Field testing the new app at QUT SERF, Camp Mountain

There was an error in our previous article published in the 22 July edition of The Village Pump. The 149th bird species seen feeding on the white fruit of Psychotria in zone P2 at the Eco-Corridor was a female Regent Bowerbird, which would have come down from Mt Glorious, not the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater, which is a nomadic woodland species that feeds mostly on nectar from eucalypts.

Some readers may have noticed that the wooden Eco-Corridor sign above the carpark is missing. It is being repaired by the Men’s Shed because parts of the back of the sign had rotted quite badly. We will need to upgrade our maintenance schedule to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Attendance at our monthly bushcare on Sunday 10 July was decimated by illness, but the few volunteers who made it along did a great job weeding around the new plants on the riverbank. Because we are unable to mulch this section, we will need to do a lot of hand weeding over the next 2 years until the rainforest canopy closes. After that, weeding will be minimal, as it is now in rainforest zones P1 and P2. With the unseasonal rain, we will need a much bigger turn out at our next bushcare working bee from 2 to 4 pm on Sunday 14 August if we are going to keep on top of the weeds, so we hope to see you there.

On 19 July, some of our Eco-Corridor birdwatchers spent a morning at QUT SERF, Camp Mountain testing the new app for data entry, as part of our pilot citizen science project with TERN. We were joined by our project leader Dr Katie Irvine and Operations Manager Dr Sally O’Neill, both from Adelaide, and Jazmin Malcolm, Communications Officer based in Brisbane. The app will replace the manual paper data sheets we currently use in the field. We trialled the app on a tablet by surveying two TERN vegetation plots using the 2 hectares in 20 minutes method. We hope to be able to use the app on a mobile in future.

Data entry was fairly slow at first as we got used to the various drop-down options in the app. We found a few minor bugs in the beta version, which should be fixed before our next quarterly bird survey of the vegetation plots at SERF due late in August. Once the app has been thoroughly tested, the project will begin to roll out nationally, using citizen scientists (in this case, experienced birdwatchers) to carry out bird surveys at some of TERN’s 700 sites throughout Australia. This will enable much more data to be collected than researchers would be able to achieve on their own. The final app will be open source, so will be available for use by any group carrying our bird surveys using the BirdLife 1 ha/20 min method, so the benefits will extend well beyond this project.

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Peter Storer