Birding at Herdsman Lake

Yesterday, my Dad and I went for a birdwatch around Herdsman’s Lake as part of our Fathers Day get together.  Herdsman Lake is one of the places I’ve often visited with him for our birding sessions.  You can see some of our records from Herdsman’s Lake here, in the Digital Birding Database (the precursor to Earth 2.0).

I decided that I wouldn’t entertain my OCD personality traits for the morning, and instead of recording everything, I would just enjoy wandering around the lake, and see what I would see.  I left my mobile phone (with my data entry packages on it) in my pocket the whole time and just enjoyed looking at the variety of birds around the Lake on a cold, but clear Sunday morning.  I didn’t even take a camera (which as usual, had me wishing I did).

Usually, when I am surveying birds I am rushing to try to count them all and record as many as possible.  I don’t tend to spend a lot of time watching the birds go about their thing, but am quickly scanning and recognizing them for recording purposes.  As a result of forgetting about recording, I got to see behaviors that I’d forgotten about, like seeing a male Musk Duck displaying aggressive territorial behavior – sitting really low in the water, and sneaking up on a rival to scare him off.  As well as that, it was also a real treat to really look at the birds rather than just catalog them – the delicate way that the Red-capped Plover wandered about on the vacant housing lots, or the coloration that the male Australasian Shovellers display, or the upturned ‘fingers’ on a Swamp Harrier, all brought me a kind of joy I’d forgotten about for a bit too long.

One of the reasons we also chose Herdsman’s Lake for the morning was that I am going to be helping Rio Tinto lead their Perth birdwatching event.  This is part of their international partnership with BirdLife International, and something I’ve been involved with for a few years -  volunteering my time to help out.  So it was a good recon trip to see what is around in the lake –it was also the highest water level I’ve seen for a long time, so the birds were pretty sparse.  Hopefully by early November when we run the event, it will be good weather, and the birds will be back in the deeper water at the edge and easier to see.

The second thing that was an important outcome was that once again, I was reminded of just how important a good, solid, and more importantly, easy to use (i.e. quick) interface for data collection needs to be.  In the past, some of the pilot software we tried have been a real struggle to work with– so this is a lesson that we’ll take on board with our current redevelopment of Earth 2.0 that Tom, Anthony and Ryan are starting to plan out.  I’m looking forward to testing that out on my surveys in the future – any excuse to go and do more birding is fine with me!

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