Saturday, 24 March 2012

Walks near Lake George

In my post about a drive to Sydney I commented about the apparent increase in water in Lake George.  Today we walked along Lake road (North of Bungendore) to see the water and its wildlife.

Given the lake was effectively dry a couple of years ago the amount of water today was quite striking.  It is still a lot lower than it was in the late 1980s but a lot fuller than when I last went to this area.  The extra water became apparent when passing the dam on Lake Road: this was a great birding spot in the 1990s but has been as dry as a dead dingo for some time.  Here is the situation in March 2012.
Not many birds (although a flock of Double-barred Finches flew in front of the car on the drive out) but a lot of water.

One of the interesting aspects of the water in the lake was the reflections of the windmills.  Although quite sensible according to the laws of physics, it seemed bizarre that the towers could be reflected in the water some kilometres away.  Here are a couple of snaps.

The water was still a long way (probably at least 1km)  from the road, and as we were basically there for a walk we didn't have a telescope, so couldn't identify most of the birds in or near the Lake.  There were a lot of White-faced Herons (18 in one flock) and masked lapwings (40 in one flock and at least 20 a bit further along).  However the only birds I photographed were these Red-browed Finches.  My count is 11 birds in this image (click to enlarge) - but there were at least 40 in the flock, picking up seed from the roadside while flying up into the hawthorns when disturbed by a small dog.
Insects were also present.  This bug was walking around on the road.  Our friend Roger Farrow has suggested it may be a "a nymph of the harlequin bug Dindymus versicolor".
This butterfly - probably a Jezabel - was on an Acacia...
rather than joining many other Lepidopterids on a flowering Eucalyptus viminalis.
I intend to revisit the area with my telescope to sort out the water birds a bit better, but believe we recorded about 25 species today.

Yes, "been there, done that" on the Monday morning.  It was rather hazy but the reflections of the trubines were still visible.
Birding started with a more careful look at the big dam (or as suggested later, the large wetland).  This showed that quite a few species of waterbirds are using the resource.  The most surprising was a Musk Duck
while the cutest was a young - not quite yet in adult plumage - Australasian Grebe.
Having cleared this with the landholder I walked out on the lake bed.  The most astonishing aspect of this was the cloud of insects that were stirred up.  They seemed to look like mosquitoes
but fortunately didn't bite.  Going out from the shore with my telescope let me get a bit of a look at the nearer ducks etc on the Lake, and they seemed to be (as expected) Grey Teal and Pacific Black Duck.  A pair of Australian Shelduck seemed to be sentinels and fllew away honking (thus causing everyone else to panic) and a few Chestnut teal were also mixed in.

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