Bird Log and Beyond
For those of you who are lucky enough to have stayed a night at the BBO will be familiar with Bird Log. An institution unto itself, Bird Log has been going as long as the Observatory, spanning three decades and responsible for the collection of the daily birding data.
For the uninitiated, Bird Log is held at 6:30 pm each night in the Shadehouse, and all are welcome. Once the laptop is open and the Birds of the Broome Region List is in place there is an unspoken (usually...) cue for dish-washing to be placed on hold and the Shadehouse ceiling fans to be dialed down to 1. The staff will read out birds from the list and guests contribute with the location they saw that species, the ‘catchment’ area is within 70 km of the Observatory.
A standard day, without much active birding and perhaps one tour having had run will usually generate around 70 species. Add a couple of tours and some keen birders who’ve traveled a bit further afield and the total can top 120 species. A sceptical warden may request a photo for ID proof- please do not be offended this is all in the name of keeping our data as accurate as possible!
Perhaps the most important function of Bird Log is the opportunity to meet other birders, staff and fellow guests, become familiar with the species you can expect to see around the Observatory and have a chat! We really enjoy Bird log as it’s a great way to introduce newcomers to the Observatory and involve people who are beginning birders.
As valuable as Bird Log data is, BBO staff have begun additional surveys with the aim to produce regular, robust data sets that are replicated throughout the year. After discussions with Andrew Silcocks, BirdLife Australia’s Atlas and Birdata Project Manager, we have produced regular survey routes around the Observatory grounds and surrounding areas. Our ‘Obs Survey’ is our most frequently completed survey with each staff rostered on to do this survey weekly. That’s 4 data sets produced each week.
How do we record the data?
By using Birdata (of course!) BirdLife’s Birdata app is an easy to use repository of birding data. We simply select the General Bird Survey option and from there complete a 20 minute 2 ha survey of the Observatory grounds. We record every bird we see and hear and entered directly into the app- fortunately no mobile signal required!
Where is our survey area?
We have a few fixed route surveys ranging from the mangroves near Little Crab Creek to the woodland and plains alongside the BBO. The Obs survey starts at the office, winds down passed the loos and meanders through the campsite, stopping at the Shadehouse bird baths and continuing past the Warden’s house and finishing in a loop back at the office.
Can you get involved?
Of course! Birdata is available on smart phones and tablets so you can add a bird survey to your own Birdata list using BBO as the location. Alternatively, you can complete a ‘Birds in Backyards’ survey sheet that we have available in the Shadehouse. Next time you’re having a cup of tea in the Shadehouse, grab a survey sheet and have a go. Hand it into the office and we’ll enter it into our data sets.
It doesn’t matter how common the birds you’re recording are- everything contributes to create a powerful display of trends in the bird species around the BBO. This helps us with decision making, having updated and accurate information for guests and providing the best birding opportunities we can!