Aussie Backyard Bird Count is on again ... can we beat 175 species?

COUNTDOWN: Mercury columnist Margaret Clarke says bird watching is a relaxing, enjoyable experience. Pictures Max Mason-Hubers.
COUNTDOWN: Mercury columnist Margaret Clarke says bird watching is a relaxing, enjoyable experience. Pictures Max Mason-Hubers.

Birdlife Australia is once again running the Aussie Backyard Bird Count from Monday, October 19 to Sunday during National Bird Week.

This time last year 320 bird observers participated across the Maitland Local Government Area.

What did they find? A total of 175 species identified, with the most common species being Rainbow Lorikeet, Noisy Miner, Australian Magpie, Common Myna and Spotted Dove.

With the local community spending more time in their backyards as a result of COVID restrictions, Maitland City Council has already seen a large amount of interest from the community to participate in this year's event.

The count is held each year to help conservation group BirdLife Australia understand trends in bird communities from year to year.

"To take part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, all you need is 20 minutes and access to the Aussie Backyard Bird Count app or website," Council's Manager Environment and Sustainability Catherine Pepper said.

"You do not need to be a professional birdwatcher to participate as the app is free and will help you identify local birds based on size, colour and location."

Council suggests those looking for somewhere different to undertake birdwatching activities can head to one of the many parks around Maitland such as Walka Water Works, which provide some great birdwatching opportunities.

One of those who has been an an enthusiastic counter has been Maitland Mercury bird columnist Margaret Clarke.

"Yes I plan to do some counting," she said.

"I believe people are restricted in their access to green spaces these days - not just COVID, but also from urban sprawl and the modern lifestyle.

"I've said before that research indicates that our physical and mental well-being is dependent on nature and just being around trees can boost your immune system and relieve stress.

"Bird watching is a relaxing, enjoyable experience and it's so easy to do. All you need is a pair of binoculars and a bird identification field guide and you are ready to enter the amazing world of birds."

She said those interested in bird watching can join Hunter Bird Observers Club and take part in their regular outings.

To find out more or to register your interest in participating head to www.aussiebirdcount.org.au.