Wednesday, 15 April 2015

COG does McKellar and Giralang Ponds

30 members and guests assembled at the car park of the Belconnen Soccer Club for a walk around some of the damper parts of this area of Belconnen.  This snip from Google Earth shows the various spots, with 1 being the car park.  The other numbers appear as red  in the text below.

Once all had signed on and announced themselves we first headed to a little known pond 2 in the Northern section of this open space.   The recent rains had restored some liquidity to this site.   Including the "car park list" we scored 16 species here - all pretty much as expected.
Knowing that the main McKellar Pond 3 was the haunt of Australasian Bittern and Australian Little Bittern we took ourselves off  in that direction.    It was also pretty well supplied with water.
Alas, neither of the aforementioned rarities were present.  Several more expected waterbirds were added together with Red-browed Finch and European Goldfinch.  As we moved towards the underpass to Ginninderra Creek a recently killed Nankeen Night-Heron was found.  
For various reasons I published this image well before completing the blog.  I got an almost instant comment asking about likely cause of death.  A fox seemed to be the most likely suspect although when the cadaver was first noticed it was being dragged around by an Australian Raven.

On getting under the road and onto the Creek, 4 at least two White-faced Herons were controlling the frog population in the Creek ...
... and a Collared Sparrowhawk zapped past.  There was a good flow in the Creek following the rains but no exotic waterbirds were seen.  Auatralian Reed Warblers were heard making some of their quieter calls .  Making no calls at all - very surprisingly for this species - was a flock of 20 Little Corellas.
Our arrival at the Giralang Pond 5 was rewarded by a Royal Spoonbill which moved around the pond eating as it went.  
A Spotted Dove flew past and a rather late Shining Bronze-Cuckoo was disturbed from a tree on the Northern side of the pond.  Two raptors, identified as Collared Sparrowhawks, appeared to be in a courtship display fairly high above us.

We then passed under William Slim Drive to inspect the Palmerville area,6 hoping, unsuccessfully, for Cisticolas.  We did note our only flock of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters for the day here.

Looking at other matters this European Wasp's nest was one of three spotted in the vicinity of the McKellar Ponds.  It was reported to TAMS who provided the contractor's phone number and hopefully will do something about the problem.
Less threatening was this leaf beetle dining on a Casuarina amongst all the sooty mould.
Here are some pupae of the beetles.
Autumn is happening and so is pretty foliage.
Several members commented that they had not previously been to the areas we visited today.  Hardly any of us had been to the final area!   This forest was a major surprise: unfortunately my net searching has been unable to find out anything about the area from the websites of either Landcare or the Conservation Volunteers,
It seems to be an area where trees are planted as memorials to folk - how or why there are selected is a mystery.
A bit further in is a heritage area - essentially a paddock where there was once the settlement of Palmerville.  At least this document gives an idea of what was there even though little of it is now visible.

4 comments:

Ian Fraser said...

Any apparent cause of death?

Flabmeister said...

Jeez you're in quick! When first seen the corpse was being dragged around by a Raven. A moggie was nearby, but most comments favoured fox! Death seems to have happened on the ground in the bushes nearby - but what Night-heron was doing there is a good question.

Mikayla B said...

Hi - nice report. Are you able to post a map of the ponds you visited? I tried searching for the spoonbills about a week or two ago, but I wasn't sure if I was at the correct pond/part of the ponds. I thought the McKellar pond was Giralang Pond (I think?)

Sad about the night heron - when searching for the bitterns last year, another birder told me they liked to stay in the middle on an island at one of the ponds, to keep clear of cats and foxes. This guy must have missed the memo :(

Flabmeister said...

G'day Mikayla. A good suggestion about the map: I should have done so from the get-go. I have now added one and identified what was where.

Martin