Monday, 5 January 2015

An excellent expedition for birds

As Frances was occupied on other duties today I took myself off to darkest Gungahlin to check out some birds.  I began with Mulligans Flat which is on the Eastern side of this township (Noweto?).

My basic plan was to do a lap of the Big Dam and anywhere else that seemed interesting.  Walking towards the gate into the Sanctuary I noticed how heavily the area was grazed.
 Once into the Sanctuary the vegetation was in much better condition.
The main villain is almost certainly this chap and his several similar colleagues (who were lurking outside the sanctuary).
That being said I noticed several rabbits outside the sanctuary.  This sign on the gate suggests there may be less inside ...
 ... although if the bunnies react to this, as they did to myxomatosis in the UK, by living out of warrens it won't completely solve the issue.

This lovely sight greeted me almost as soon as I got through the gate.  The ACT Government gets a modest bouquet for repairing the dam wall.  (It would have been a great big bouquet if it hadn't taken them about 10 years to do it!)
 Before I got to bird the Dam I got my Bird of the Day in the shape of a Peregrine Falcon which overflew me and headed off to get a meal along Horse Park Drive.

There were a lot of Ibis lurking around beneath ...
 .. and above the dead trees in the dam.  This is the sort of arrangement that always reminds us of pictures in a kids counting book - How many ibis in the tree?
A close up of a Straw-necked Ibis, clearly showing the straws.
 Two Australian White Ibis.  I am intrigued by the yellow patch on the back of the head- HANZAB mentions a pink patch in that area.  The yellow stained feathers on the tail have an easy explanation which I am disinclined to spell out.
One of 4 Royal Spoonbills with a very impressive nuchal crest.

The literature (OK, HANZAB) mentions a creamy-yellow wash on the neck due to straw-like feathers and I presume this bird is displaying particulary fine collection of these.
 There were several (at least 6)  Latham's Snipe along the muddy shore, 2 or 3 Black-fronted Dotterel and at least 5 red-kneed Dotterel.
 All the expected Ducks were present, plus 16 Freckled Ducks, as revealed by the unmistakeable silhouettes members of of this flotilla.  I assume the resurgence of this species is due to restrictions on carnage in most States.
 Very few flowers were seen but there was a nice collection of Lemon Beauty Heads (Calocephalus citreus) in a well roo-grazed area outside the sanctuary,
There were also quite a lot of Blue Devils (Eryngium ovinum) but they were rather small and thus not photographed.

As there had been several messages to the COG chatline about Crakes breeding in the Forde ponds - essentially next to Mullies - I decided to check it out.  It was pleasing to see the reminders that cats are to be controlled on all the street signs.
A good view of a Great Egret (note gape going behind the eye) was a pleasing start.
 It was also a highlight of this part of the trip.  Other than the 'Eternal Three' of Coot, Swamphen and Moorhen no crakes or rails were spotted.  I did however get a bonus in that the 5 Superb Parrots which overflew me in Mullies were perched in a tree in Forde.
 My final stop was Kellies Swamp.  It was fairly quiet although 10 Pink-eared Duck were nice to see.  If you look closely at this image you might just pick up the pink ear!
An intermediate Egret was present here, but seemed very skittish.  You can see the gape finishes in front of the eye (which would have been clearer if the bird was as in focus as the grass stems in front of it - I must practice manual focusing)!
 I finish with this image of a sign at the Fyshwick Sewage Works. It is now 2015 so the project which has been keeping us out of the area is well past the expected completion date advertised on this sign (highlight added by me to image - but augmenting the sign might be a good idea).


Denis Wilson said...

Nice post Martin.
Pink-eared Duck is a stunner.

Flabmeister said...

hanks Denis. It definitely helped that they were perched on one of Michael's logs, only about 10m from the hide! By contrast the Freckled Flotilla at Mullies were about 100m away

Ian Fraser said...

My thanks again - I'd not made the trek to the big dam for a while, with houses being so close now and it being damaged, so I'd not realised it is now repaired. I've always reckoned it could be the best wetland in the ACT and now I think it probably is, not having the restrictions imposed on Mullies from having the airport nearby.

Flabmeister said...

When you said "... the restrictions imposed on Mullies from having the airport nearby." I think you actually meant "Kelly's". That business really annoys me as many airports (notably Kennedy at Jamaica Bay) are surrounded by wildfowl habitat with no problems. The report that the restrictions are based upon was classic paranoia "There has never been a problem but there might be ! Booga booga booga."

Ian Fraser said...

Oops, yes I did mean Kelly's of course - just testing...