Building habitat for birds

Nankeen Night Heron. One of the most unusual sightings at the Oxbow. Photo by Drew Sansness.

Seasonal surveys by Birdlife Southern Queensland.

Sponsored by the Bulimba Creek Environment Fund.

We are proposing to Sponsor Year 2 of a 3-year program from the Bulimba Creek Environment Fund – for 2021 – 2022 financial year!

Early in 2020 it was decided to sponsor a program to use bird surveys to see if rehabilitation projects have positive effects on biodiversity, using birdlife as the key indicator.

After the initial year of four seasonal surveys, we now have some important and interesting results to share.

The big news is that Environmental Rehabilitation and Habitat Creation = Biodiversity health.

The three areas chosen were all in the lower catchment of Bulimba Creek, had been highly degraded by industrial use in the past and were rescued  from their degradation and obscurity by B4C and its funding partners.

Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Drew Sansness.
Project sites and details

THE BULIMBA CREEK OXBOW at Hemmant (Rehabilitation started 2000). Currently unfunded.

AQUARIUM PASSAGE – GIBSON ISLAND at Murarrie (Rehabilitation started in early 2018 and is active now)

INGHAM’S FACILITY at Doboy Wetlands (Rehabilitation started in 2018 and active now)

The surveys were held over the four seasons and a yearly report for each was prepared by the highly professional and well-regarded Birdlife Southern Queensland. The findings showed increases in bird numbers and importantly bird species numbers increase. The standout was Ingham’s Doboy Wetlands where, in its initial year, had the astonishing statistics of a 126.5% increase in bird abundance and a 112.5% increase in species observed. This increase was from a “Ground Zero” situation where the eight water retention ponds were excavated back to bare earth, providing a dramatic baseline to survey from.

The Bulimba Creek Oxbow has been rehabilitated since 2000 and no baseline studies were available. Therefore percentage increases were unable to be stated. But the following years will tell the story here.

Gibson Island (Aquarium Passage) is the initial Industrial Landcare site in Brisbane and started in early 2018. So the surveys had a good baseline and the increases in bird numbers increased by 67.8% and bird species increased 15.8% over the initial 12 month study period. This is an interesting site, with a history including a Leper Colony, graveyard and a highly weed infested riparian zone languishing for many years. The rehabilitation has been varied here, because of constraints for powerlines and a gas pipeline (affecting plant size and heights). This has led to a low shrub, grassy rehabilitation, in part and the outcome is that small birds are flourishing with Superb Fairy Wrens, Chestnut Breasted Mannikins, Double Bar Finches, Willy Wagtail and other small birds colonizing this new and suitable habitat. This is good news, as small woodland birds are decreasing in many urban and even rural areas, due to loss of suitable habitat and being out-competed by common and predatory species – Noisy Minor, Magpies, Butcher Birds, Crows and now Currawongs.

So it is a unique site, separating industry from an estuary that is showing that collaboration with industry can achieve multiple environmental and social outcomes.

Oxbow63121741443N/AN/A21 years since Rehabilitation
Ingham’s (Doboy)7111774510 112.5%126.5%1 year since rehabilitation
Gibson Island35498    15.8%67.8%>1 year since rehabilitation

Bulimba Creek Oxbow Wetlands

The Oxbow – Project started in 2000. Photo shows early recovery. Two species of fish increased to 37 by 2011. Industrial wasteland in 2000 to fish nursery and recovered ecosystems in 2021.

Ingham’s – Doboy Wetlands

Ingham’s facility at Doboy Wetlands, started 2018. Old piggery ponds excavated for integrated water quality treatment. Rehabilitation of eight large ponds is providing wetlands of regional significance and providing clean fresh water in times of drought.
Female Variegated Wren

Plans are progressing for a new tree corridor at Inghams, to link a woodlot to Council land to the south.

We have also made the provision of native water lilies for selected areas of ponds and expanding use of semi-aquatic revegetation around around the eight ponds. Yabbies have also been released in 2020 and biodiversity is increasing as vegetation establishes gradually.

Rufus Fantail

Gibson Island, Aquarium Passage

Superb Fairy Wrens nesting in woodpiles.
Whitling Kite, frequents Aquarium Passage

Other species of note – Mangrove Gerygone, Mistletoebird, White-browed Scrubwren, Striated Pardalote, Double Bar Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Fairy Martin, Willy Wagtail, Rainbow Bee-eater, Scarlet Honeyeater – the small birds have it!

Compiled by Wayne Cameron, B4C Catchment Manager.

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