Monday, 30 March 2015

Birds flock up

Today I decided to go for a cruise to a few birdie spots.  The weather was OK, but allegedly 'cloudy'.  Now my understanding of  'cloud' is water droplets.  This view of the dirty 'cloud' trapped in the Murrumbidgee Valley by an inversion suggests that if there is water in it, it has coalesced around the smoke particles generated by State-sponsored vandalism in the form of huge habitat reduction burns.
It bewilders me that we have just had the fire season extended because of elevated risk levels while the RFS are carbonising everything they can apply a match to.

The overcast - whatever its cause - made the light rather polarised and thus difficult to get acceptable snaps.  However there are a few which might be of interest in what follows.

I began by heading east to check a few dams near the Mills Cross Telescope in case the Plumed Whistling Ducks had returned there.  They hadn't, but there were 13 Australasian Shovelers - a high number for this area -  on a dam.
It is now the official Hawthorn fruit season.  ( I am not implying that the Hawthorn Football club are a bunch of fruits: that would probably get David Pocock annoyed with me.)  In stead I am referring to the roads of the area being replete with haws (I am not implying that the Hawthorn FC  .....) which are a popular dietary item for Gang-gang Cockatoos. In this case the male is above the female.
This image shows 11 of the flock of 21.  Again a high number for the area, although in the past a flock of 100 has been seen at this time of the year.
This gets in under the spiffy image rule.  Also, the pose is very typical for the species.
A pair of Red-rumped Parrots were nearby.  Here is a very colourful male, showing the red rump!
 Moving a tad North to Bungendore Meadow Dam there were 100 (and that is a count not an estimate)  Australian Shelduck on the dam or spread around the surrounding paddock feeding.  At one time this would have been a "rip your shirt off and dance in the street" exciting sighting.  However there have been a couple of sightings recently of up to 150 of the species in this locale.  So it is just a good sighting.  There were also about 150 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos around the cattle feeders.

Ducking around the corner to Trucking Yard Lane I initially though there were very few Plumed Whistling Duck present.  Then I counted and got to 52: well below maximum counts for this season but two years ago the thorax would have been bared for a flock this size.
 This image includes a couple of Grey Teal and Pacific Black Ducks for comparison
 There were also another 50 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in the background and then at least 100 Galahs flew in.
 My main intention had been to go to the Newline Paddocks close to Canberra Airport.  The primary paddock was as dry and dismal as I have ever seen it, with very few birds.  However going down the lane leading to the quarry improved things rather well.  The first exciting bird was a Black-shouldered Kite (which I suspect is an immature bird as some buff colouring can be picked up on the breast).
A pair of Rainbow Lorikeets have been seen in this area for some years.  This is, I believe, the only example in this sub-region of them setting up residence outside the Canberra urban area.  On this visit I initially spotted 1 ....
 ... then it was joined by a friend ...
.. and I could hear another pair calling nearby, so that is 4, suggesting a successful nesting

Other largish groups seen along the Lane were 20 Eastern Rosellas; 53 Starlings; 10 Dusky Woodswallows; 10 Noisy Friarbirds and 10 Red-rumped Parrots.

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