Wednesday, 18 March 2015

COG does Gigerline

In sending out some notes about this outing I included "The forecast is for a possible shower (I wish)  ......  As I drove out in the middle of a thunderstorm ...
 ...  I mused upon the adage "Be careful what you wish for as you might get it."

When I joined a fair horde of folk already at Williamsdale  everyone was sitting in the cars  sheltering from the downpour.  More and more folk rolled up (including a Security Guard who decided to justify his existence by asking if we were planning to enter the old servo) ending with 26 folk .  At least, I think that is how many there were as the sign-on sheet disintegrated before the last few used it.

For the first time in my memory there were raised brollies on a COG outing, as well as many varieties of raincoats.  Full scuba gear might also have been appropriate.

After consulting the BoM on various phones, all of which suggested it was raining, we decided to person-up (the phrase "man-up" would not reflect the gender balance of the group) and migrated about 500m back towards Canberra.  Here the weather suddenly improved.
..  and we set off across a soggy meadow of African Lovegrass and crossed a small creek.  There were birds everywhere.  By the time we moved on from climbing the fence I had written down over 20 species.  Notable were 4 species of finch: Double-barred and Red-browed Finch; European Goldfinch; and Diamond Firetail.  The last species was carrying grass stems, presumably to build a roost, rather than an incubation nest.  Two Scarlet Robins and 2 Jacky Winters were other good sightings.  Several Dusky Woodswallows were swooping around and occasionally perching for a preen.
 As we moved off a flock of 70 Common Starlings was noticed - possibly a tad early for building up into the large flocks of Winter.  An Australian Raven was pulling  bark from a Eucalyptus rossii and appearing to eat invertebrates which were lurking thereunder.  With dark eyes the bird was probably less than three years old.
 A number of migrant species were observed on our way to the drop into the Murrumbidgee Valley including White-throated and Western Gerygone,Rufous Whistler and Sacred Kingfisher.  The first of two Fan-tailed Cuckoos appeared at this point, showing the chestnut breast and yellow eye ring.
 The eye-ring is also just visible in this image, of the second Cuckoo which preferred a shadier spot.
A distant raptor was provisionally identified as a Brown Falcon which was confirmed on the way back when the bird obliged by a nice flypast.  The other identified raptors of the day were a group 3 Wedge-tailed Eagles.

On descending to the Murrumbidgee most people had a nice sit down (and muttered about morning tea - this isn't ANPS!).  2 Eastern Yellow Robins were seen and heard as were Tree Martins, Welcome Swallows and White-throated Needletails (estimated as at least 6 of each).  We soon heard the distinctive calls of Rainbow Bee-eaters and 3 birds appeared soon after.  One was kind enough to pose on a tree top.
Further excitement was generated by at least 2 Brown Treecreepers close to the River and 4 Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters in trees along the bank.  Lindell was able to get a 'record' photo.
Climbing back up from the River and all did very well on this pretty steep track further low level fly-pasts by White-throated Needletails gave most members an excellent view.  Our final exciting bird was seen halfway back to the cars: the lack of a clear eye-stripe indicated Shining Bronze-Cuckoo.
 I have included this White-winged Chough as a contrast to the Raven seen earlier.
In total I wrote down 56 57 species (including the 7 Little Ravens which I saw in NSW, but was assured they flown across the road from the ACT, and a Red Wattlebird seen early on which had been overlooked in compiling the list!)  As far as I can work out this is the most species seen in a single day on a COG outing.  WOWSA!  An excellent day's birding for the quite large group who braved the very ordinary weather at the start.

I then headed off to Sullivans Creek to try for the Great Crested Grebes seen the previous day.  They weren't present as far as myself, Lindell or Jean could see, but a near submerged Darter was amusing.

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