Wednesday, 20 January 2016

COG finds big numbers at Mulligan's Flat

Possibly the biggest number was the roll up of COG members and guests: 39 folk (I have obfuscated faces to defeat face recognition if anyone had said they were going to a Meeting rather than an Outing) ...
... braved a 5km walk and the forecast top of 33oC.  This led to a question of whether there had ever been a COG outing with more observers than species recorded?  {I suspect the answer is yes: one walk when the temperature was about 4oC with strong winds and sleet, 5 members arrived and saw 4 species.}  We did much better with 1.564 species per punter!

The basic walk followed the red line in this image below.
The group strung out along the main track up the hill to the gate into the Sanctuary.  Apart from the tuneless noises of Noisy Miners the main excitement was an immature Grey Butcherbird displaying independence by battering a moth against a rock.  
We followed the Western boundary of the Sanctuary with most members achieving sightings of a male White-winged Triller and some lucky folk getting definite views of a Jacky Winter.  Two Dollarbirds visited one another in a dead tree before flying off into the heart of the Reserve. I didn't get photos of any of those but a Willie Wagtail obliged.
 The Big Dam still has a good level of water and was supplied with waterbirds in good diversity albeit generally low numbers.  Not that one should sneer at 11 Freckled Duck!  Other less common species of duck were 12 Pink-eared Duck and 2 Australasian Shovelers with Hardhead and Grey Teal adding to the mix.  Despite determined peering, no Pacific Black Ducks or Australian Wood Ducks were evident.  A White-faced Heron flew over and 6 Australian White Ibis and one Royal Spoonbill were seen on the far side of the dam.  Shorebirds were represented by 4 Masked Lapwing, a flushed Latham’s Snipe and 1 Black-fronted Dotterel.

The brown haze in this image is not crappy photography (for a change) but the Horny Sons of Toil from the CFMEU setting up a new rest home for the hard earned $ of the citizens of Canberra in an elegant new tree free 'burb.  Hopefully the boundary fence will be retained and reinforced when they have finished.
 We travelled back via a lightly different route to the gate out of the Sanctuary.  Several small flocks of Eastern Rosellas were seen, but to my surprise I didn’t note down any Crimson Rosellas.  Arriving back at the small dams - again with a good amount of liquid.....

 .... close to the shearing shed a nice mixed flock of the usual thornbills was noted.  Some entertainment was gained by counting and recounting and recounting a flock of White-winged Choughs: the eventual total was 22 birds in three groups of 9, 7 and 6 birds. 

Two echidnas were then found, although from their view we didn't exist

The explanation for the coloured straws in the back of the second specimen was well displayed in a notice on the Sanctuary gate.
 A Shingleback was of interest to most members and had it charged a posing fee would have been a rich reptile!
Arriving back at the car park most members headed for other part but about 9 of us dropped down to the Mulligan’s Flat Rd ponds (blue line in map above) to see if we could hunt up some crakes or rails.  The best we managed in that regard was a family of Eurasian Coots with feeding observed giving a breeding record. It was delightful to see Fairy Martins flying into a group of nests in an underpass on Mulligan’s Flat Road.
We headed up to a further underpass where Crails had been seen recently but alas that cupboard was bare except for about 15 Common Mynas, 1 Australasian Pipit ...
and another 2 Black-fronted Dotterels.

For those who don't like arithmetic I noted down 61 species (but only 56 of those were on the formal part of the stroll.

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