Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Birding the Wasteland

I meant to start with a quote from T S Eliot's poem "The Wasteland" but couldn't find anything really suitable.  So I checked out his "The Hollow Men"and if one was looking for a description of the suburb of Coombs struck gold straight away:
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion.
Or further into the poem:
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
The broken jaw of our lost Kingdom.
Back in the day Canberra's highest profile running track started at a spot off Cotter Road and went in various directions through mature pines.  As the rulers of Canberra at that time wouldn't name a road after a living person the running community decided that the forest road starting at this point would be named Deeks Drive.  They put up a sign to that effect and someone souvenired it within 24 hours.  The name stuck and was eventually commemorated with a huge official sign and a palatial toilet (which had a name plate of Deek's Dunny attached).

Unfortunately all that had now disappeared under the worst morass of ticky-tacky little boxes  passing under the suburb name of Coombs.  However the area does have 3 pondages that can be very good birding.  As I had a couple of hours to spare between appointments in Woden I took myself to visit them.

The first is beside Edgeworth Parade and thus has a birding name of Edgeworth Pond.  When I have visited there in the past I have been impressed by the way the locals use it for walking dogs and children.  Now the ACT Government cannot tolerate such things and has duly handed a few grand (or more) to some twerps to employ a few members of the CFMEU to build a further path  - or at least park some machinery around and fence off the entire area.
Thus I didn't get much of a walk in here.  However as I was about to give up in disgust I noticed a bunch of white-rumped hirudines (swallow-relatives) flying around near a bridge over these troubled waters.  They seemed to be building nests which in this position would make them Fairy Martins.  However their foreheads looked blue rather than red.  After climbing a couple of gates I got a look at the birds as they flew under the bridge (see small red arrow) and they were definitely fairy Martins
 The next pond to the east is imaginatively titled "Coombs Pond".  Itspretty small and didn't have much in the way of birds until I nearly back to my car when a fairly bland little bird made a noise like a toy trumpet.  White-fronted Chat: I eventually saw at least 7 of them.  Here are a couple of images.

 A male (far spiffier with a black breast-band and hood) was also present but didn't oblige for a photo.

On to the third pondage, with two water bodies known as North Weston Ponds.  The excitement here was sighting about 6 Whiskered Terns.  To identify them it is necessary to check the pattern on the head.
 OK, try again: that's better.  Not only definitely a Whiskered Tern but in breeding plumage!
 As I wandered around the ponds looking for (but failing to find) Lathams Snipe I noticed a dead fish on the bank .  Then I noticed a couple of schools of them, each fish about 15cm long, in the water.
I have no idea what species they are.  However my friend Con knows about fish and concluded they were highly likely to be European Carp.  When they grow up there will be a heck of a biomass in that pond.

1 comment:

sandra h said...

Re the carp you mention: Waterwatch in the ACT is asking people to keep an eye out for breeding carp, and is also interested in these gatherings of juvenile carp. Woo O'Reilly from Waterwatch mentioned the gathering at North Weston ponds when she was talking to Genevieve Jacobs this morning on the radio - someone took some video footage of these fish over the weekend. SH