Wednesday, 17 September 2014

COG finds birds in Gungahlin!! Lotsa birds!!!!

30 members and guests fought their way through astonishing peak-hour traffic to the gathering point in Wunderlich St on the eastern shore of Yerrabi Pond.  After going through the rituals we headed down to the shores of the pond (and a few members, including a tall beardie, decided that the weather wasn't as nice as first thought and returned for an extra layer).

One of our members, Bill, surveys this Pond regularly and commented that there are on average 650 Eurasian Coots on it.  Looking at the mass on the area we could see, and speculating on the difficulty of avoiding duplication and omissions that seemed to be a very fair estimate of the number present today. I am occasionally asked how to differentiate Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens.  This shows the difference in bill colour rather clearly.
It is less difficult to distinguish Coot from Australian Pelican.
 In fact Pelican seems to be the signature bird of the pond with structures including these spring-specials ..
 .. and decoy pelicans on the Western boundary.
This Magpie was pointing its bill up and fluttering its wings and tail.  It was an excellent representation of the female Invitatory Display, described on HANZAB v7 p604.
Shortly after we agreed on this venue for our walk a COG member reported Musk Duck breeding on the pond.  So I at least was hopeful of seeing the outcome of this event.  Our first sighting was a male, who cruised very close to shore giving great views of his inflatable bill pouch.
This image shows all the duck and also the great clarity of the water - possibly indicating that there are few European Carp to muddy it (and also indicating pretty good run-off control by the developers of upstream housing).
 This shot shows a deflated pouch and also the array of the feathers,
Then we found Mum and the two surviving chicks.  I failed to get an image of her feeding the chicks - a very rare behaviour in ducks.
 On the subject of chicks, this chap was the tiniest of three Purple Swamp-hen chicks.
This image of a Black Swan gets included under the 'spiffy' rule.
 This one is of a family with 7 cygnets.
 I know the Ugly Duckling was the European based Mute Swan but who could call this cutie 'ugly?
 The bogus pelicans were adjacent to a fallen tree which was well supplied with Cormorants.  At least 3 Great Cormorants ...

 9 Little Pied Cormorants and 6 Little Black Cormorants.
 The green eye of the Little Black Cormorant is a sign of breeding plumage.
The behaviour of these two, both fluffing out feathers and ducking heads with twining necks, was seen as display, indicative of a private moment being needed in the near future.  We moved on: this blog doesn't contain adult content!
When I first arrived I was told that I had just missed a male Superb Parrot.  Right at the end of the walk a flock of 5 birds flew into a small eucalypt, posed long enough for photos and then nicked off.  Well done those psittacoids!

This is the female ..
 .. and here is most of the male.
On the subject of sexing birds (settle down, there is no adult content here - I mean determining which sex the birds are) Peter ran a small workshop on this process for Pacific Black Ducks.  The key feature is that adult females have marks - of a rather variable nature - on their tertials.  In this case they are indicated by red lines.
The male has unmarked tertials.
 This nest was replete with baby Red Wattlebirds ...
 and this one with Noisy Miners.  (We saw an adult come in and feed the young, but  couldn't get a decent (or indeed crummy) image of this.)
It was surprising - to say the least to find a 70cm long Murray Cod (subspecies: former) washing around on the edge of the pond.  It looked pretty sound so possibly had had a big battle with an angler who released it but not in time for it to have survived.  A week later the Canberra Times has run a story on this.
By the time we finished, the weather had warmed up and we had written down 38 species of birds.  An excellent morning!


Denis Wilson said...

A good morning;s work indeed.
I loved the shot of the tail feathers of the Musk Duck.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Denis. One of the joys of birding is going to an area and being very surprised at the diversity one finds.


Ian Fraser said...

Good stuff Martin, thanks again. I didn't know that about sexing Black Ducks - yet another reminder that we should never be too old to learn!!

Flabmeister said...

It is always interesting to have someone with Peter's knowledge (and willingness to share it) along. In a different context I quoted Cap'n Scuttle "Learning all the time"!