The Brolga, which used to be called the Australian Crane, is quite well known amongst Australian birders and rural residents, if only because it is so noticeable either on land or in the air. It is almost unheard of within the general population because it’s been almost eliminated everywhere except the Top End, where it thrives simply because its breeding wetlands are in crocodile-infested sections impassable in the wet season. What astounded me when I first looked into the situation is how few “experts” on Brolgas we have. Our Sarus Crane is even less known.
The global Crane Specialist Group has 247 experts in 56 countries. The Australian chapter lists four experts. A website of terrific information, Australian Crane Network, rounds out much of what there is on Australia’s cranes.
Yesterday I had the privilege of Zoom-interviewing one of the nation’s four Crane experts. I was amazed by the level of cogent knowledge, born of a lifetime’s dedication, imparted to me in less than an hour. I found myself shaking my head in admiration. Humility was also clear: very little tracking of Australia’s cranes has been done (for such a bird-rich country, governmental funding of bird research is a pittance) and even numerical estimates of numbers is most uncertain.
As fascinating as yesterday’s new information was, the greater boost to my project was the boost to my own self-confidence. While very much a novice on the subject, during the interview, I found my analytical and writerly brains full engaged and capable. Perhaps, after all, this project has legs!
(The top photo by David Stowe is from the Australian Cranes Network website, showing two Brolgas and two Sarus Cranes coming down to a roost at Bromfield Swamp, where we hope to be in a fortnight!)