Sunday, 15 March 2009

Hinterblitz: some objectives and guidelines

1 To increase coverage, within the Canberra Ornithologists GROUP (COG) bird observation recording system of the area within the COG Area of Interest (COGAOI) outside the borders of the ACT – which I term the hinterland of the ACT.
2 To build up species lists for the hinterland and areas within the hinterland.
3 To give a simple project to which people interested in birds can participate whether or not they are members of COG.
4 To have some fun.

Relationship to the COG Bird Blitz
For the last several years Barbara Allen has been facilitating a Spring blitz of the COGAOI within the boundary of the ACT. This is building up a very useful time series of data. It is my intention that this exercise complements the Blitz and intend that the methods used will be largely the same. I have chosen to do this at the other end of the year to avoid any conflict of resources between the two exercises.

The core date is 21 March and if possible I’d like people to undertake their recording on that date. However, the objectives above are not crucially time dependent, so I would be quite happy to take records for this purpose from 19 – 23 March. (Of course records outside that bracket are always welcome for the COG General observation system.)

Individual Survey Area
Two methods are recommended:
  • a search of an area of 500m radius around a central point, or
  • a search of a 2Ha area.
Since the objective is to build up broad species lists rather than scientific measures of abundance I recommend the 500m approach. However should observers wish to undertake 2Ha surveys I would be very pleased to take their data.

In addition if exciting birds – in terms of species or numbers - are spotted while in transit I’d certainly accept an incidental record.

Individual Survey duration
For 500m radius surveys I suggest that at least 20 minutes is required, and don’t specify an upper limit (but please record how long you are observing).

For 2Ha sites I recommend that the Birds Australia 20 minute search be used. If a 2Ha site is really “happening”, with birds everywhere consideration could be given to repeated 20 minute surveys to the duration of your stamina!

Numbers of birds
Please try to count the numbers of birds of each species seen during your surveys. Note that:
  • if you are certain you have seen 2 birds during the survey period (eg a male King Parrot and a female 10 minutes later, but within your period) that should count as 2.
  • If a flock of 10 birds passes through and clearly leaves the area and a second flock of 7 of the same species arrives, that is 17.
However if in doubt report the smaller number.

Avoidance of duplication
Some of the recipients of these guidelines also complete a COG Garden Bird Survey Chart. To avoid duplication of recording could I ask that they survey in such a way that they do not include any of their GBS site in this exercise. I am not specifying any required distance of separation.

How to report

I intend to try to summarise the observations in the Hinterblitz for publication in a future edition of the COG Bulletin ‘Canberra Bird Notes’ so would like to get my hands on the data .
COG General records are submitted through a hard copy form ( or through an online form at

If people are completing the hard copy forms could they mail them to me at 101 Whiskers Creek Rd, Carwoola, NSW 2620 and after I have extracted the required data I’ll hand them in to COG for processing after extracting the required data. If completing the online forms please let me know the name of the area being surveyed and the date of survey and I will ask Paul Fennell to give me an electronic copy of the record.

If neither of those approaches is possible please send me,
  • the address of the site;
  • the latitude and longitude (or a sufficiently precise address that I can find the coordinates from Google Earth)
  • the duration of your survey(s);
  • a list of the species seen and the numbers of each species; and
  • details of any breeding activity – unlikely at this time of year.
preferably by email to but otherwise to the physical address above.
I will extract the data needed for my summary and complete a COG data sheet for addition to the COG database in due course

Many thanks for your help.

Martin Butterfield

1 comment:

David McDonald said...

Thanks for organising that, Martin. Regrettably I'll be away from Fri 20 to Sun 22 March, but I'll try to grab some time on Tue 23rd to survey some sites in the Wamboin/Bungendore area.
Regards - David