Tuesday, 12 August 2014

No bull: there was an Azure Kingfisher!

While we were disporting ourselves elsewhere a report was posted to the COG Chatline detailing the whereabouts of an Azure Kingfisher at Jerrabomberra Wetlands.  After our return there were further reports of the bird still being seen in the same location.

The original report suggested not going into the paddocks as the cattle were calving, or had small calves at foot.

On my first attempt to view the bird, after walking from Kellys swamp, I found that the cattle - all females - were not in the paddock but in the river area - specifically all over the track by the gate (point 1).
As I didn't wish to upset the cattle, nor their owner, nor the Ranger for the area, I decided to go for plan B and see if I could spot the bird from the far side of the Molonglo and walked to point 2 (a fair step, see red line -  but not rewarded by any members of the Kookaburra family).
A few other folk followed my example, until a message appeared suggesting the cattle wouldn't mind visitors (and had been known to provide shelter for a Cattle Egret snapper.

Further reports appeared indicating the bird was still round so on 12 August I had a second go.  The cattle were as expected still around, but were only now moving towards point 1.
The first more interesting bird I found was this Egret.  Even though it was close to bovines, I knew it wasn't a Cattle Egret but a Great Egret.
A disadvantage of having cattle in the area is that one has to be careful about the placement of one's feet.
A friend had reported watching the Kingfisher fishing near point A a couple of times last week.  I patrolled up and down with no luck so crossed on to the island and checked the Northern shore to the extent possible while still avoiding brambles.
At point B this was the habitat.
Shortly thereafter I met two other Alcedophiles who were aware that the most recent sightings had been in the vicinity of point B.  So we returned there and within about 3 minutes the bird was seen: about 10cms out of the RHS of the image above!   A bit of a challenge to persuade a camera to focus on the bird rather than the brambles.
If needs be I would claim that impression would be good enough to ID the species.  However it moved around a bit and I ended with a more satisfactory image.
The slight frustration is that this was right across the Molonglo from point 2 so I could have seen the bird if it had been here, rather than at point A, on my previous visit!  But anyway, mission accomplished.  Or was it?  The ranger had also reported seeing a Black Falcon flying from the powerlines ....
..   and it would have been really nice to have two ACT ticks in one visit.  Alas: don't be greedy - no falcon appeared and in the absence of Angus, behind which to shelter, I couldn't get really close to the frog-hunting Cattle Egrets out in the paddock.  I think this 50m shot shows the different proportions to the Great Egret shown earlier.

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