Wednesday, 18 November 2015

COG does Red(-hot) Hill

25 members and guests gathered in Buxton St Deakin for a prowl around the NW section of this element of Canberra Nature Park.  Thanks to Ian and Lindell for leading.

It was already warm, and the developing wind over the mountains was breaking the clouds into interesting patterns.

I was regretting not moving to an 8:30 start.  The first third of the walk was uphill, to a lesser or greater extent, through bush with not a great deal of understorey.
There was not a great diversity of birds either: while a number of birds were evident they were nearly all Noisy Miners! A pleasing exception was a Speckled Warbler seen by several members.

Where the walk went parallel to the Golf Course (only one Raven-sown golf ball was found) the understorey became more evident;
... the number of noisy Miners decreased and the diversity of birds picked up.

Particularly good sightings along this stretch included a Common Bronzewing feeding a fledgling and a pair of Gang-gangs changing duties in a nest hollow (thus an 'ON' breeding record).
Other parrot species recorded breeding here included an Eastern Rosella ...
 ... with no tail (and thus a recent fledgling) and another sitting in a spout,
and was a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.
A pair of Laughing Kookaburras were carrying food - a spider in at least one case) into a hollow from which the dulcet tones of nestlings could be heard.  (As the birds seemed reluctant to enter in our presence we left them to it - which was good for for the Jackasses, but bad for the spiders.)  This clip from an image by Lindell shows the food being carried in:
I don't think that's a spider -  possibly a grasshopper.  A varied diet is good for little Kookas.

Here is a further Kookaburra:
Smaller species observed in this section included both local species of Pardalote, Brown and Buff-rumped Thornbills, and Weebill.  A single Dusky Woodswallow was seen flying over the canopy: this species seems to be in lower numbers this year.  Although not really small, a Dollarbird was seen in the area where the species has nested in recent years.

Two Pacific Koels were heard calling: one somewhat distant in Hughes while the other was amost certainly in the Reserve and thus countable on the trip-list.  Our final notable bird was a Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike carrying nesting material.

In total we recorded 29 species, of which 8 were observed at some section of the breeding continuum.  Of interest were the Missing In Action:

  • no Cuckoos, other than the Koel; 
  • no Honeyeaters other than the big aggressive 3 - Noisy Miner, Noisy Friarbird and Red Wattlebird; and 
  • no Finches of any species.

Possibly this is a logical outcome of the understorey being eradicated.

Although not bird related Butterflies have wings and quite a few Caper Whites were moving around, continuing the migration discussed yesterday in email exchanges.  There were also some interesting plants.  Acacia mearnsii was flowering profusely,
but didn't seem to be attracting many birds.  We found one nice patch of Arthropodium fimbriatus (que? surely that should be 'fimbriatum' or is it a case where the taxonomist who named it must be followed regardless of their poor declension skills?)
Towards the end a patch of interesting mauve members of the Fabaceae were found.
My initial call of Lotus australis appears to have been confirmed.


sue catmint said...

What a wonderful walk, thanks for sharing. The photo of the kooka eating the grasshopper is superb. And what a lot of birds you saw. I recently had a lot of white butterflies in my Melbourne garden and wasn't sure what they were - now I think they must have been Caper Whites.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Sue. The next post deals with Caper Whites and I shall refer to your comment there.