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It’s the citizens that count

November 11, 2016

Science is expensive – research, clinical trials, collecting data. The trend in recent times has been to involve the general public. Across the country there are thousands of people only too happy to help, particularly with data collection.

1-dscn1234The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is one of those activities. Participants are asked to sit for 20 minutes and record the bird species they observe. It is run every year for a week in October. This year there were over 1.4 million bird records submitted. The cost of privately funding that type of data collection would be prohibitive.

Not only is sitting still for 20 minutes a nice contemplative practice but in that time the birds seem to either not realise or they forget that you are there. This can afford an opportunity to observe them in greater detail, particularly those birds which are particularly flighty and take off as soon as you appear. In my garden one such bird is the New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae). Looking like a cross between a Collingwood and a Richmond supporter (in colour that is), the New Hollands are very active birds and are easily spooked. As their name suggests these honeyeaters feed on nectar and spend their time flitting between flowering bushes.

Another citizen science project coming up next week is the Spring Wild Pollinator Count held between 13 & 20 November 2016. With a similar format to the Bird Count, people are asked to observe a flower for 10 minutes and record what pollinators come to visit it.

When one thinks of pollination the Honey Bee immediately comes to mind but you would be amazed at the variety of fauna that fulfil this function – many species of insects, birds and even animals.

This week I have been ‘warming-up’ to the task. Pictured are a couple of pollinators around at the moment.

So next week spend 10 minutes watching a flower. It might surprise you what turns up.

Wild Pollinator Count

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