Raptor Research Grant 2021

Successful Raptor Research Grant Applicants 2021

Applications for the 2021 raptor research grant have been assessed and three excellent projects have been allocated funding from the BirdLife Australia Raptor Group.

Aspects of the spatial and reproductive ecology of the ‘endangered’ grey goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae in modified landscapes of south-east Tasmania

David Young

David Young is a PhD candidate whose study aims to gain insights into the spatial and reproductive ecology of grey goshawks in highly modified and natural habitats in south-east Tasmania, and the ways in which modified anthropogenic habitats promote or negatively impact populations or individuals of the species.

David will achieve this by analysing the range estimates and movement patterns of 20 adult goshawks during breeding and non-breeding seasons by using GPS telemetry in a variety of landscapes and forest types. GPS data from adult goshawks will be used to determine attributes of important nesting, foraging and roosting habitat.

The project will improve the ecological understanding of adult grey goshawk behaviour, which will help manage the conservation of the population.

The Ecology of the Nankeen Kestrel across the urban/rural gradient of South Australia

Taylor Headland

Taylor Headland is a PhD candidate investigating the impact of urbanisation on urban raptors across Australia, with a focus on the Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides) across the urban/rural gradient of South Australia. Kestrels are an abundant and accessible bio-indicator of ecosystem health and therefore are a highly suitable model species for assessing urbanisation impacts on raptors.

Key areas of research in this project include kestrel abundance, habitat use, individual health, foraging behaviour and nesting success across the urban/rural gradient. Citizen science data collated from eBird will be analysed to examine the density of raptors along the urban/rural gradient. This data will be correlated with various land use, pollution and climate maps to investigate raptor diversity in space and time.

It is expected that accurate and detailed data pertaining to the abundance of Australian raptors, as well as kestrel foraging habits, diet, movement patterns, individual health and nesting success across the urban/rural gradient will be obtained to aid in the management and conservation of not only kestrels but all Australian raptors. As urbanisation occurs at a rapid rate, and with raptors are declining around the world, it is critical to understand how we can manage these keystone species and protect the remaining habitat to ensure viable raptor populations.

White-bellied Sea-eagles of the Far South Coast, NSW

Rohan Bilney

The aim of Rohan’s study is to catalogue White-bellied Sea-eagle nesting locations and monitor breeding success. This information is vital to help protect nests and establish important baseline information on the status and population of the White-bellied Sea-eagle in the Far South Coast of NSW. All records of nests will be submitted to the NSW BioNet Atlas. Prior to my research commencing, less than 10 nesting sites were recorded in the region in 70 years (between Batemans Bay and Vic/NSW border), despite ideal habitat.

Rohan began work on this project in May 2020 when he started requesting information from the public about the location of White-bellied Sea-eagle nesting sites on the Far South Coast of New South Wales. This included emails and phone calls to numerous environmental contacts, land managers, environmental groups, various local facebook group pages and a radio interview. This resulted in information pertaining to 40-50 potential nesting locations (of various ages) and 25-30 sites where pairs were regularly seen.

A number of nesting sites will become known and lodged to the NSW BioNet (Atlas) so that sites are considered during planning processes (e.g. land management). From the first year, information on 40-50 nesting site localities were obtained and 33 nesting sites were visited. Of those, 16 were considered active and some breeding information was obtained. More sites are expected to be visited in 2021. This research will reveal significant ecological information on the species for the region.

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