Wednesday, 20 April 2016

An excellent COG Outing to what little is left of Namadgi National Park

When something is in complete chaos it was often said, in less politically correct times, that the lunatics have been put in charge of the asylum.  After looking at the TAMS bushfire Management Plan for the next short while I can imagine a similar comment about the people in charge of bushfires. Here is their map:
Those three fires are Honeysuckle (2,300 Ha) Brandy Flat(3,800 Ha) and South Booth (1,800Ha).  The Brandy Flat one is apparently still causing heavy smoke over the Glendale Depot area so we have had to shift the walk.

I will comment in passing that I hope no-one in the ACT Government is still wondering why bush birds are declining in the area.  Even visually-challenged Frederick should be able to work that out.

But wait there is more!  Not steak knives but a sign at the start of the walk
indicates a burn about twice the size of Brandy Flat (so about 8,000 hectares) has also been prescribed.  At least they have stopped referring to them as Hazard Reduction Burns but simply Prescribed Burns.  I would love to see the science that says this is an acceptable way of treating the plant and animal communities of a National Park

After that very depressing start let us move on to what turned out to be a very good walk (or rather, set of walks).

Jumping forward a little here is the view from the Cypress Pines Lookout.  It was a bit of a step to get but we made it .
It should be noted that a major outbreak of iPhone use occurred at the Lookout as various con-trails were visible leading to much contention by various Flight Radar apps as to which plane was at what height and going where!  I suppose they had wings so it wasn't really bad discipline!

A male Scarlet Robin is always nice to see.  We recorded these in a couple of spots on the lower parts of the trek.
Throughout the 2.25 km ascent to the Cypress Pines Lookout we could see and hear migrating Honeyeaters flying just above the foliage and occasionally settling. At the start most of the birds were Yellow-faced Honeyeaters but as we went up the proportion of White-naped Honeyeaters increased. (Since the proportion of White-naped remained high later in the day at lower sites it could be suggested that the change in proportion was more a factor of time than height.) It is almost impossible to have an accurate count of the birds but amongst the group we considered 400 Yellow-faced and 150 White-naped to be reasonable estimates.

2 Wedge-tailed Eagles (of which this was one) 
were soaring over the ridge behind the lookout when we got there, eventually disappearing over towards the summit of the mountain. The descent was a little less demanding, and delivered a few more species including 2 Jacky Winters on some dead timber in an open paddock. 
We totaled 24 species of birds in this part of the outing (they are listed at this page), and also 2 species of orchids (Eriochilus cucullatus and this Dipodium revolutum).
After a pause for sustenance we ventured down to the River passing by the toolsheds of the Centre. While at the Gudgenby River, as well as world's biggest example of Verbascum major ...
we saw the most exciting action of the day with 3 Wedge-tailed Eagles overflying, 2 of which performed a spectacular talons locked tumbling flight. Returning to the Centre the distinctive call of a Peaceful Dove was heard and the bird soon spotted. 
The call then became stereophonic and 2 Peaceful Doves were evident in the one tree.
 We recorded 22 species in the grounds of the Centre as this checklist shows.

A few members departed before the final foray to the Tharwa Sandwash. One of the departees was kind enough to swing by that site and send a text giving precise directions to the roosting Tawny Frogmouths.
It was suggested that the female was a new subspecies the "Long-tailed Tawny Frogmounth".  I hesitate to think was a DNA sequencer would do with a smaple from the tail!
 Having ticked them a few more members had other commitments but 6 of us walked along the basic track. A few more migrating honeyeaters were logged (2/3 Yellow-faced) as were a number of additional bush birds. We totalled 24 species on this stage of the trip.

Overall we recorded 47 species of birds for the day.
It was very disappointing to see that the p[icnic tables at the site had been vandalised (again) and this was evidence that some folk can carry full bottles to a site but not carry the empties out.
At out furthest point looking across the Murrumbidgee into the Eastern Section of Gigerlien we spotted at least 8 little piggies.  This image which shows the location of the grunters and their direction of movement, has been sent to the Ranger.

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