Wednesday, 21 December 2016

COG does Stoney Creek and Uriarra East

20.5 Members gathered at the Southern end of the Uriarra East Reserve for a foray into the Stoney Creek Nature Reserve.  It was already quite warm as we departed.

We had not progressed far along the track before the front persons in the group spotted a Pied Butcherbird perched in a dead tree.  Unfortunately it took itself off to the riparian Casuarina cunninghamiana before many of the group could spot it.  That was one of our target birds done and dusted.  Unfortunately the second target species, Painted Honeyeater did not present itself.

The most prominent species seen was Mistletoebird.  The checklist has 20 birds but this is a very conservative count of the many birds of this species busying themselves in the Casuarinas.
Dollarbirds (4) and Rainbow Bee-eaters (6) - note streamers -
were both evident perching high on dead stumps.  Most other species were present in small numbers.  It was unusual to see a Laughing Kookaburra and a Black-faced Cuckooshrike sitting close together.  A second Kookaburra appeared shortly after the photo was taken.
 A small group of Crested Pigeons were seen, with this one displaying both the crest and bronze patch on the wing.
It is interesting that all these photos feature birds perched on dead trees.  While this may reflect ease of getting photos it is also a comment on the utility of leaving some old dead trees around as habitat for birds.

The shingle banks in the river provided habitat for 2 Black-fronted Dotterels.  Note that a reference to "fronted" in a bird name applies to the forehead not the breast.
It was surprising that we did not see a single Woodswallow on this track.  It was also surprising that we didn't record a single cuckoo, nor Rufoous Songlark or Sacred Kingfisher.  However 41 species were recorded on this list which isn't too bad.  Our only breeding record was a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo emerging from a hollow

As it was beginning to get a tad warm and the flies, while present in numbers, were not fanning hard enough to generate a cooling breeze so we retreated to the shade of the Casuarinas at the Reserve.  Many tales were related of past sightings of rarities, but alas no novelties were present today,

The least common bird was Yellow Thornbill spotted dodging around in an Allocasuarina.  As we were heading back to the cars a Collared Sparrowhawk was seen in some eucalypts.  It was being swooped very vigorously by a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike.  The calls of a Leaden Flycatcher led to a brief search resulting in both male and female bird being seen sitting on a nest.
The checklist for this second site contains 29 species and contributed to the day's total of 50 species.

A few habitat shots may be of interest.  These are the Casuarinas in a natural(ish) setting.
These are those in the manicured setting of the picnic area.  Its probably a good thing to have somewhere nice for people to come and do BBQ etc but this looked like a fairway at a golf course.  I'm sure I'd rather  see the ACT spend their environment $ (I doubt if they have more than 1) on something a little more fundamental (such as weed control).
 A couple of snaps showing the good flow still evident in the Murrumbidgee River.

It was interesting that the hills behind the River have often been completely covered with the yellow of St John's Wort at this time of year.  The Territory emblem was not so evident this year but there were plenty of California Poppy and monster Verbascum major!


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