Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Birds: diverse and departed

As I noted in my post about BirdaDay I went for a birding bike ride while my car was being serviced in Queanbeyan.  The route is shown in the following map: my birding bits are in blue while the transfer bits are in red.  It totalled to 30km on the bike.
Point 1 is the area referred to as Newline paddocks.  Most of my distance, and most of the diversity, were accrued here along the lane, which is a private road, although the owners/lessees involved don't object to people birding down it.
Close to the start of road there were a few puddles which attracted thirsty birds including the best of the day, two Fuscous Honeyaters.  (The 'black eye' effect was very obvious.)

As is obvious from the map image it is close to Canberra Airport and usually gives good sightings of aircraft coming or going.  As it was a tad early in the day this hot air balloon was still doing its business - and seemed to be getting bit close to becoming a hood ornament on a 737!
As the area along the lane is 'disturbed land' there are a lot of weedy things, including a lot of Pyracantha sp.  Rather than being full of berries they were floriferous: presumably the berries had entered the dispersal stream through the many parrots around the area.
Many of the trees in the area are old with a good collection of hollows.  Although it is not yet Winter, let alone Spring, many of the hollows seemed to be a good examination by species such as Wood Ducks, Common Starlings and the Crimson Rosella shown here.
This area first came to notice when a prominent local naturalist commented on the patch of Box Woodland visible from Pialligo Avenue.  Although the understorey is pretty weedy there are still a lot of nice old trees.
At present some of the trees are looking a bit used ....,
... probably due to the infestation of scale insects (aka lerp) in conjunction with the effect of the Noisy Miners dissuading Pardalotes and other lerpophages from cleaning things up.

Overall I recorded 23 species here (using Birdlog on my phone, so they were in Cornell before I got on my bike to move to site 2)!   As I rode down the road I thought this looked rather like a Geoffrey Smart painting with large areas of monochrome and clean lines.
The second site was the Redwood Grove.  Given the 3% survival rate of the trees it would seem that Weston's advice against this plantings was pretty much on the money.  Many of the trees that are left look to be doing it tough as well.
This really was an avian desert: I only recorded 4 species, and they were all in an area of remnant (or possibly regrowth) eucalypts.  So these are the departed birds!

Back on the bike and past the new bridge over the Molonglo.  I was very surprised to see that 'they' are planning a dual bridge - but reckon it is sensible to do so.
My third stop was Jerrabomberra Wetlands.  The first good bird of the day was a Cattle Egret associating with the cattle.  Then a Golden-headed Cisticola  beside the bike path and a heap of Purple Swamphens in Kelly's Swamp.  I rode along to the Kingston end of the Reserve and was pleased to see a Black-shouldered Kite checking proceedings.
A little later From Cygnus hide, at the Fyshwick end of the Reserve I saw two birds of this species, escorting some walkers from the new boardwalk.  Almost certainly a pair getting ready for nesting.

In the duck department the interest was largely the highish number of Australasian Shovelers around.  They are very obliging birds having bright orange legs which stand out when the heavy bill is not visible (eg due to being underwater).  In case you wonder how Synchronised Swimming was invented, ask no more.
As far as I could tell the ducks were not layered with waterproof makeup and inch thick scarlet lipstick: only humans could do that!

I recorded 33 species at the Wetlands, giving a pleasing 50 species for the day.

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