Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A foray to Oaks Estate

Oaks Estate is an interesting settlement, which is formally part of the ACT but is:

  • separated from the main urban part of the Territory by a rural/industrial area; and
  • welded on to Queanbeyan.

The Estate is the area above the border while urban Queanbeyan is below.  There used to be a view that much of the estate was public housing, and that most of the people allocated housing there were those who didn't fit in to other public housing in Canberra.  A tough neck of the woods.

I am aware through a previous existence that some concerned citizens were attempting to improve the lives of those who reside there by (for example) reactivating the Community Garden.  Although it looks as though the shop has closed - or at least is up for sale)- it seems that such an improvement movement is still happening.  I was driving through this morning and noticed that a large building (of unknown function) has become decorated with some rather interesting paste up art.

The reason for visiting Oaks Estate was not to view their artwork however but to check out this water body.
It isn't (officially at least) the swimming hole, but the outflow from the Queanbeyan Sewage works.  Why it is that a town in New South Wales has its sewage works located in the ACT is a very interesting question, to which I don't know the answer (yet).

The ponds are beautified by a large clump of Cannas, as well as being home to a lot of waterfowl.  Indeed with the dearth of water around the Monaro at present I suspect that sewage works are going to become very important refuges over the next few weeks.
The first species of particular interest were Pink-eared Ducks, which have become quite uncommon in the ACT while there was lots of water in the centre of the country.  I counted 45 here today.
There is no point clicking on the image to see the pink ear: its almost invisible.  One of the vernacular names for the species is Zebra Duck which is IMHO far better.  However I can imagine the Important People In Charge of Bird Names harrumphing about possible confusion with African equines.

The other species of particular interest was Freckled Duck.  These are quite unusual around the ACT most years, but have been relatively common this year.  Here is a male.  The freckles can be seen, but the shape of the head and (particularly) the ski-jump beak are far better field marks.
 I think this bunch are females.
 Two of them swam past some Little Black Cormorants.
Needless to say, the Freckled Duck were my Bird of the Day.

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