mid- week bus trip

Wed 06 September 2017 08:00am

Jack Holland, Jenny Bounds

Jenny Bounds and Jack Holland are planning another bus trip for this date.  Some aspects are expected to be the same as previous trips; ie cost of $20 for transport by two 12-seater buses, starting at 8 am, and running until mid-afternoon (please bring morning tea and lunch).  However, as it’s a week day it allows consideration of destinations which would not normally be visited on a weekend bus trip.  The point of departure will also be different and we’ve been looking at relatively central places accessible by public transport and where the all day parking is free.  Current places being investigated include adjacent to Cooleman Court on the western side of Liardet St Weston that abuts Streeton Drive, or the part of the Curtin shops car park adjacent to the Statesman Hotel.  However, our attention has been drawn to the much larger, more central, free car park off Macgregor St Deakin behind (to the west of) the Fitness First Gym.Once the day’s itinerary is more settled intending participants will be advised of the meeting spot.

To keep it fresh we are again looking at changing the specific objectives of this trip.  These are still being discussed but we again plan to visit some spots where participants may not normally go and will be able to see some interesting birds.  The final itinerary (and point of departure/parking) will depend on some reccies beforehand, as well as which birds have been reported around the time.

If you are interested in participating in this usually popular outing, please contact Jack Holland (6288 7840 H or by email on jandaholland@bigpond.com) to book your seats.  Could you please advise when booking if you will be using public transport to get to the meeting point, and from where?

Post event report

Jenny Bounds and I moved this trip back from its recent late August time to ensure we would both enjoy warmer weather and also see more spring/summer migrant species.  However, the weather for the week could hardly have been more wintry, in particular the very strong and cold winds on the day before.  Nevertheless, twenty participants braved the less than promising conditions and joined us on this annual COG event.  In keeping with a “mystery” tour our itinerary was not announced and, as we headed towards the mountains covered with lots of new snow, some participants wondered out loud if it would be a “birds in the snow” trip.

Our first stop was at Casuarina Sands; there had been a belated compromise decision to go there first as it was relatively sheltered and also one of the few places where we had been able to find numbers of birds during our reccies.  Our decision was rewarded by the sight of lots of birds as we drove into the carpark.  In the end we spent longer than planned picking up 43 species seen or heard (not always by the whole group) by the end of morning tea there.  Highlights included a flock of around 50 Red-browed Finches feeding on the ground with Red-rumped Parrots and Eastern Rosellas in amongst them, a Peregrine Falcon flying high overhead, and later 2 Brown Falcon circling high over the river bank.  The Crescent Honeyeater which had been reported there and was one of our target species was only briefly seen by Jenny and Michael.  Some of us thought briefly that there was one in the flowering grevillea in front of the morning tea benches, but it turned out to be a New Holland Honeyeater that for a short time sat up well in a bare bush.

Newly arrived (or just arriving) spring migrants were represented by Yellow-faced Honeyeaters feeding in the trees and bushes, lots of Grey Fantails flitting about and a couple of flocks of Dusky Woodswallows moving over/through and were not seen to land.  Breeding was represented by a couple of Grey Currawongs feeding young in a nest high in a river oak; one of the pair was later found gathering food and was very tame allowing a very close approach and many photographs.  A surprise bird was a single female Flame Robin resting on a stump, a Scarlet Robin was also heard but only managed to be photographed by John Bundock, and was not able to be found again despite the effort of the “Red-capped Robbins” trying to flush it.

When going through the Cotter Reserve, a couple of Emus and a pair of Masked Lapwings with 4 small runners (chicks) could be seen near the road through the bus windows.  At Tidbinbilla our first stop was about a kilometre past the Visitors Centre to view many Flame Robins in the open grassed area.  We counted around 30 of them, with slightly more highly coloured males than females, on the ground or doing perch-pounces from Aaron’s rods, etc, and moving around with some of them approaching very close.  When we drove on further to the Flints parking and picnic area, where Jenny and I had similarly seen close to 40 of them on our reccie 2 days earlier, there were only a few of them well away from the parking area.  On our next check they were much closer and, going past there on our way home, there were many more in the open area across the road.  There were certainly lots of them at Tidbinbilla; presumably their movement further into the mountains was being delayed by the wintry conditions.  Appropriately when we stopped briefly at the Cotter Bend picnic area on our way home, there was another male perched on a low bush.

A walk around the open area at Flints did find several Scarlet Robins, but again they proved to be quite elusive.  Another highlight there was a male Satin Bowerbird carrying a very large (for its size) blue object which he deposited in the shrubby area under an argyle apple tree.  Despite the presence of a couple of female/immature birds there we could not find any trace of the bower we suspected.  We then moved on to the Black Flats parking area hoping to find the Crested Shrike-tits feeding in amongst the Eucalyptus viminalis (ribbon gums), where Jenny and I had seen four on our first reccie 12 days beforehand.  Despite listening and searching we were not able to find them, as for our final reccie 2 days before.  We did get good views of White-naped Honeyeaters (mainly heard moving through at Casuarina Sands) and our only Eastern Yellow Robin for the day as we walked to the Black Flats Dam.  Here we were able to view 2 platypus regularly coming to the surface, at one point within a couple of metres of each other.  Unfortunately a third was dead in the water next to the bank, which we reported at the Visitors Centre on our way home.

Our departure from our lunch spot at the main picnic area was delayed as we searched for a Tawny Frogmouth that we could hear calling intermittently, but this eventually turned out to be from a bird songs recording emanating from the children’s playground.  We therefore made the decision not to go to our last planned stop but to return to the parking area at the eucalypt forest for a final effort to find the shrike-tits in amongst the ribbon gums there.  However, the lure of the Koalas in the enclosure, including two very cute young ones, proved too strong, aided by several of the re-introduced Long-nosed Potoroos running around underneath them.  Also admired in there were a number of rather tame Swamp Wallabies.

The agreed total for the day was 62 species, which includes those seen along the Tidbinbilla Road and the three Wedge-tailed Eagles seen at Bibaringa on the way back.  A surprise was so few spring migrants seen, only four species, and for 3 of those at least some birds had overwintered.  Also there was very little breeding observed.  Despite the cold (never above 8oC, I estimate) and occasionally strong winds and light drizzle, participants had a very enjoyable day.  My very sincere thanks again to Jenny Bounds for her considerable help in planning and leading on the day, and for driving the second bus.

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