top of page

Sat, 04 Sept





Registration is Closed
See other events

Time and location

04 Sept 2021, 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm AEST

Atherton, Koci Road,, Atherton QLD 4883, Australia

About the event


Join us this year for a fantastic day on the Tablelands watching these magnificent birds. The day is usually wrapped up with a dinner and presentation in Malanda.

12:00–2:00 pm – Counting around Atherton Tablelands 

3:00 pm – Meet at Hastie’s Swamp bird hide for briefing

4:00–6:30 pm – Counting at crane roosts

7:00 pm – Dinner at Malanda Pub


The Day Count must be done between midday and 2:00 pm to minimise the chance of a flock moving and being counted twice. We divide the tablelands into six prescribed routes. We need to get all the routes covered so please let us know if you are interested in taking part. We will give you a map and a record form. The importance of this data is to see if the numbers feeding are similar to those roosting and to see which crops are most important for the cranes.


Meet at Hastie’s Swamp bird hide at 3:00 pm to be assigned your roost. The meeting is essential because every year we get the record forms filled in incorrectly so do please get to Hasties by 3:00 pm for the briefing. Join the volunteers for dinner and a discussion of the results on the day compared to the last 24 years. We’ll then all meet at the Malanda Pub at 7:00 pm for dinner and a talk.


This year we are planning to record the final daylight count with photography. This will improve both numbers and identification of the species i.e. sarus or brolgas. If you have a camera you can use, please inform us of the make and the focal length of the lens (inscribed on the inside front of the lens in mm).


Many of the world’s crane populations migrate away from their breeding grounds during the dry non-breeding season. Brolgas were recorded visiting the Atherton Tablelands in the dry season when they’re not breeding from at least the 1920s, but the discovery of Sarus Cranes on the Tablelands in 1967, less than a year after they were first officially recorded in Australia in the Gulf Plains, excited the whole ornithology and birdwatching community! 

In 1997 the recently formed North Queensland branch of the RAOU (now BirdLife Northern Queensland) established an annual survey to try and census all Brolgas and Sarus Cranes on the Atherton Tablelands on one evening of the year. Simultaneous roost counts were chosen because cranes, which spread out across wide areas to feed during the day, congregate at communal night roosts. The aims of the study were to: estimate numbers of flocking Brolgas and Sarus Cranes using the Tablelands; identify trends in populations; establish whether and to what extent the species share communal roosts; and the species composition and timing of flocks flying in to roosts.


For more information and to RSVP, contact Graham Harrington at or phone 0448 055 077. Please let us know if you have a preferred roost and if you can join us for both counts, or just one of them.

We hope you can join us!

Graham Harrington and Edward Bell

Share this event

bottom of page