Narrabundah Hill honeyeater migration

Sat 04 April 2015 08:00am

Jack Holland

Those members who will be staying at home this Easter and/or will have visiting birder friends are welcome to join this outing to the Narrabundah Hill reserve.  This is a repeat of the March 2014 walk but about 2 weeks later, which should be in the peak of the honeyeater migration season, with the northern fence line one of the few currently known local migration routes.  We will walk along this boundary, as well as most of the western border and either return by the same or a different path, looking for other autumn birds such as mixed feeding flocks or late departing summer migrants such as gerygones.


Meet Jack Holland (62887840 or at 8 am at the parking area and stile at the NE end of the reserve, at the corner of Warragamba Avenue and Eucumbene Drive, Duffy.  Please note that the entry to this parking area is a little tricky, and is in fact about 25 metres past (on the Mount Stromlo side) the T-junction with Warragamba Avenue, and for those driving along Eucumbene Drive from Duffy involves a quite tricky 180 degrees turn, so please take care. 

There is no need to book but an indication of your intentions would be appreciated to get a rough idea of numbers.

Post event report

Seventeen members and guests joined Jean Casburn and me on this outing, an indication that having a local one during the Easter holiday break is viable. Others may have joined except for the forecast and the weather which was cool, very cloudy but still and with luckily the rain holding off. We walked for about 2.5 km along the northern boundary of the reserve and most of the western border, and returned by the same route.
Unfortunately the conditions were not conducive for significant honeyeater migration (a cold clear night followed by a clear still day is best) and except for a flock of about 15 in the distance which Jean Casburn saw early on (and I caught the rear end of), none were seen migrating on the day. We did, however, find at least three significant examples of that other autumn phenomenon, mixed feeding flocks (MFF), with one in exactly the same spot as last year’s very big one. In these the Grey Fantail was by far the most conspicuous species (around 50 seen on the day with up to 15 together, many seeming to be of the much more clearly marked Tasmanian race), though were probably outnumbered by Silvereyes. Species also with numbers in these MFFs included Weebills and Red-browed Finches.
Other species probably on migration were Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes doing so in smallish numbers, and possibly the over 50 Welcome Swallows moving through hawking high overhead, with several Rufous Whistlers and a quiet White-throated Gerygone seen by only a few of the group still not having departed. Winter altitudinal migrants included a single White-eared Honeyeater as well as a number of Scarlet Robins scattered throughout the walk. The latter proved elusive to locate, except when we had returned to the cars where a pair with a very coloured female allowed very close views on a nearby fence.
At the start of the walk there was surprising number of Satin Bowerbirds (at least eight) seen. Other interesting birds included a White-necked Heron flying slowly past and a single Diamond Firetail which I heard but only Dave had conclusive views, possibly because we were distracted by the Tawny Frogmouth that Ken found sitting very upright in the tree into which the former had flown. We stopped here to have morning tea hoping it would re-appear; it didn’t but up to 20 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos (heard previously or seen in the distance) flying through slowly and alighting in the trees around us more than made up for it.
Despite the less than ideal weather participants voted it a successful outing with a total of 42 species recorded, with 24 in the first 30 minutes. Participants agreed it was worth repeating next Easter which will fall a week earlier and hopefully will be on a clear calm day so we will be able to experience the honeyeater migration.
Jack Holland

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