Thursday, February 02, 2006


Birds are a continual problem for the grape grower. They eat or partially eat the ripening fruit as well as feed on new shoots. Not only does this reduce the current and next year’s yield but can also lead to major disease outbreaks eg. Botrytis
The major culprits in our area are the satin or bowerbird, the pied currawong and most members of the parrot family (sulphur-crested cockatoo, galah, lorikeet, rosella, king parrot). These are all native species.

Bunch Damage
Luckily we have, as yet, no problems with the silver eye, Indian myna or starling.
The area surrounding the vineyards is heavily wooded with native forest so there are plenty of places for the birds to roost.

Shoot Damage
There are any number of ways to try to prevent bird attack. These include audio and visual deterrents of all sorts, both mechanical and electronic, netting, chemical pesticides and of course shooting. All have advantages and disadvantages.
We have used netting here for many years. It is not 100% effective as birds can sit on the net and peck at the berries through the mesh.

Netted Vines
They also have the happy knack of finding every hole or opening in the netting and getting through, particularly the satin bird. I would estimate that crop losses with netting properly installed run at around 10-15%.
This year we have installed a Hawk Bird Scarer. It is a plastic replica of a Goshawk which, in our case, is mounted on a tall pole at the end of the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard.

Mounted Hawk Bird Scarer
The theory is that birds of all types have an in-built fear of this particular predator. Because the Goshawk hovers before striking its prey the static nature of the replica is no disadvantage. In even a slight breeze the replica wings and tail move in a very realistic way. It is recommended to change the replicas position every two weeks or so.
The Goshawk also attacks birds that are flying, roosting and eating on the ground and apparently potential prey are aware of this. It will be interesting to see how affective this measure is.

The Hawk Bird Scarer
We also have a second one which will be strung high above the new vineyards between two or three tall trees on strong fishing line. This will allow more realistic movement as well as the ability to easily move its position over the vineyards.
In the meantime growth in the new vineyards continue at pace. Recent rain has produced a considerable flush. Even the Pinot Noir is looking good.
The summer holidays are finally over and school is back in. The town has emptied out most of the tourists. The only stragglers are the university students with their classes beginning in March and the DINK’s who obviously want a quieter child free holiday. It’s a pleasure to go into town now. No traffic jams, plenty of parking and room to move in the supermarket.
The South Coast Wine Show judging was held at the end of January in Milton. There were 137 entries from the Southern Highlands, Shoalhaven Coast and South Coast regions. Medals and awards will be presented at a dinner on the 10th February. The public tasting was well attended with almost 100 people turning up.

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