For many years, the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club has participated in Birdlife Australia’s annual Challenge Count. This always takes place across the country on the first weekend in December – which is not a convenient time of the year with so many other competing end-of-year activities. But it has also been the same weekend for decades, which allows a good comparison with the results from previous participations. In 2017, this will allow us to record birds for a 24 hour period on or around the 2nd and 3rd December.
The aim is to document as many bird species as possible, and the also numbers of individuals, within a 25km radius of central Castlemaine within a single calendar day. Whether a species is actively breeding (e.g. sitting on nest, feeding nestlings, taking food to a hollow) is also documented. For a bird to be officially recorded on the team list, it must be accurately identified by at least two people by sight or by at least three people if it is heard only.
In 2016, Castlemaine’s overall team was made up of 5 separate groups which mostly ranged in size from three to five people, but with one group organised by Connecting Country containing more than 15. There is no maximum group size, but having at least three is very helpful. The five groups were dispersed in all directions across the district. So far we have six groups prepared to go in 2017.
The results from the Castlemaine teams going back to 2011 are summarised below. (Many earlier years are not recorded here).
You don’t need to be a birding expert, as you can be paired with a group that has at least one specialist. It’s always a lot of fun, a chance to see some different local birding hotspots, add to the local knowledge and also learn a bit more about our feathered friends. For more info or to express interest in being in a group, feel free to contact Chris before 30 November (firstname.lastname@example.org). We also have a few locations that are not currently being covered if you have a new group to be involved. We can also accept records from counts undertaken during your morning walk or from your backyard (as long as the birds were seen by 2 or more people, or heard by 3 or more people).
Challenge Count results from the Castlemaine team over recent years
|Year||# bird species||# individual birds|