Sunday, 25 February 2018

A (moderately large) day birding in the ACT

As Frances was going for a day-long bird drawing class today I thought I'd have a crack at finding a few interesting birds around the Northern parts of the ACT.  A constraint was planning to take the small dog so canophobic areas such as Canberra Nature Park and Namadgi were not possible,  Here is the plan:
  1. Start at M16 Artspace in Griffith.
  2. Yerrabi Pond Amaroo - target bird is Red-capped Robin;
  3. Ibis St, Nicholls - check the Eastern side of Gungahlin Pond;
  4. Urriara Woodland - Pied Butcherbird
  5. East West Rd, Stromlo - Hooded Robin
  6. Urriara East Reserve - back up for Pied Butcherbird
  7. Edgeworth Pond Coombs - White-fronted Chat, Fairy Martin
All up the route is, according to Google ,aps, 109km.  Can I get 100 species?  I would do it on my bike but too difficult to schlep the telescope (and the small dog).

As I started off there was a very good collection of lenticular clouds over the airport.  Not the best photo but I was parked on the hard shoulder of the Majura Parkway so didn't want to muck about too much.
I got successfully to my spot at Yerrabi where it was already 30C and quite windy.  Not surprisingly given those observations there were few birds around and NO Red-capped Robins.  The small dog was finding much to sniff and not keen on leaving.
Heading towards Gungahlin Pond East I got into a traffic jam.  It seems that Gungahlin is in a constant state of poor traffic flow.
I found my next stop quite easily and it gave a quite good view of the Eastern side of the islands in the pond.  I saw one Ibis nest, but not  a cluster as per the Western side..
 Finally a bird photo!  A few Australian White Ibis and Little Black Cormorants.
Then the longest part of the drive up to the start of the Brindabellas to Urriara Woodland, reputed haunt of Pied Butcherbirds.  There was an undated notice on the gate talking about a hazard reduction burn: for once there did seem to be a lot of fuel in the shape of regenerating shrubs and brambles galore.  There was  also a sign about security cameras: why do they have them out here and not at Kellys Swamp and other places where cars are getting broken into?
 We didn't spend long there as the thermometer was up to 33 and the small dog was not keen on a walk.  No Pied Butcherbird.

A very short drive to the junction of East West and Brindabella Rds where a small fire has recently happened.  After a few moments a black and white bird perched on the top of a pine tree and Hooded Robin was ticked. 

The big dam at Urriara Homestead was looked at as well as possible through the rank grass and quickly growing pines.  Relatively few birds of quite limited diversity, so on towards  Urriara East.  This gave me a good view of the main cultural attraction of Belconnen.
In the bottom of the image the water of the mighty Molonglo is visible.  I suspect that most of this is outflow from the Cultural Centre,  As I turned in to Urriara East I was intrigued to see this sign.  Why do they have them out here and not at Kellys Swamp and other places where cars are getting broken into?
It was now up to 35C and the small dog was not at all keen on walking to find a Pied Butcherbird .  She was very keen about wading out into the Murrumbidgee and cooling off. 
 Once back on land she gave the most energetic writhe I have ever seem her do.  The compbination of water, sand and grass clippings seemed to restore he vitality very well.  The River had good flow.
My final scheduled stop was at the Edgeworth Pond where Fairy Martins and White-fronted Chats had been spotted.  Unfortunately that now looks like an internment camp with temporary (OK - its been there since at least October, so that puts a bit of stress on the word temprary) fencing.  One wonders what TAMS is hiding there.  Perhaps they don't want records of birds and other wildlife that exists before the area is totally surrounded by slums?

On which topic, here is a view of Coombs.  Even by comparison with Gungahlin this is the worst bit of urban sprawl this side of Kibera.  (That being said, Denman Prospect, currently scraped back to bedrock, may well take that crown once the McMansions have been inserted.)
I took this snap from North Weston Ponds where a couple of additional species were recorded.  As it was still 35C I didn't try persuading herself to take a stroll here.

All up I recorded 44 species for the day.  Not brilliant but allowing for the weather, and the recalcitrance of my little friend not bad.

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