Last month, the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s Coast Guardians from Geelong Lutheran College took part in the “Aussie Backyard Bird Count”, an annual citizen science project now in its sixth year run by BirdLife Australia.
Students learned to identify a few common species before the tally and used bird ID books, binoculars and the app field guide to identify as many birds as they could in a 20-minute period. With iPads in hand, ears and eyes ready to get twitching, students worked in groups to log their bird sightings into the app.
The Coast Guardians submitted a total of 11 checklists, identifying 25 different species between the Gap and the wetlands in Torquay. Geelong Lutheran College has helped to make this location a great area of biodiversity with the revegetation of the Whites Gap car park area over a seven-year period participating in the Coast Guardians program.
The most common sighted bird at this location was the Welcome Swallow as there were a lot of insects buzzing around for them to snack on. The Red Wattlebird and New Holland Honeyeater were also in abundance. One special bird we were pleased to see was the Yellow-rumped Thornbill feeding on the ground beneath the bushes.
We discussed where the data went to and its value in assisting scientists to spot indicator birds for change, which were most common, and which are declining in numbers. The students were amazed at how many birds they could spot, once they had practice in getting their eye in. This was a great lesson in patience and well-being in nature. The students found it relaxing and were keen to do more surveys.
As of publication, the count for Australia was over 106,000 lists submitted and over 3.6 million birds sighted across 680 species. What a brilliant opportunity for Coast Guardians to participate in a community activity and contribute to science and understanding of nature! Thanks to the app, anybody can contribute as a citizen scientists at www.aussiebirdcount.org.au/submit-a-count/.
Learn more about the Coast Guardians program and how your local school can become involved in this immersive environmental education program for year 9 students at www.gorcc.com.au/education/.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is a State Government body responsible for protecting, enhancing, and developing coastal Crown land from Point Impossible to Cumberland River. All funds raised through the organisation’s commercial endeavours are reinvested back into the coast. Visit us at www.gorcc.com.au.