Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Hunt for Red (in) October

It is October and I was after a bird with 'red' in its name so I thought it OK to subvert the title of one of the least interesting movies I have ever seen.

A number of local birders had reported seeing a Red-backed Kingfisher near Verran Piace in Curtin.  There is something about this area that attracts rare birds as it is the only spot in the ACT where an Australasian Figbird has been seen.   (Actually the fact is probably not simply that the rare birds come here, but that a local resident is an excellent birder who does a lot of work to ensure he thoroughly examines the birds, and gets rewarded for his efforts.)

The basic environment is harshly mown grass and exotic trees along a storm drain.  As an observer has commented
"Not visible on the Google Earth image forwarded by {A N Other} are two items that allow immediate classification of Yarralumla Creek as '2' on the little known STI* - an abiotic urban water quality scale, a surrogate for aquatic biota health. CSIRO have not adopted this measure despite ease of calculation by citizen scientists.*STI - shopping trolley index.""
 While confirming that these were in fact shopping trolleys, and not misplaced yabby traps, My attention was caught by movement in the drain.  Not a Kingfisher hunting reptiles but the reptile itself: a Gippsland Water Dragon.
 After several minutes searching and listening for the calls of the Kingfisher (with no success) I heard other calls from the air.  They didn't sound like Kingfishers and so they weren't.  I suspect this is a tandem jump - or else an octopus has learnt a new lifestyle.  They landed in a nearish paddock.
 After about 36 minutes of trudging up and down, and having places to go and things to do, I was heading back to my car when I noticed a dot on a powerline.
Bingo: that is not just a dot, it is the Red-backed Kingfisher!

No comments: