria. With an estimated population of approx. 1400 birds it is in danger of extinction.

Except for the short period of the year when Buloke is fruiting (Jan-Mar), Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos feed almost exclusively on stringybark fruits, so the search concentrated on areas of stringybark forest. My allocated search area was a patchy area of stringybark forest, river red gum woodland and swampy grassland in SW Victoria north of Casterton and west of Dergholm.

Track through Stringybark
Remnant Stringybark forest on farmland
River Red Gum woodland

The cockatoos can most easily be found by listening for their characteristic calls and searching for evidence of feeding on the ground - the birds tear off leaves and small branches, chew the fruit then drop the remains on the ground.

Signs of Red-tailed Black Cockatoo feeding

I did manage to find two small flocks during the nearly 6 hours and 67.5 km of searching the tracks. Not a great shot but the primary purpose was to find and count the birds not photograph them. These were part of a flock of 16 birds.

Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Dergholm Forest

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