‘Rare’ songbird whistles into Darwin

30-Nov-2015

Students captured images of the rufous songlark with camera traps. Photographer: David Cook Wildlife Photography

Students captured images of the rufous songlark with camera traps. Photographer: David Cook Wildlife Photography


A native songbird rarely seen in the Darwin region has been sighted by a team including Charles Darwin University researchers and students.

Diploma of Conservation and Land Management students assisted in capturing images of the rufous songlark in the Territory Wildlife Park with camera traps, as part of their studies.

CDU Vocational Education and Training lecturer Andrew Spiers said he was surprised the bird was sighted in the park, a forest and sand-plain heath area with dense canopy, as it was commonly found in grasslands and flood plains.

“It made me jump when I first saw it,” Mr Spiers said.

“It seems from this sighting that they spend at least some time moving through much more dense vegetation than has been observed previously.”

Mr Spiers said the bird was regularly seen from Mataranka southward, but he suspected the recent dry weather brought about by an El Nino event had attracted it further north.

He said the bird was fairly discreet while visiting the Top End, as opposed to when it migrated south over summer to breed and the males performed their songs and display flights.

A white flowering tree native to the Northern Territory, known as Gardenia resinosa, was also recorded in the park for the first time during the flora and fauna survey.

Conservation Land Management lecturer Samantha Saynor said more than 50 species of birds and mammals were identified during the 35-day camera and four-night cage trapping surveys, including an echidna.

Ms Saynor said data collected by the students would assist the park in monitoring its various flora and fauna.

Territory Wildlife Park’s Biodiversity Liaison Officer Sarah Hirst and Assistant Curator Damien Stanioch assisted in the survey, which CDU students have been assisting with since 2011.

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