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At BirdLife Australia we are dedicated to achieving outstanding conservation results for our native birds and their habitats. With our specialised knowledge and the commitment of an Australia-wide network of members, volunteers and supporters, we are creating a bright future for Australia’s birds. Look out for our new website from February 2012 at birdlife.org.au
Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary
A Brief History
Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary derived its name from the parish of Clarkesdale named after Gordon's great grandfather who had settled at Piggoreet. Gordon purchased the 'Bird Paddock' block of 31 hectares in 1957. He had always admired the views and the bird songs when droving sheep between his family properties, Piggoreet West and Linton Park. For many years it had been used as a holding paddock to and from the shearing shed at Linton Park. It had never been intensively grazed but gold mining had left many scars. Gordon first started planting in the spring of 1967 using many Australian species attractive to birds for food and shelter. The current ideology of using only indigenous species did not become fashionable for another 20 or 30 years.
In spring and summer the 'Bird Paddock' once again resounds with birdsong. The resident Superb Fairy-wrens, Grey Shrike-thrushes, Eastern Yellow Robins, Jacky Winters and Eastern Shrike-tits are all calling. Their song is joined by the visiting Rufous Whistlers, White-winged Trillers, Pallid and Fan-tailed Cuckoos, Dusky Woodswallows, Satin Flycatchers, Blue-winged Parrots and Golden and Shining Bronze Cuckoos. The dawn chorus has to be heard to be believed.
In 1980 Gordon purchased a second block of 13 hectares on the south side of the Linton Piggoreet road opposite the Bird Paddock. This block was first farmed in 1910 and at one stage was an orchard with plums, pears, apples, almonds and cherries. A cottage on the site was used for many years as a meeting place for many devoted birdo's and volunteers. Termites have made the cottage uninhabitable and a new meeting place is about to be created within a substantial machinery shed built in the 1980's.
This second block was named 'Grantiella' to acknowledge the Painted Honeyeater, Grantiella picta, an occasional visitor. There are now frequent sightings of Bassian Thrushes, White-browed Scrub Wrens, Bronze-winged Pigeons, Crimson Rosellas and Brown Goshawks in the remnant and planted Red stringy-barks, Messmates and Scent-barks and the dense understory thickets.
The 'Bird Paddock' and 'Grantiella' blocks were donated to BOCA in 1975 and 1980 respectively.
During the 1980's, Gordon purchased several other adjacent hobby-farm blocks to add to the Sanctuary. He donated these extra parcels of land to Trust for Nature and set about creating more bird habitat with a wide range of Australian plants. Many exotic species and weeds were removed and the regeneration of remnant indigenous species is encouraged. An immature pine plantation on one of the blocks will be revegetated with indigenous species after the mature pines have been harvested.
Gordon Clarke died in 1996 at the age of 89 years. He derived much enjoyment and satisfaction from his project and secured its future by the endowment of the Gordon Clarke Trust Fund. His example has been an inspiration to many and he always insisted that the needs of the birds must come first.
Links to other items in Clarkesdale