Monday, 23 April 2018

More Birdbath action

A few days ago I posted about a mixed bathing flock in our birdbath.  Today we had an even more diverse crew turn up.

The most exciting were at least 3 White-naped Honeyeaters.  They are part of the migration out the mountains which happens at this time of year.  I this first image the higher bird, with a red eye-wattle is an adult bird while the lower one with an orange wattle is an immature.
 Two adults.
 Other honeyeaters to visit in this burst were Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Eastern Spinebill.

Several Superb Fairywrens were also present.  I suspect this is a juvenile male.
Other species to front up (in a 5 minute period) were:
Silvereye, including at least one Tasmanian bird);
Striated Thornbill;
Brown Thornbill;
White-browed Scrubwren; and
Red-browed Finch

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Jerrabomberra Wetlands still justifies the name (just)

We decided to go far a stroll around Jerrabomberra Wetlands today.  Knowing its risky to park at the Wetlands ..
.. we parked at the canoe club and walked to Kelly's Swamp.
 There is quite a lot of exposed mud there giving some of the Grey Teal a Dunlin-like black belly.
They made a surprising amount of noise slurping around in the mud.  Even more surpising was the sound of the Swamphens trudging across the ooze.

Frances noticed the unusual lighting effects of the reflection of things, such as this snag, being 90o from the shadow. I'm sure they are independent phenomena but is still looked (and looks) odd.
 There were 5 Black-fronted Dotterel in the smaller part of Kellys, enjoying the mud.
 There were 10 Red-kneed Dotterels in the larger part of the Swamp.  You can't see the red knees (which are actually ankles) as the water was just deep enough to cover them.
 The Swamp is going to be dry soon!

We then headed off on the Billabong Loop ...
 ... noting a further 5 Red-ankled Dotterels in the far end of Kellys.  Getting to the Billabong itself we saw this good looking Royal Spoonbill.  As it doesn't have the yellow crescents above the eyes it is a juvenile
 An Australian White Ibis joined the Spoonbill
 .. and both were joined in a non-photographable way by a Straw-necked Ibis.

We also saw a couple of interesting insect.  I'm not game to identify either of these to order!  Suggestions welcome.  These have subsequently been identified by Penny Gullen.  The first is a Field Cricket Teleogryllus sp.
This is a nymph of bug, probably a Harlequin Bug, Dindymus versicolor.
We staggered back to the car, with me in particular going slowly as my back lets me know I have done too much wood splitting!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

COG O'Connor Ridge

30 members and guests gathered on Dryandra Street for a definite return to the Tom Green model of a Wednesday Walk: close to the centre of Canberra and not too long.  (This was reinforced with a unanimous vote not to extend to Bruce Ridge.)
The basic route was along the back of the Youth Hostel and towards the top of the ridge, then a counterclockwise loop.  After the initial ascent there was a little excitement with the first Scarlet Robins of the day.  (We ended with 8, spread fairly well through the walk, but appearing such that we felt they were different birds , not the same ones following us.)  Little Corellas flew from the direction of the AIS into the suburb.

We had nice views down into the centre of the CBD with misty views of the hills in the background.
It was a little surprising that there was so little Autumn foliage, especially with drought stress being possible.  Perhaps the unseasonable warmth is delaying the formation of abscission layers?

Birds seemed few  in number and only a few Kangaroos were evident.
I'm sure the rest of the marsupial was attached to the head in the grass.

Shortly after encountering a small flock of Double-barred Finches (some seen, others evident by toy trumpet calls) we got onto a mixed feeding flock comprising some of the finches, a Speckled Warbler, Buff-rumped and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Grey Fantail, Grey Shrike Thrush and Silvereyes.

A pair of Galahs appearing to be either inspecting a nest hollow or vandalising a eucalypt.  In view of the time of year the latter seemed more likely .
A small dam produced 2 Australasian Grebes - until a passing pooch (on lead) went for a wade, whereupon the grebes headed for the reeds.

Continuing to walk along a track close to the GDE (Ghastly Dumb Expressway) some interesting invertebrate life was encountered.  The first was a very active male Red-headed Mouse Spider (Missulena occatoria).
 This was followed by a slightly less active, but somewhat larger caterpillar of (so far) unknown species.
The size of the caterpillar - see end of the arrow - is indicated relative to an iPhone (and the  COG member holding it).
We were pleased to see that only sins were banned from the construction site: sinners were not excluded.  However it was thought that trespasses were to be forgiven not prohibited!
Two thoughts were generated by this typo.  First, there has been no construction there for at least 10 years, so the road builders were just too idle to remove their warning signs (SNAFU).  Second thought was how many of these typo signs were printed?  I shall now check all such signs

All up we recorded 36 species for the day.  The full species list is at

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Mixed bathing flock

In Winter birds in this area form mixed feeding flocks, on the basis that many eyes spot much food.  Although we are now at mid-April the weather is nothing like Winter:
 So we are still seeing the Mixed Bathing Flocks which usually occur in Summer.  (I could have included rainfall in the weather table, if I could remember what rainfall is.

Today we had such a flock visit us.  I'm always happy to see Red-browed Finches ...
 .. and Silvereyes,  I think this one is the local race - although its flanks are a tad brown they're not thenear-chestnut of the Tasmanian race.
Also in the flock, but not photographed were Grey Fantails, Striated Thornbill, Superb Fairywren and White-browed Scrubwren.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Welcome back Frogmouth

I had thought the bushfire of last February would have persuaded the Tawny Frogmouths to leave our garden for somewhere less exciting but they returned and nested successfully last year.

They duly vanished for January as usual and a neighbour reported seeing one in February.  It was in range of our pair so I assumed they were still touring the area. However I didn't see them here at in February or March and I had become convinced they had left.

This mornign as we drove out I saw a familiar blob in a slightly strange place.  I checked it out when we got home and there was a Tawny Frogmouth.
The somewhat chubby shape suggests a male, but the amount of Tawny suggests it is a female, fluffing out her feathers in view of the relatively low temperatures and strong winds.

Friday, 13 April 2018

A brief but Crimson sequence

I have recently moved our second bird bath to outside the kitchen window where we can see what is going on.  Today there were 3 Crimson Rosellas in the two baths (1 red, 1 blue).  Needless to say, by the time I got back with my camera only 1 was left.

The camera was on "Intelligent Auto" setting which apparently includes burst shooting when the subject moves.  In this case that gave an interesting sequence.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A brief trip around the Plain

A Canberra birder reported yesterday on a trip he and his Mum (thus indicating he's many years younger than myself) took around the Plain.  He saw some good birds so I thought I'd emulate him.

The interesting stuff began almost as soon as I'd got across the Molonglo. My friend had seized the instant after rain (ie the strange stuff that fell at the end of February) and put in some cattle feed.  The cattle haven't made it yet but the Galahs were enjoying themselves.
Getting on to Plains Rd I followed a female Nankeen Kestrel (note chestnut, rather than grey, crown) from hawthorn to hawthorn until it finally posed well.
 A little further down the road a mixed feeding flock was evident.   One of the members was a Robin and on getting a close look the rufous forehead was obviously a female.  The brownish wingbars suggest to me that it ios a young bird.
Other members of the block included a White-plumed Honeyeater (unusual in this habitat), Grey Fantails, Wille Wagtails, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Common Blackbird and Willie Wagtails.

A little further on a group of Crested Pigeons were taking their ease.
I finally got to look down into Foxlow Lagoon were there were quite a few waterfowl of various varieties, including Black-winged Stilts and Red-necked Avocets.  This image shows none of them but does indicate that the water is very shallow.