Wednesday, 18 January 2012

COG does Burra

The COG Wednesday Walks are really mid-month walks as they occur on the third Wednesday of each month.  This month we visited the "retreat property" of a COG member about 30km South of Canberra C'B'D.

It was quite a bit higher (880m according to Google Earth) but still rather warm on our first day of real Summer weather (33C)  in 2012.  I will start with a slightly modified version of the message I put on the COG email discussion group.

17 members and guests had a most enjoyable, albeit un-cold, walk to the property at Burra this morning.  Many thanks Ian for inviting us and guiding us around the property.
Once we started birding we did well, ending up writing down a good haul of 39 species on and around the property, including Crested Pigeons and Galahs seen on the approach road, but NOT including the Helmeted Guineafowl seen grazing on the verge.

The highlight was a Yellow-faced Honeyeater nest attached to a vine outside Ian's cottage.  A quick peek showed 2 eggs in the nest, but as the bird was in the vicinity no further disruption was offered.  A Peregrine Falcon nest was also seen n a tree but the chicks had fledged and left a few weeks ago. 

A good crop of Thornbills was harvested with Yellow-rumped, Buff-rumped and Yellow seen before we moved from the parking area and Striated and Brown added later.  A Speckled Warbler warbled convincingly and a White-throated Gerygone emitted th e"tinkling fall of diamonds call" as well as a young bird (little white on the throat) prsenting very good views close to the group. Red Wattlebirds, Noisy Miners and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were common in the trees and single of Noisy Friarbird and Eastern Spinebill added to the diversity of the area. 

As it is still summer (indeed, some would say this is the first summery weather since November) we saw a couple of migrants in Dollarbird and Dusky Woodswallow.

A full list of species seen will be posted on the Trips page of the COG website in due course.
The significant amendment was to correctly identify the Spinebill.  In the original version it was subject to a small typo leading to a (the?) reader of the message to enquire if it was not unseasonably early for an "Easter Spinebill."

The birds generally didn't hang about long for photos.   An historic wall did stay put:  it was thought that this may have been a boundary wall in days gone by for "Duntroon" one of the original settlements on the Limestone Plains.  (It seems to me that it is way too far from the homestead for that to be the case.)  Another theory is that a landowner engaged some workers - possibly Chinese - from the Snowy Mountains Scheme to build the wall.  But that seems far too recent for a wall like this: perhaps they were coming from the Goldfields of Kiandra?
  There were a number of nice plants around of which this Swainsona sericia was an attarctive example
... as was the white Wahenbergia sp.  (A traditional blue 'bluebell' and some Vittadinia muhlerii also appear in the image.)
After the walk myself and a friend called in briefly to Queanbeyan Park to see what was going on with the Australian Hobby family which nests there.  We saw an adult perched high up in the nest tree but not the eyasses.
A colleague who lives and works in Queanbeyan commented that when the the young are flying in the area it is "noisier than a bungee-jumping convention".  Recent news from the Zambezi area suggests that would mean lots of "splash" sounds!

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