News | Diary

Ozcranes News has the latest from our four sections (Info, Research, Australia-New Guinea Cranes and Conservation). Our Diary lists crane-related events plus Natural Resource Management meetings in the Northern Gulf Region, which includes the main known Australian breeding area for Sarus Cranes. Sightings projects are a great indicator of advancing community input towards work on Australian cranes.

Please contact us with your news items and events for the Diary.

Atherton Tablelands updates

The BirdLife North Queensland 2016 Crane Count on 3 September recorded close to usual numbers, including a strong component of identified Brolgas. But where many cranes were feeding – especially Sarus – remains a mystery. Both incidental and formal daytime field counts this year reported far fewer birds than the 3 September roost count, with incidental records showing a majority of Brolgas in feeding flocks: a rare result since Sarus became the dominant wintering crane species on the Atherton Tablelands sometime prior to 1997.

Sarus and crocodiles (Tim Nevard)

Sarus and crocs

Tim Nevard gave a fascinating talk for BirdLife NQ on 24 November, on his PhD study into Sarus Crane and Brolga interactions in northern Australia. Tim has more than 60,000 field observations from 2 years' field work, as well as significant genetic analysis with international collaborators. He is also exploring community responses to cranes, including farmers with potential crop damage issues, and opportunities for tourism. (The crocodiles pictured are Australian freshwater crocodiles, or Johnstone's crocodile, but Estuarine Crocodiles which occur in Gulf of Carpentaria Sarus breeding areas are potentially a threat to both cranes and researchers!)

Brolga genetics study

The Melbourne University and Glenelg Nature Trust Brolga genetics study has issued its public report for the end of Stage 1, covering broad results for comparisons of northern and southern Brolga populations. The publication titled ‘The development of microsatellite loci through next generation sequencing, and a preliminary assessment of population genetic structure for the iconic Australian crane, Brolga (Antigone rubicunda’) can be downloaded from the Nature Glenelg website (pdf 1.43MB). Detailed work is to follow, for information and donation appeal visit the site.

Mt Burr Swamp Appeal Success

Mt Burr Swamp

Mt Burr Swamp (Nature Glenelg Trust) →

Nature Glenelg Trust has just announced complete success to cover the whole purchase price for Mt Burr Swamp, to restore habitat for the SW Victoria/SE South Australia Brolga population, and other significant species including Australasian Bittern.The Trust is hoping to achieve the same success as the restoration of Pick Swamp, part of the Piccaninnie Ponds RAMSAR site. For more information visit the website or phone the project office on (61)8 8797 8596.

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas

Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are moving to a new stage, with biodiversity for both birds and other biota recognised in the new concept of ‘Key Biodiversity Areas’ or KBAs. FAQs on this important development are explained at BirdLife Australia. Golo Maurer, BirdLife manager for the Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) Program, also regularly updates the Facebook page. For more on the Australian IBAs important for Brolgas and Sarus Cranes, visit Ozcranes IBA page.

Crane taxonomy: Grus or Antigone?

BirdLife International has accepted a new taxonomy transferring Brolga and Sarus Crane into the genus Antigone, in lieu of Grus, and also recognises three subspecies for Sarus (or four, with the presumed extinct Philippines Sarus).

Reference: del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) maintains Grus on the basis of genetic studies, and all genetic work to date shows no separate subspecies for Sarus. For the time being Ozcranes will continue to use Grus without subspecies for Sarus, but most formal literature is likely to use the new forms.

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Please Email us to post your project or event in the Diary.

Counts: Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands Crane Count is held on the first Saturday of September each year. Visit BirdLife Northern Queensland or email the Crane Count Co-ordinator )(Virginia Simmonds 07 4095 8302).

Counts: Brolgas, Victoria

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning conducts annual Brolga surveys in western Victoria, reports and results can be viewed on the SWIFFT website.

Events, north Qld: Northern Gulf Resource Management Group

Events: Brolgas, Victoria

BirdLife Ballarat

Brolga Recovery Group

Sighting reports

Birdata and eBird

The new Birdata site is up and running. You can join the ongoing Atlas of Australian Birds and report flock counts of cranes in Australia, or explore data through a filtered map search. Three species are recognised – Brolga, Sarus Crane, and Crane Species (Unidentified: Atlas No. 2520) to ensure full flock counts. Flock counting provides more valuable data on distribution, species associations and movements than simple presence-absence records. Sightings can also be contributed through Eremaea eBird which shows regular sightings through searchable maps.

Some key sites suggested for full flock Atlassing are:

Queensland sightings

Please report range extensions for the State of Queensland, to the Birds Queensland Sightings Page.

Northern Brolga-Sarus PhD

Report banded birds and possible hybrid sightings to Tim Nevard or write to PO Box 809 Ravenshoe, Queensland, Australia 4888.

Brolga Study, SW Victoria

Report sightings of banded Brolgas to Inka Veltheim.

BRG Brolga sightings

The Brolga Recovery Group accepts sightings for western Victoria/ SE South Australia, via their Website, which also hosts a gallery of Brolga photos, contributions welcome.

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