The DBG joined with the recently formed Friends of Mount Hallowell to undertake an informal bird survey of the southern part of the reserve. An impressive 30 people assembled at the start of the Sheila Hill Trail on a chilly Sunday morning, Kirsty briefed the group on the objectives of the morning and some birding etiquette, before setting-off. It wasn’t long before we saw our first bird – a beautiful group of Varied Sittellas, not a commonly seen bird in the reserve, foraging on the bark of jarrah and marri in their preferred direction – from top to bottom.
One of the objectives of the morning was to raise awareness of our Black Cockatoos, which are all under threat from habitat loss. There are three species, all present in Mount Hallowell; Baudin’s Black Cockatoo, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo and the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, even if they are not seen, their former presence can be detected from discarded Marri-nut husks. They each leave a unique signature of damage to the nuts as they seek to extract the seeds. We soon found evidence of Baudin’s feeding on the nuts – they cause the least damage as there long pointed bill is the ideal tool for extracting the seeds.
There were plenty of Purple-crowned Lorikeets screeching overhead as they flew manically over the trees, searching out Karri blossom and investigating potential nesting hollows. As we moved back through the reserve to the east, a Hobby Falcon was spotted high up on a dead limb perhaps feeding on a bird – again another unusual sighting.
We returned to the Fire Station for morning tea and Kirsty went through a slide show on how to identify Black Cockatoos. The bird species were tallied and a total of 18 species were seen, which was good for a large group in difficult birding habitat.