Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Eagles & Drones

Interactions between Wedge-tailed Eagles and drones are becoming more frequent as humans intensify our land use and make increasing use of aerial vehicles for survey work. In the last few weeks, many people have sent me a link to this ABC News article which featured the above image, taken by Leigh Nairn while using a drone to taking photos of his farming activities, of an eagle just before it attacked the camera. Today I received a timely call from the ABC who were keen for my opinion about possible impacts of such attacks to the eagles, which came just as I was driving to the vet with the carcass of Walyunga, a Perth-born Wedge-tail that flew to the Pilbara region less than a month after beginning juvenile dispersal. Walyunga died suddenly and the evidence suggests this was because his wing feathers were chopped by a small, fast-spinning rotor-blade, like that on many drones (i.e. those larger and with more blades than the typical commercial example of a DJI Phantom or similar, which is what most people imagine when they think of a drone). As I mentioned to the ABC, it's not only drone operators who suffer losses as a result of these interactions, and it places emphasis on the importance of research that may potentially determine ways to minimise their occurrence. Part of my PhD research aims to investigate 3-dimensional space use of territorial adult eagles, but a big gap at this moment is funding. I'm applying for grants but am always keen to hear from anyone that may wish to sponsor my research. If this is you, please email me!

You can read more about tracking eagles using GPS/Satellite technology at the Wedge-tailed Eagle Tracking website here, and also listen to the interview on the ABC's Country Hour website here (the segment on eagles and drones starts at 32 minutes). Let's hope we are able to combine eagle tracking and drone operations to help find a solution to this human / wildlife conflict.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Twin Boxes for Twin Creeks

Twin Creeks is a 1200 ha community Conservation Reserve managed by the Friends of the Porongurup Range, and is set on a beautiful block of remnant vegetation just east of Mount Barker. Earlier this week I had the privilege of visiting this reserve to work with Birdlife Australia Project Coordinator and good friend Tegan Douglas and run a community education workshop about Black Cockatoo conservation, which involved building and installing two nest-boxes for cockatoos at Twin Creeks.

Cocky box construction is underway!
It was wonderful to meet some local folk enthusiastic to help our unique birds, and see a couple more potential artificial nest-sites for our threatened cockatoos installed in relatively young trees that will not form natural hollows for at least another century.

Afternoon abour-work: the second cockatoo box is hoisted into position in a tall but thin Wandoo.

After this workshop was complete, we headed on to my friend Jeff's block on the southern side of the Porongurup Range, to run a second educational workshop about the successful use of nest-boxes by Carnaby's Cockatoo. This workshop was supported by South Coast NRM and I am so grateful to Liz Tanner for her amazing work to make this happen! Liz and another lovely bunch of local bird-lovers turned up to hear the history of the cockatoo 'breeding population' which has grown in size during the past 10 years, and to assist with the installation of two new boxes. Cockatoos usually arrive to breed at this site in October and November, so it was great to see these additional sites in place with plenty of time to be discovered before the 2017 breeding season!

The second of two new cockatoo boxes in situ at Jeff's, each of which had an amazing view of the Karri forest!

Down from the trees for a brief moment, it was time to head on to Albany for the next part of my down south week of outreach... but more on that later!