Thursday, 17 March 2016

COG finds better weather on the Lake

On a pleasantly mild day 21 members and guests, including a visitor from Alberta, attended the walk. Both attributes were an improvement from the 4 members (including the leader and spouse) who were present on the last WW to the site when the temperature was also 4 and snow showers fell!

Pleasant weather was evident in this view over Tallaganda as I left home.
It was slightly surprising that several long-standing members of the group had never visited the Pryor Arboretum before. Perhaps they had been dissuaded by the weedy and blackberry-rich vegetation. That has been subject to a lot of improvement in the recent past ...
... and with ready access to the Lake is now a pleasant area.  The car park suggested that the area was subject to some of the less pleasant sides of current life in Canberra:
It was interesting that we encountered a fair number friendly pooches none on leads but all pretty much under control of the owners.  That included these two humungous Wolfhounds.
For the day as a whole we recorded 46 species, compiling separate checklists for the Pryor Arboretum area and the Acacia Inlet segment.
Our first section was a loop of the Pryor Arboretum, mainly close to the shore of Lake Burley Griffin. A good selection of the commoner waterbirds were with some debate about the boundaries of the site. 4 Silver Gulls sitting on the buoy line at Scrivener Dam were excluded but we were able to count the 3 Gulls which flew past much closer to our position. An Australasian Reed-Warbler was seen in the fringing reeds.
In terms of landbirds, no rarities were seen. The most interesting sightings were three species of columbid: Feral Rock Dove ...

Crested Pigeon  ....

 and Common Bronzewing (female)
A group of 23 White-winged Choughs. To achieve that size it is likely it was 2 clans travelling together.  (Whatever their aviography they were getting a warm welcome from the Magpies.)
A total of 38 species were seen on this segment.
The second section of the outing, down the well-used bike path to Acacia Inlet Park, was initially quite devoid of birds in the long Themeda grassland. A Grey Currawong was foraging in the ribbons off a Eucalyptus viminalis beside the path.
On arriving at the Park a modest flock of Dusky Woodswallows were hawking over the canopy. The canopy was well occupied with a large number (estimated as 19) of White-plumed Honeyeaters with a handful of sedentary Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Several Australasian Swamphens were grazing in the shorter grass and 11 Eurasian Coots were swimming in the Lake.
28 species were seen in this section, 8 of them being additions to the trip list.
During the species call it was noticeable how few Summer migrants were seen or heard. No Noisy Friarbird, Tree Martin, Leaden Flycatcher, Dollar nor Cuckoo of any species. Has the recent hot dry weather caused them to vote with their wings or were we just unlucky?

An interesting sighting beside the Lake was a swarm of wasps hanging off a large leaf.
For some reason I was not keen on disturbing them so kept my distance, but from having had a reasonably close look at a similar individual a little earlier I think they were Paper Wasps Polistes sp.

We also had a chance to see some of the works of man.  First up a rather strange mobile sculpture in the National Arboretum area 
and then the servants entrance to Government House.
I did notice a couple of Plodlets proceeding about Mr Plod business but they didn't seem concerned about 20 folk peering out of the bushes with binoculars.

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