These abstracts (summaries) for two posters presented at the Australasian Ornithological Conference in 2001 are both connected with pioneer north Queensland ornithologist, the late J A Bravery (1896-1975). Poster 1: The bird fauna at Pelican Point, where Bravery first recorded Sarus Cranes on the Atherton Tableland, has changed in response to removal of cattle and part revegetation of the site. Poster 2: An overall review of Atherton Shire avifauna compared with Bravery's baseline 1970 article, lists Sarus Crane as an ‘increaser’ species, and Brolga as a ‘decreaser’.
Original bird paintings (Bravery poster) by artist Jenny Holmes. Both posters are A1 size (594mm x 841mm), designed and produced by cranesnorth with support from QPWS.
Elinor Scambler: Tableland ornithologist, with TREAT (Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tableland Inc)
Title And there's more: Community bird monitoring at the Pelican Point Revegetation Project, far north Queensland, 1992-2001
Abstract The Pelican Point Revegetation Project, on the Atherton Tableland, far north Queensland (17), was initiated by TREAT (Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tableland Inc) in co-operation with other NGOs and government agencies in 1992. Located on 20 ha of formerly-grazed public land on the shore of Tinaroo Dam, it was designed to demonstrate a range of revegetation options and to provide opportunities for nature-based recreation, studies and education in a habitat mosaic of woodland and rainforest tree plantings, pasture, and weedy sedge/ shoreline.
The initial suite of 52 bird species (May, 1992) was typical of local pasture, matrix sites and water impoundments. This has expanded to 184 including many woodland birds from February 1994, plus some rainforest species from mid-1996. Records from 96 x 20-minute area searches by TREAT and Birds Australia members since January 1994 show overall species richness has been consistent over time, fluctuating seasonally, but species composition and richness within habitats have changed. Declining richness in pasture corresponds with the increase recorded in maturing planted sites. Fewer species in the edge zone, plus increasing waterbird usage of the peninsula including Cotton Pygmy-Geese and Comb-crested Jacanas with young and flocks of over 2,000 feeding Little Black Cormorants, are associated with submergence of the edge and expanding aquatic fringing vegetation due to higher dam levels since 1998. Birdlife Australia Northern Queensland surveys from 1997 have confirmed Pelican Point as a regular roost site for wintering Sarus Cranes on the Atherton Tableland. [See note]
Pelican Point is one of the first revegetation projects in Australia to be monitored by a community group for changing biodiversity, including birds, small mammals and plant phenology, and TREAT has obtained Natural Heritage Trust funding to publish monitoring results in both scientific and broader public media.
Follow up note
[NOTE] Changes at Pelican Point have changed its suitability as a crane roost. The revegetated plots are not in themselves a deterrent to Sarus Crane use of the site. However once grazing was withdrawn – without slashing or other maintenance of the unplanted sections – long pasture grass and weeds covered these areas. Cranes need shallow water clear of dense vegetation, to roost. The Point shoreline is suitable when exposed by falling water levels in Lake Tinaroo, provided weedy vegetation does not regrow. More in Ozcranes Conservation ‘Goodbye Sarus?’»
Title Changing status of birds in Atherton Shire, north Queensland
Abstract James Andrew Bravery (1896-1975), soldier, athlete, farmer and amateur ornithologist, published his long-term observations of the birds of Atherton Shire, north Queensland, in the Emu (Bravery 1970). Comparison of his records to November 1969 with those obtained since December 1994 mainly by Holmes, shows that over twenty species in Atherton Shire have tangibly increased, and at least fifteen have decreased, in three decades. Increasers are associated with water bodies, agriculture and towns; decreasers mainly with riparian habitats, woodland and rainforest. This poster presentation offers a brief analysis of these changes and draws attention to possible causes, after a century of European settlement in this moist tropical tableland area. The role of community ornithology is also featured, in the centenary year of the RAOU (BirdLife Australia).
Reference Bravery, J. A. 1970, The birds of Atherton Shire, Queensland. Emu, 70, pp.49-64.