NSW & ACT 2022 Twitchathon

Brought to you by BIGnet, A Loose Affiliation of NSW & ACT Birdwatching Clubs and Organisations

This year’s Twitchathon will return to the standard format, following changes made last year in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, with the event being held over the weekend of Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 October.

Following the success of last year’s event, BIGnet are once again running the annual Twitchathon event in NSW and the ACT. The Twitchathon has been running, in NSW and the ACT now, for close to 30 years. In this time we have, between us, managed to raise very significant funds for a range of conservation projects. Let’s make this year another success and raise over $30,000 in aid of the Gang-gang Cockatoo!

A pair of Gang-gang Cockatoos, photo courtesy of Andrew Silcocks

The Gang-gang Cockatoo’s plight is particularly alarming, having gone from a species considered of Least Concern to being listed federally as Endangered after the 2019/2020 fires. While the dramatic change in its conservation status is largely the result of these fires, the species population has been declining for a number of years – by up to 69 % in the last three generations!

This decline was shocking for many people – after all, they are such a beloved bird by birders and non-birders alike. Despite their popularity, Gang-gang Cockatoos are one of the least studied cockatoo species in Australia. We need to know more about their lives, their habitat requirements and distribution, particularly in the face of natural disasters such as the 2019-20 wildfires. They face threats on several fronts including habitat and hollow loss as well as the overarching climate crisis which is increasing fire frequency and intensity through much of their range. There is an urgent need to consolidate our knowledge of the species, better protect habitat and engage the community in efforts to monitor and conserve them.

In collaboration with Campbelltown City Council and the University of Sydney, BirdLife Australia will be setting up a pilot project in south-west Sydney with a small number of known Gang-gang Cockatoo breeding sites to:

  • Investigate just what is Gang-gang Cockatoo habitat in SW Sydney urban bushland,
  • Examine whether novel supplementary/artificial hollows can be used to increase breeding and
  • Raise awareness and knowledge of Gang-gang Cockatoos in SW Sydney, recruit citizen scientist participation and have individuals create habitat for Gang-gang Cockatoos in their own spaces.

Already there is great work underway in the ACT and south coast of NSW trialling artificial hollows for Gang-gang Cockatoos and looking at the microclimate and characteristics of Gang-gang Cockatoo hollows. We will be trialling some additional types of artificial hollows and using data loggers to monitor microclimate in these and natural hollows to add to our growing knowledge about what these birds need to successfully raise young.

Ultimately, we want to use the knowledge gained from this project to work towards bringing Gang-gang Cockatoos back to Greater Sydney and beyond and to build a knowledgeable, passionate and active community to help make that happen.

Artificial hollow, photo courtesy of Mat Misdale

We are maintaining the same Twitchathon formats as in the last few years:

  • The Big Weekend will be a 30-hour mega twitch for the crazy and dedicated with a target well above 200 species being their goal.
  • The Champagne race, which is a 12-hour event for those who want something more relaxing and sedate.
  • Finally, the 3 hour Birdathon. This offers something for a whole range of participants, from experienced bird watchers who don’t have the time or inclination for the Big Weekend to the novices looking for a chance to cut their teeth.

As was the case last year, there is no separate children’s event, but children can register as part of a team provided that they are accompanied by an adult.

By now I hope you’re all raring to go, so here’s how. Through this website you can access a registration form, rules, species list, and sponsorship details. Chase up your team and start your planning. Let’s see if we can pass the $30,000 this year!

Female Gang-gang Cockatoo, photo courtesy of Tricia Kuhn