The Eungella Honeyeater Survey Begins . . .

Posted on Posted in feathered, North QLD

On the weekend most of the BIG crew headed out to Clarke Range west of Mackay to begin a survey of the endemic Eungella Honeyeater (EHE) (Lichenostomus hindwoodi).

Eungella Honeyeater (Lichenostomus hindwoodi). Photo by Trevor Quested

This survey is a repeat of the work done by the Mackay Bird Observers Club (MACBOCA) in 2000 and 2001. Ten years later, we are revisiting the same sites to see how the EHE’s are going.

We came to learn about the EHE through Marj, a local in the area forever, and birdwatcher extraordinarie who has been involved with the species since the 80’s when they were first described.

Marj has been concerned for some time that the EHE’s are just not where they used to be. There were certain spots where Marj could almost guarantee a EHE sighting 10 years ago but not anymore. And there is no long-term data or published reasearch that quantifies the population size or studies the species in any detail. It is not known if the population has changed over time or been affected by development, agriculture or natural events like cyclones.

EHE's have been observed feeding on the flowers of Climbing Pandan (Freycinetia excels)

Most of the knowledge about the species has been garnered by people like Marj. They have observed them feeding on the Climbing Pandan (Freycinetia excels) and noticed they tend to move out from rainforest to the drier open woodland in the winter months.

After a shaky start on Saturday, due largely to Dan’s buck show the previous night, we headed up to Eungella. A crisis was narrowly avoided with a pitstop at Pinnacle Pies. Once we got up the range we were confronted with torrential rain and impenetrable cloud, which is not entirely unexpected considering ‘Eungella’ is an aboriginal word meaning ‘mountains of the mist’.

So…day 1 of the EHE survey ended with a total of zero survey work done…but a rare sighting of a flock of Regent Bowerbirds (Sericulus chrysocephalus) saved the day. Jase got some amazing photos (but that’s for another blog entry, stay tuned).

Day 2 proved much more fruitful. With Marj and her famous ginger fruit slice on board we recorded EHE’s at 3 of our rainforest sites. They have quite a distinctive call, which is very helpful when birding in dense rainforest. It kind of reminds me of a grey butcherbird.

Let the survey begin (left), Marj explains what's what over some ginger fruit slice

The Clarke range is also home to some cool, endemic reptiles and frogs, which we will have to have a hunt around for on future trips. Our surveys will continue on a monthly basis throughout the year with the help of Marj and MACBOCA.

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8 thoughts on “The Eungella Honeyeater Survey Begins . . .

  1. It is great to see enthusiastic folk taking interest in the EHE. I’m sure re-surveying sites from 2000 & 2001 will be invaluable to learn if the species is in decline (which anicdontal evidence suggests), or is surviving well with similar population sizes as surveys in early 2000. Look forward to hearing about the fun, adventures and results of the ongoing surveys.

  2. Hey Guys,
    Adam and I are keen to help out. We have 0 experience but lots of enthusiasm. Adam is very good at finding lost golf balls does that count ?
    So anyway let me know when you are heading out again (if you need or want help) thanks JJ.

  3. Hi BIG Crew,
    Ron and I would love to come along and lend a hand if you’d like some more helpers.
    Please let us know if you’d like some extra hands on deck – we live in Airlie Beach.
    Cathi and Ron

    1. Thanks Cathi and Ron, we have enough volunteers at the moment but will be in touch if we need you in the future!

  4. I volunteered to drive Marj and Dan to Eungella to participate in the Eungella Honeyeater survey (Saturday 3rd) which coincided with the National Bird Count weekend. The miserable weather conditions hampered proceedings but we persevered until around midday getting a good number of species all up. The honeyeater was scarce although not all sites were visited. With the wet season now kicking in, this may turn out to be “typical” survey conditions, – so good luck!

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