Sunday, 4 October 2015

A walk to Mulligan's Big Dam

On 3 October I visited the Big Dam area of Mulligan's Flat to show off a few of the local birds to a visiting researcher from Edinburgh U.  Unfortunately the wind was blowing a bit by the time we got there which seemed to make the small birds hard to spot. I was surprised that we didn't hear a single call from a Pallid or Fan-tailed Cuckoo, and quite a few other species that I'd reckon as 'gimmes' in any patch of ACT bush were not marked off.

On reviewing my eBird list we got 39 species which wasn't too bad.  Several of them lifers for my guest, which is always nice.

Pretty much as soon as we got to the dam a female (by size) Australian Hobby flew past us, stooping to near the water and flying to a dead tree for brunch.

This close up shows both the prey and the astonishing flexibility of the toe holding it down.
The water level in the dam was much higher than I had expected, after allowing for the very dry September out our way.  This meant that much of the mud which I had hoped might hold a few waders was not evident.   We did score 2 Red-kneed Dotterel and 1 Black-fronted Dotterel when we had nearly finished our circuit.
When birds are helpful in perching in a picturesque way I feel  obliged to take a snap.  Thank you Kookaburras!
 As we dodged some thickish reeds this cluster of eggs were noticed - and fortunately not impacted by my size 10s.  My initial thought was that they might be Lapwing eggs as a pair of Masked Lapwings were getting agitated nearby.  However they didn't actually attack us so perhaps not: watch this space for more.
Advice from a respected naturalist gave a vote for Masked Lapwing.  Apparently it is only the older birds that go really postal when aliens intrude on their space.

The only less usual duck seen were a pair of Pink-eared Ducks.  I could turn anything into a Freckled Duck.

As we got into the Reserve we heard a Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo calling, but couldn't spot it.  After we had spent ~90 minutes circling the dam it was still calling and this time I was able to find it.
The appropriate expression would be plain as a pikestaff!

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