Sun 15 January 2017 08:30am

Bruce Lindenmayer

The meeting point for COG’s annual outing will again be next to Uriarra Homestead big dam, close to the T-intersection of Uriarra and Brindabella Roads at 8.30 am. We will spend some time looking at birds on and around the dam, then come back to Uriarra Crossing and then Uriarra East for lunch. We are likely to see quite a few unusual birds and migrants including Nankeen Night-Heron, woodswallows, Dollarbird and Rainbow Bee-eater. There are good picnic and toilet facilities at both Uriarra Crossing venues. Please bring lunch and water.


Getting there is a bit complicated, following rapid urban development in Molonglo. OLD STREET DIRECTORIES ARE LIKELY TO BE UNHELPFUL! Starting at the intersection of Cotter Road and Streeton Drive, travelling out of Canberra, Cotter Road becomes John Gorton Drive. Follow John Gorton Drive. YOU NOW HAVE TWO POSSIBLE ROUTES.


ROUTE 1. Travelling along John Gorton Drive you will (again) come to an intersection with Cotter Road. Turn left and follow this for about 15km past Mt Stromlo and the Cotter Reserve to the T-intersection with Uriarra Road. Turn right and the big dam is on your right.


ROUTE 2. In John Gorton Drive go on until you come to Opperman Avenue. Turn left and follow on straight to the roundabout near Stromlo Forest Park, where you turn right to Uriarra Road. Follow Uriarra Road over the Uriarra Crossing, turn left up the hill until you come to the big dam on your right. It is slightly shorter than ROUTE 1. If coming from Belconnen

Post event report

Despite heatwave conditions on the days before and after, 15 January turned out a pleasant, warm, still and cloudless day, attracting 25 COG participants.


Starting at the Uriarra Homestead Dam, It was obvious from the outset that waterbird numbers were down on previous years, but with leaseholder permission we were able to access the property itself, providing additional angles to see waterbirds, but also to find some bush birds in the woodland away from the road. Highlights at this spot were Sacred Kingfisher, a small Galah flock with dependent young, Brown Goshawk and Nankeen Kestrel. Except for 25 Australian Wood Duck, other duck species were in small numbers, although (perhaps surprisingly, given scant recording in the ACT recently) 8 Eurasian Coot were observed. Total species count was 41, down a little on the 2016 record number of 44.


The second stop had us walking along the western bank of the Murrumbidgee both up and downstream from Uriarra Crossing to record 34 species.. Notable observations included Dollarbird, Wedge-tailed EagleLeaden FlycatcherMistletoebird, four species of thornbill, and Pied CurrawongWillie Wagtail and  Magpie-lark all with dependent young. A Noisy Friarbird was seen dismantling a nest, assumed to be that recently vacated by wagtails.


We found a shady picnic lunch spot at Uriarra East after recording 29 species, most notably a juvenile Pied Butcherbird (presumably the one photographed nearby, and posted by Shorty on the COG email Discussion List), Striated Pardalote dependent young and, for the fourth year running, breeding Collared Sparrowhawk; on this occasion a bird on a nest very high in a casuarina.


The species total for the outing was a creditable 62, although bird numbers were indeed down, perhaps reflecting hot weather in the preceding weeks. Notable absences were Nankeen Night-heron from the large dam and Dusky Woodswallow from under the casuarinas.

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