Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Don't be a Stranger Pond at Pine Island

21 members and guests​ gathered on Don Dunstan Drive for a lap of Stranger Pond and a trip to the Murrumbidgee at Pine Island. 
On finding that the surrounding suburb was Bonython, I was contemplating how the Labour Premier of South Australia would react to being grouped with one of the 12 elite families of Adelaide.  Reflecting on the energy with which Warren and Kym (see second para in particular) explored their wide range of  interests I reckon Donny would not be unhappy.

Despite a very ordinary forecast (and some very ominous clouds) the weather was kind.
As we began our lap of the Pond a range of common waterbirds ​were noted with a mixed flock of Coots and Pacific Black Ducks coming across the Pond, either expecting (wrongly) to be fed bread) or escaping a dog being walked..  An Egret on the far bank was inspected closely and confirmed as an Eastern Great Egret.  
New Holland Honeyeaters flew off into the nearby houses and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike was a bit of a surprise at this time of year.  As we neared the dam wall there was some discussion of the specification of a small grebe which was resolved to being a Hoary-headed.  Almost instantly 2 definite Australasian Grebes were seen, with one showing, from some angles, breeding plumage. 
We totaled 32 species on this site.

We passed through a belt of woodland to the car park at Pine Island South where we came under macropodial inspection.
Thornbills were evident in the shrubs along the river bank, and members eventually identified Buff-rumped, Brown and a single Yellow Thornbill.​  
Interestingly no-one identified a scrubwren on the outing.)  A pair of Scarlet Robins were celebrating their status  as 'vulnerable' by munching on grubs.  The female had finishing dining by the time I got the camera out.
At least 3 Golden Whistlers were seen with 2 identified as non-adults with rufous colouration on their wings.  Rosellas were present in larger that usual numbers with 8 Crimson and 12 Eastern Rosellas seen in this area.  25 species were seen here.

For the total trip we recorded ​47 species.

As we were walking back we noticed a very dense burst of blossom on an Ironbark.
We immediately thought that we were not too far (according to Google Earth, about 600m) from the area  where a Regent Honeyeater was seen last year in flowering ironbarks.  We watched this tree briefly but nothing interesting was seen.

This was the first time I had tried using BirdLog to record species on the walks (although another member of the group has been using the application for a while).  There were a few issues (such as working out how to delete a species added in error) and I probably should not have sent the checklists Cornell-wards until after the call over (or remembered my ebird password).  Other members reckoned I spent more time entering data than I would with a pen and a notebook, but allowing for the time I would have spent at home entering the data subsequently, I think it is another large step in the right direction.  (Using eBird being the first very big step that way.)  

It is also nice to think that the data is safely in a database on the far side of the Pacific, before I have left the site.

A further advantage of using eBird is that it is possible to extract reports from their database, rather than relying on the goodness-of-heart of a database manager.  For this outing I had downloaded a report for an ad-hoc polygon (many thanks to the nice guy who developed this facility) covering both sites, intending to use that as a back list if I ran into major problems with  Birdlog.  The condition didn't arise, so I didn't use it in the field.  However, on comparing that list with what we saw we added 2 species: Australian King Parrot and New Holland Honeyeater to the eBird listing. 

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