Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Banded Lapwings on the Plain (again)!

A message appeared on the COG Chatline on 21 July which caused me some excitement.
Seen yesterday afternoon from Hoskinstown Road, 11 Banded Lapwing, 2 White-fronted Chat and more than 120 Magpies among other species on roadside just North of Hoskinstown.
Although there are nearly always some White-fronted Chats around close to Canberra (Stromlo Forest Park has been a good locale) this is the first time they have been reported in the Carwoola area.

Banded Lapwings are not common in this area, with the possible exception of the paddocks around Lake Bathurst, about 40km away as the Lapwing flies. There was a major incursion to the Hoskinstown Plain by the species in 2012-13 and they were reported once from Wanna Wanna Rd in 2014.  So this report pressed a few of my buttons and I fired up El Camion Real and took myself Plain-wards.

Going past the Col de Widgiewa one has a good view down into the Plain but despite it being 1030 there was still a lot of fog around.  It was still evident when I got to Captains Flat Rd:
But was definitely rising by the time I started on Plains Rd.
Getting a bit further down the road the locals were definitely staking out their territory.  My count was a minimum of 50 roos stacking some zeds in a 5Ha paddock.
I really think they are eating out the entire locality - at least here it's just grass not all the native vegetation in a Nature Reserve.

My recollection from days doing my BAgSc is that dietary stress is a major reason for a break in wool like this sheep - although this isn't a Merino (or even a Border Leicester, which was the go-to breed in the UK) so they may normally look like this.
The little lamb was cute but!

Moving from Hoskinstown to Mills Cross  the main avian action was a good number (my guess was 10) of Flame Robins.  They were even less cooperative than usual in posing for a snap.  Just before the gate into the Cross is a dam on which 2 Pink-eared Ducks were swimming.  They aren't common in the area.
A Lapwing was also present on the far edge of the dam but it was the very common Masked Lapwing rather than my target species.
At this point I checked my email and there was a message from the original observers giving detail about the location of their sightings.  It was about 3km back towards Hoskinstown, so I set off for there looking for a large collection of Magpies (which would be easier to spot than Chats or Lapwings).  Sure enough I soon spotted about 40 Magpies (and 100 Galahs and about 30 Cockies) foraging around a bunch of cattle feeding on some hay.

Scanning the area between the cattle feed and the road one of the brown lumps on the ground (which all looked, at a quick glance, to be the inevitable outcome of cattle being fed) moved.  Bingo!  Tick.
Note the dark breast-band, the different pattern of black and white around the head, and the red patch at the base of the bill, all of which are differences to the Masked Lapwing.  I had got up to four of the birds, very close to the road, when a hullabaloo broke out in the direction of the feeding cattle.  This was a further 4 Banded Lapwings doing imitations of an aerial dogfight with some Magpies.  The flying was very spectacular but eventually the birds landed - one coming to join thse by the road the overs landing near a dam about 100m away.

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