Wednesday, 19 February 2014

COG goes to Queanbeyan Sewage Treatment Works.

Queanbeyan City Council has been kind enough to allow COG to visit their Sewage ponds, which are becoming an important drought refuge for water birds in the general area.  My thanks to Jennie and Joan, who accompanied us, PJ and Vince who organised the site for us and Natasha and Andre who facilitated the visit.

Here is a Google Earth mudmap of the area with pond numbers annotated.  Images of the ponds will come at the conclusion of this post.
30 members and guests turned up and I advised them  that as it was a working industrial site there were some additional rules to follow:
  1. sign the visitors book; 
  2. don't go near machinery; 
  3. give way to working vehicles; and 
  4. don't fall in the ponds.  
I also noted that if anyone disobeyed Rule 4 I wasn't taking them to the Hospital in my car.

We ended up writing down 49 species which I regard as rather good given that the total list of species in COG records, over 28 visits since 1982, was only 105.

20 of our species were more or less directly related to the water in the ponds.  The first excitement was 4 Freckled Duck in Pond 2 (which we visited first).  The first image shows a Freckled Duck sitting on a branch with a Pacific Black Duck.
 Others were on the water, in this poor image one is escorted by a Grey Teal.
For a good image of Freckled Ducks it isn't possible to go past this shot by Lindell!  The red above the bill is visible.
If the next image is clicked to give it in a larger size a good range of species are visible including Black Swan, Australasian Shoveler, Pink-eared Duck, Hardhead and many Eurasian Coot (I counted 217 of the last named and as I said in my message to the chatline the member who counted 216 obviously missed one which dived).
One member was suspicious that he had sen a Musk Duck but every time he re-checked the area of the pond all he could see was a Hardhead.  I also checked with the same result, concluding that a (reasonablty distant) Hardhead with its neck hunched down has much the same profile as a Musk Duck.

I have included this image of a Pink-eared Duck because it actually shows the pink ear behind the eye.
 The only member of the Heron group we saw today was this White-faced Heron perched in a willow.
Possibly the most intriguing observation of the day concerned an Australian  Reed Warbler spotted with something in its beak.  It was initially thought to be nesting material which seems strange as the species should be focused more on migrating than breeding at this time of year.  On getting a better look members of the group saw that the bird actually had a small fish, which it then gave to another bird.  All present thought they were insectivores and HANZAB does not include fish as recorded food of this species, although there are a few references to them feeding in water.

Here is pond 2, which we visited twice.
And this is the far larger pond 3 on which most of the birds were located.
Just to reinforce the points that the site is: 
  1. a sewage works; and
  2. working.
Once again many thanks to the Queanbeyan City Council for allowing this visit.  One of the Council reps - Jennie - took some excellent photographs of the group and the day.  Here are some of them (trying to avoid identifiable images of people)!

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