Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Not yet melted

The weather forecast for the next three days is looking a tad ordinary with maxima of 35-36oC  so I thought I should take the chance to get out for at least most of the day. I had my binoculars with me to see what I could scare up in the way of birds.

The first venue was to meet daughter and grand-daughter for a lap of the Central Basin of Lake Burley Griffin.  As we crossed Parkes Way I looked at the traffic banked up on the road and thought how lucky I was not to work any more.
Why is there so much traffic?  In part it is because the people in the outer reaches of the urban area seem not to have heard of car pooling.

When I have looked into Census data on journey to work in the past it has resolved to an average of 1/5th of the people travelling by car doing so as a passenger.  I have also observed this when running early in the morning in most of Australia's State capitals.

This morning I did a quick check as the walked across Kings Avenue bridge.  We crossed with 55 passenger vehicles (not counting taxis) and only 1 of them had a passenger!

This is the view looking back down the Lake from near Kings Avenue.
 I recorded 22 species in this phase of the expedition which I thought quite reasonable.  Especially as I had the small dog to worry about and to keep alert to idiots on bicycles who seem not to realise the difference between:

  • a bunch sprint on the Champs Elysee; and 
  • commuting on a shared facility!

This view was looking West as we crossed back over Commonwealth Avenue.
Frances then went to a class at the School of Art and the small dog and I headed out to the Weston Creek ponds.  Like most of the water bodies around Canberra the official purpose of this pond is to allow the sediment and other crud to drop out of the water flowing down a Creek to drop out before it gets into the Murrumbidgee.  It is still a pretty desolate as the planted trees haven't yet grown - which is quite surprising as there is very good regrowth in the nearby pine forest, following a bush fire in 2001.

The obvious birding attraction is the ponds themselves.  A concrete wall - perhaps some sort of baffle to trap the burger wrappers and energy drink cans - is out in the middle of one pond and is often a good roost for fowl of various sorts.  The most interesting birds today were 2 Pink-eared Ducks, just out of this image.
 As we completed our tour of this area I heard at least 2 White-fronted Chats calling from a fenced off area.  However that is good enough for Bird of the Day!  This area totaled 17 species.

Our final visit was to an area known as Narrabundah Hill.  I have no idea why it is called that, as it is at least 10km from the suburb of the same name.  It used to be a pine forest until the January 2003 bush fires when the forest basically exploded, taking the most of the suburb of Duffy with it.  Quite a lot of the pines have regrown and some areas have been replanted to eucalypts.

It was very weedy with lots of hawthorns, brambles and St John's Wort when out of the pines.
One of our friends uses this as her local patch and reports very good bird lists on her visits to the area.  She probably doesn't do so late morning at close to 30oC!  My list was only 19 species, dominated numerically by Superb Fairy-wrens, Silvereyes and Common Starlings, mainly feeding on and around the brambles and hawthorns.  Double-barred Fnches were the back-up for Bird of the day.

The total bird list for the day was 44 species, which quite surprised me.  The only species seen at all three sites were Superb Fairy-wren and Australian Magpie, A further 8 species were seen at 2 of the sites.

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