'Greenway site

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oconnore51
oconnore51's picture
'Greenway site

There is a 'Greenway' between a few suburbs in Inner West Sydney, running along a storm water canal that i have often visited learning a lot as a beginner bird watcher.  It is kept up by the Councils and a number of bush care sites.  Recently the council did a lot of work, improving paths, lighting etc and they took out a number of trees and weeds.  Since then a I have seen a far fewer small birds in the area, the Fairy Wrens, Scrub Wrens, and others.  And I don't know if it is connected, but a lot more of the Red Whiskered Bulbul.  I used to see it amongst all the other smaller birds, and now is is just on its own and in greater numbers.

Hopefully the weeds will grow back and the council will again forget about the area!  (not that the council has done such a bad job in the past, creating the area and the bush care sites, just should have been more aware now).

Woko
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Hi oconnore. A lot depends on which tree & "weed" species were removed. While some exotics provide habitat for small birds there is no substitute for the original, indigenous vegetation for attracting a diversity of native birds, especially if there are corridors linking the vegetation to good quality bushland.

If the removed trees & "weeds" were exotic species then there may well be room for the regeneration &, maybe, revegetation of the new spaces with indigenous species. All may not be lost but as you imply, sometimes it's better to do nothing than to "improve" things. A lot depends on the site & the existing vegetation.  

That said, I'd be inclined to place more faith in a bushcare group to improve habitat quality than a local council. Lots of disturbance can be created by councils, generally not known for their environmental sensitivity, putting in paths, lighting, formal seats etc. - works that interfere with natural processes.

oconnore51
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Thanks Woko, it is interesting, there are a number of different groups and users of the area. I am still curious about the quite marked increase in the Red Bulbul.

elizabeth

Woko
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As a general rule I'd say that an increase in feral bird numbers is related to natural habitat disturbance so that the new habitat favors the ferals. I know little about Red-whiskered Bulbuls but it may be a species which prefers more open spaces such as created by council when trees & weeds were removed. 

GregL
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In my area weeds are important habitat for small birds,and also food source. Sweetbriar, blackberry, hawthorn are good protection for nests being dense and prickly. Grasses,daisies and dock provide seeds that are eaten by finches etc. Weeds are pioneer species which colonise disturbed areas, they are a very important part of ecological successions. When we remove weeds we often disturb the land and restart the succession process.

Woko
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Best weed removal occurs when indigenous plants replace the weeds either though revegetation or, preferably, regeneration from adjacent indigenous vegetation. 

timmo
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From my observations, Fairy Wrens, Scrub wrens and similar ground-foraging small birds seem to love thick long grass and/or dense shrubs of at least 1m high, regardless of the species (native/exotic/weed). Removing that type of habitat seems to reduce their numbers, in the immediate vicinity at least. 

Cheers
Tim
Brisbane

oconnore51
oconnore51's picture

Yes i forget that the Red whiskered Bulbul is an introduced species. I used to see it with a lot of small native birds, but not any more so yes maybe the habitat now favours that bird, Woko.  It also happened very quickly.  The planting by the council was a very poor selection.

elizabeth

Woko
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Removing exotic habitat of any kind needs to be done judiciously. There's not much point in depriving native birds of exotic habitat before it is replaced by the real thing. To do so almost certainly means a reduction in native bird species populations which means less native birds to repopulate the recovering areas.

Elizabeth, have you discussed your observations with the council?

oconnore51
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There are people doing a fantastic job at bush care sites that are quite separate from the council Woko, i plan on joining them in the future i think.

elizabeth

Woko
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That's bound to be a very helpful move, Elizabeth. It's often difficult getting councils to take good action on the environment so going elsewhere is usually a more productive approach. 

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