Wednesday, 20 June 2018

COG knows what's on the Woodlands and Wetlands.

As I drove into this outing my car rang bells at me to warn that the temperature had dropped below 4oC.  A little further along the way the Brindabellas were visible and white!
In fact the day was pleasantly mild with little wind and (unfortunately) no rain

The venue for the outing was an area of woodlands and wetlands in the suburb of Watson.  It turns out the woodlands are actually called Justice Robert Hope Park and honour Justice Robert Marsden Hope, of whom I had never heard.  His wiki entry concludes
" In 2002, a park in the Northern Canberra suburb of Watson was named in his honour in recognition of his environmental work."   
I had trouble finding a reference in material about him to great environmental work, although his first role as a Royal Commissioner (before he got tangled up with spookdom) was looking at the National Estate  - which he apparently thought was his best work.  Also "in 1978, he was appointed as the foundation chair of the council of the New South Wales Heritage Commission, a position he held until 1993."  While a document by the Watson Wetlands Working Group quotes a Canberra Times article which identifies him as "the first Director of the Commonwealth's environment department."  I have been unable to find any other evidence to support this - it isn't mentioned in his wiki, nor His official obituary!

It is interesting when looking at the ACT Environment entry for this Park to find that it is an offset to
 "compensate for the impact to the white box-yellow box-Blakely’s red gum grassy woodland, derived native grassland ecological community (box gum grassy woodland) and the regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) from residential development and the extension of Negus Crescent in North Watson. "  
As far as I can see this is some sort of daft arrangement where there are two patches of good country and the ACT Government has agreed with itself that if one bit is trashed they won't trash the other.  I am not sure I am up to the intellectual rigour of the word "offset" in that context.

While gathering, a good range of parrots and cockatoos were observed although the hoped-for Superb Parrots didn't appear.  The first of several pairs of Rainbow Lorikeets flew over indicating how this species is expanding its footprint in the ACT.

Here is a photo of the habitat in the Park:
There were several of these former trees around: unlike the similar looking stump dumps in Mullies and Goorooyaroo these do not have tags to indicate research sites, but the Watson Woodlands paper does refer to reptile research as being important here.
As we headed off we soon encountered a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike which was thought to be a little late (although reference to the Annual Bird Report indicates some birds do over-Winter).  Small birds were few in number with a group of Weebills and another of Yellow-rumped Thornbills being the exceptions.  While the Park has good tree cover there was very little shrub layer.

In total we recorded 22 species in this part of the walk (see list )



A small damp area was just inside the gate.  It could be very productive in a slightly damper year (or if crakes and rail discover it. 

We then wandered under the powerlines to the wetlands, keeping an eye open for the Apostlebird known to hang out in the area.  We didn't find it. However on getting to the wetlands (given 'Bob' Hope was our starting point, should that be the Bing Crosby Wetlands?) a Banded Rail was quickly spotted.

While I was getting a snap, the more eagle-eyed members of the group saw a second Buff-banded Rail on the street side of the pond.

A Little Pied Cormorant was reluctant to leave its perch at the base of the reeds.
 This is a view of the wetlands.
 A second Black-faced Cuckooshrike was encountered in Mary Kitson Playground (also known as Lindell's Park).
20 species were seen in this part of the outing giving a modest overall list of 29 species for the day.  

I can find nothing about Mary Kitson on Google (although allhomes and other sleazy sites have lotsa dwellings for sale there!).    This house wasn't for sale.
.The design did remind me of the t-shirt design "Call of the Wild"

 but on checking I didn't think they are likely to score a copyright action.

As I drove home I'd just got to the airport when Lindell rang: she'd found the Apostle bird at the corner of Negus St and the Park.  She subsequently said in an email:
That bird is so tame. When it saw me get out of the car it actually came running across the road to me - I could almost touch it. A couple of the residents came out too - they feed it seed from multigrain bread and sesame seeds from buns - it’ll even eat from their hand. I suggested that bread wasn’t good but they assured me it was only the seed!


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