Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Wings on a bike along the Lower Molonglo

I celebrated St Patrick's Day by delivering El Camion Real to Commonwealth Motors for a 15k2m service.   When booking in, their starting point in negotiating the finishing point was that they'd want it all day so I loaded my bike in the back of the car and took off for a ride to see if there were any birds around.  Here is the route: it finished up being 53km.
My first stop, after 7.7km was Weston Ponds.  These are essentially a trap for stuff in the storm water system and have two elements.  The first, smaller, pond, which presumably has the higher crud content ....
.. had a far wider range of birds!  This is a mixed raft of ducks.
The Pink-eared Ducks stayed largely in their own raft which totaled 22 birds.
Here we have a panorama of the lovely suburb of Wright.  It should be a source of shame to the ACT Government that this bare-graded paddock was once a popular Forest in which many of Australia's prime runners (including Deek) did their training.
One of my more socially aware acquaintances wondered how the Government was putting a high proportion of "affordable housing" into this McMansion infested area.  I think the answer lies in the Stalinist wall of apartments adjacent to the Devastation of Smaug (I assume a dragon laid waste to the area, rather than the caring and sharing property developers).  Surely they will be sold for well under $200K?

In total I wrote down 14 species here, getting my trip total to 21.

I moved on past the RSPCA centre where a number carers were exercising pooches and took to the bike path above the Molonglo.  I was pleased to note a good number of Darters involved in nesting in the willows.  On looking more closely at this images I was surprised to find that 2 of the nests (arrowed) were Little Pied Cormorants rather than Darters.
This image shows the colouring of the adult Darter.  The bird sitting in the nest must be of the sub-species indolentae as it looks quite big enough to give battle tothe carp itself.
Getting those images require a battle through the weed jungle between the bike path and the bank.  This would seem to be a good case for a hazard reduction burn, rather than destroying the ground layer of Nature Reserves.  Some spraying seems to have been done, but a tad too late to prevent the Verbascum and brambles from setting seed.
I progressed along to the Australian National Botanic Gardens.  This was reached at 19.8kms after adding another 13 species in transit.  There seemed to be quite a lot of plants in flower, but the birds seemed few and far between.  Possibly this reflects it getting rather windy?  My travels took me past the Red Centre Garden, which featured a fair number of Sturt's Desert Pea.
It was interesting to see that this was opened by Senator Simon Birmingham the current Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment (presumably the Minister was too busy demolishing environmental protections somewhere).  As the garden was opened 2 months after the current regime assumed Office they would have had nothing to do with its construction.

One of the issues raised with many proposals for the 'improvement' of natural resources is that they will include inappropriate items to attract the bogan elements.  This is called 'Disneyfication' and probably foreshadows the installation of things like this plastic monster:
This bling-infested White-browed Scrubwren posed nicely.
In that regard it differed from the Rufous Fantail being pursued by a friend (and not even seen by me) and the White-bellied cuckoo-shrike which he photographed earlier in the day in the Gardens (and not even seen by me).   I ended up writing down 17 species of birds in the Gardens of which 9 were additions to the trip list (taking it to 43 species).

I took a walk in the Rainforest gully being particularly impressed with the flowering Helmholtzia glaberrima beside thelower boardwalk.
Not all lizzids are gross-outs.  On checking the waterfall in the rock garden the expected Gippsland Water Dragons were evident.  There are bits and pieces of at least 6 of them in this image.
The rock garden is also a good spot for butterflies and I was very pleased to find a Macleay's Swallowtail perching conveniently.  It has obviously had a hard life judging by the state of its hindwings.
Sticking with wings I called into Commonwealth Park to check out the Grey-headed Flying Fox colony.  It was in full working order, with this tree-full being about 50 metres from the sound-desk for the Skyfire fireworks display 2 nights earlier.
The greyness of the heads isn't really obvious when photographed against a bright blue sky.
Here are a couple (in the numeric, rather than relationship, sense) of then doing what fruit bats seem to do most of the time: squabble noisily
Getting back to the River a Great Cormorant posed to demonstrate that it has a head (unlike Darters).
I have no idea where these domestic geese came from but suggest they'd look a lot better on a plate with some baked spuds.
I called in at Kelly's Jungle (33 km) which is now densely vegetated and had no waterbirds at all.  With a few birds captured (philosopically rather than physically) in transit the total was up to 51 species when my phone rang to say the car was done 2 hours earlier than my negotiating position of 1530.  So it was wellie to pedal for a 12k burst back to Woden.  The Service manager reckoned I looked "a bit hot" when I got there!


sandra h said...

Those Greylag Geese have been there quite some time - they've been sighted on the last few COG outings on LBG.
Sandra h

Flabmeister said...

I think they had a bit too much white on the face for Grey Lags. In fact they had a bit to much to be White-fronted Geese. I suspect like many of the feral things that wander around this area they are mongrels.

Whatever they are, I think they would definitely be improved by Thyme and Parsley stuffing administered in the usual demographic manner.