Challenge Bird Count 2023

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club members have been involved in the Annual Challenge Bird Count for more than 20 years, and 2023 was no exception. 

This event is overseen by BirdLife Australia, but relies on local coordination.  In essence, this fun event – and supposedly non-competitive – involves people from across Australia attempting to detect as many birds as possible during a single day from within their local area, in or around the first weekend in December.  For the Castlemaine area, the sightings must be made within a 25km radius of the central township.  And for a bird to be a legitimate record, it must be either seen by 2 or more people, or heard by 3 or more people. 

There were three groups representing Castlemaine in 2023.  Kerrie Jennings and I covered areas around Baringhup and to the west of Tarrengower.  Geraldine Harris led a team of three through a range of locations around Barkers Creek, Harcourt and eastern Muckleford.  Sue Boekel – a member of BirdLife Castlemaine – led a team of three across a range of sites from Malmsbury to Maldon.

In summary, 1575 individual birds were recorded from 108 different species.  Some of the highlights included a single Sharp-tailed Sandpiper on a farm dam in Baringhup, a Black-tailed Native-hen in Muckleford, two Intermediate Egrets in the Harcourt area, 43 White-browed Woodswallows around Barkers Ck and Muckleford, and a Square-tailed Kite in Muckleford area.

By comparison, the numbers detected in recent years are shown in the first table below while the second table shows what was seen this year.

YearNo. of individual birdsNo. of species
2020, 2021Cancelled due to COVID 
Common NameNumber detectedCommon NameNumber detected
Australasian Darter1Little Pied Cormorant6
Australasian Grebe11Little Raven51
Australasian Pipit2Long-billed Corella178
Australian Magpie63Magpie-lark28
Australian Raven1Masked Lapwing22
Australian Reed-Warbler4Mistletoebird2
Australian White Ibis3Musk Duck1
Australian Wood Duck107Musk Lorikeet44
Black Kite1New Holland Honeyeater16
Black Swan5Noisy Miner12
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike7Olive-backed Oriole3
Black-fronted Dotterel4Pacific Black Duck20
Black-shouldered Kite2Peaceful Dove4
Black-tailed Native-hen1Pied Cormorant9
Brown Falcon2Pied Currawong1
Brown Goshawk1Purple Swamphen2
Brown Thornbill8Rainbow Bee-eater4
Brown Treecreeper9Rainbow Lorikeet1
Brown-headed Honeyeater3Red Wattlebird31
Chestnut Teal5Red-browed Finch17
Collared Sparrowhawk1Red-rumped Parrot45
Common Blackbird7Rufous Songlark2
Common Bronzewing6Rufous Whistler5
Common Myna11Sacred Kingfisher1
Common Starling51Scarlet Robin1
Crested Pigeon7Sharp-tailed Sandpiper1
Crested Shrike-tit1Silvereye4
Crimson Rosella20Spotted Pardalote4
Dusky Moorhen19Square-tailed Kite1
Dusky Woodswallow17Straw-necked Ibis6
Eastern Rosella24Striated Pardalote7
Eastern Spinebill2Striated Thornbill3
Eastern Yellow Robin1Sulphur-crested Cockatoo21
Eurasian Coot37Superb Fairy-wren38
European Goldfinch1Tree Martin5
Fairy Martin13Wedge-tailed Eagle2
Fuscous Honeyeater27Weebill6
Galah72Welcome Swallow20
Great Cormorant19Whistling Kite4
Great Egret1White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike2
Grey Currawong2White-browed Babbler17
Grey Fantail3White-browed Scrubwren2
Grey Shrike-thrush19White-browed Woodswallow43
Grey Teal12White-faced Heron9
Hardhead4White-naped Honeyeater26
Hoary-headed Grebe30White-necked Heron4
Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo2White-plumed Honeyeater18
House Sparrow7White-throated Treecreeper7
Intermediate Egret2White-winged Chough91
Jacky Winter2White-winged Triller2
Laughing Kookaburra5Willie Wagtail27
Little Black Cormorant6Yellow-faced Honeyeater2
Little Corella8Yellow-rumped Thornbill14
Little Eagle1Yellow-tufted Honeyeater2

Keep this event in your diary for the weekend of 30 November-1 December 2024.  Surely we can beat the high-water mark of 2019.