Wednesday, 17 December 2014

COG sinks the wellie into Hall

In my email reminding folk about this outing I commented:
 "...some areas out this way have been rather damp after recent rains.  Either wear old footwear or waterproof things.  Grass seeds might also be an issue so gaiters might be useful.  I would also remind people of Mark Clayton's post-blitz comment that the Reserve looks to be rather good reptile habitat: sturdy trousers, gaiters or wellies would be useful."
In the event I was the only one wearing wellies and a few hardy souls were wearing shorts!  One can entice a horse to water  ....

I thus followed my email with oral advice to watch they were putting their feet and if something wriggles under them, press down hard until everyone else has moved away.  (In the event no-one reported any reptiles of note, and we only saw a fox to represent the other Orders of Chordata.)

23 of us gathered in total and climbed the gate (as the kind ACT Government has blocked off the climb through) into the TSR and looked at the border fence.
The birds didn't worry about this administrative construct and neither did we.

Later in the walk we visited the Cemetery and found what must surely be a joy to the orchid fanciers: an unmown cemetery.
A sign near the entrance explains that is is a deliberate policy to protect the Tarengo Leek Orchids (Prasophyllum petilum).  Well done the ACT Public Cemeteries  Authority!
 OK, to birds.  There were a group - surely a family - of 4 Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes at the TSR.  We didn't see an adult feed a juvenile so not a breeding record.
 On the other hand I decided this Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was working on a nest hollow (rather than just being destructive because it could).
 A Jacky Winter was probably second-best bird.  In fact half the group was watching one bird while the rest were looking at another so there were two of them.
Best bird was undoubtedly the Crested Shrike-tit of which nearly all the group got great views, but I didn't get a snap.  Third best bird - which would have been a contender for #1 if more than one of the party had seen it - was a Brown Treecreeper which hopped around on a tree stump in front of the observer.

Sacred Kingfishers were evident throughout the walk, largely due to their calls being audible over the noise of the traffic on the Barton Highway.
This Sacred Kingfisher had a very dark (for this species) blue back and pale breast.  An unwary observer might have thought it another species.
 Few birds were at the Cemetery.  A flock of 9 Straw-necked Ibis were pleasant to see.  While looking at them another bird was spotted soaring even higher.  It was a very large bird with a clearly visible white head and dark wings.  After much consideration we concluded it was a White-necked Heron.

A second soaring bird was certainly a raptor but views were not definitive.  As we were leaving we did see this Australian Hobby in some distant dead trees dining on something - probably a cicada.
 A couple of active nests were photographed (and some others seen by some of the party).  This Willie Wagtail's nest had three little occupants.
 The adult occupant of this nest had nicked off, but was identified as a Noisy Friarbird.
We scored 39 species at the TSR and 11 at the Cemetery.  There were some surprising MIAs:

  • not one thornbill;
  • no Cuckoos seen (and the one possible call not thought by the listener to be good enough to tick); and 
  • no Rufous Whistlers.

Other than the grass (and brambles) the obvious flowers were Vanilla Lillies (Arthropodium milleflorum).
 Up in the trees there were many Christmas beetles (Anoplognathus rugosus) throughout both sites.

 A small patch of the TSR, and the trees near the road at the Cemetery, were heavily laden with cicadas.  My suspicion is that these were Clangers (aka Clear-wing cicadas) Psaltoda claripennis.
To say the least they were very, very loud.
A butterfly (Common Brown?) was also  present at the Cemetery seeming to have a liking for people's hats!
As we left the cemetery we noticed a headstone for Bryce Courtenay.  Most of us were surprised that he was buried here.   The replacement of the stone 'bed' by an outline of eucalypt bark was a nie touch.


Denis Wilson said...

Loved the shot of Bryce Courtney's grave. I know some people who were once part of his family.
It all got complicated, as the saying is.
I shall tell them about your report anyway, when I see tHem next.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Denis.

Finding the grave caused me to read the wiki article about him. That amazed me even more, as I am sure few people know he was the "inventor" of Louie the Fly, the Milky Bar Kid and "Its Time". I've put a link in the post.