Sunday nature walk – Urambi Hills Birdspotting – NPA/COG

Sun 16 October 2022 08:00am

Cynthia Burton (NPA/ACT) and Michael Robbins (COG)

Joint NPA ACT/COG bird spotting walk

Meet at 8am at the Meredith Circuit entrance to Urambi Hills Nature Reserve (if unsure of location, copy this into Google: -35.396822, 149.047919). This walk will explore the lower western slopes of Urambi Hills, an area on the very western edge of suburban Canberra, with uninterrupted views towards the Murrumbidgee River and the ranges beyond.  Being a spring walk, we will have the opportunity to look for returning migratory birds.  We will visit a few survey sites as well as other ‘birdy’ spots and note a few interesting plants in UHNR.

Registration essential, with Cynthia ( Please register at least 48 hours ahead of the outing, with your name and phone number, and name and number of an emergency contact. Maximum 20 attendees (so register early!).

Please bring binoculars, a hat, water, sunscreen, morning tea and wear sturdy shoes  (NOTE: depending on weather during September/October much of the Reserve may still be quite wet)

NPA ACT Grading: 1 A/B

Leaders: Cynthia Burton (NPA/ACT) and Michael Robbins (COG)

Michael has been helping the Urambi Hills Park Care group by conducting bird surveys each three months at 8 sites in UHNR since 2017.

Post event report

Fifteen, mostly strangers, gathered for this joint NPA/COG outing on a cloudy morning to enjoy the soggy hills of Urambi, under the guidance of NPA’s Cynthia Burton and COG’s Michael Robbins.


The brief introduction by Michael stressed the importance of call recognition because birds are more often heard than seen.  He encouraged all to listen attentively and in no time we had our bird call ‘antennae’ up and ventured sharing an identification with the group.  It was a good suggestion because this outing often demanded eyes down to navigate the wet and uneven terrain.


Before even going through the gate into the reserve we had immediately identified one green Satin Bowerbird and a small flock of Yellow-faced Honeyeater. Michael explained the migration habits of the latter.  We saw and heard many more, some making the contact call typical of flying birds, but many the call of birds which were enjoying the several species of eucalypts in flower.


We visited several of the sites Michael surveys four times a year and in doing so covered a good portion of the reserve.  Several birds were checking out or inhabiting hollows, including a pair of Galah. Several people thought maybe an older common name – Rose-breasted Cockatoo – is more apt. Viewing of the several Australian Raven and Little Raven was accompanied by advice as to discerning their differences.


The dams were not very productive, there being only a pair of Australian Wood Duck, three Dusky Moorhen, and the clear call of Australian Reed-Warbler. The one White-faced Heron seen was taking advantage of the edibles available in the very soggy flat terrain of the paddock next to the largest dam.


Our keen long lens photographers obtained some great images: a pair of Striated Pardalote (many others were heard), Eastern Rosella, Nankeen Kestrel, a female Leaden Flycatcher displaying orange-buff throat and breast.  Our camera-ready crew proved particularly helpful in identifying a Little Eagle in the vicinity of Tuggeranong Creek, and took a nice photo of a 2nd year immature male Rufous Whistler.


Near the end of the outing a Brown Goshawk circling above made it three raptors for the morning. Beside Eastern Rosella, we also saw several Crimson Rosella, a couple of Red-rumped Parrot, a flock of Little Corella and several Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Michael drilled us on the calls of Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Grey Butcherbird, Magpie-lark, Laughing Kookaburra, Silvereye, Red Wattlebird and Noisy Friarbird, in the hope we’ll remember some.


Unfortunately, while he heard and/or saw Buff-rumped, Yellow-rumped and Brown Thornbill, they were few in number or, like the White-throated  Treecreeper, weren’t calling and he wasn’t able to drill us on these. He did offer ID clues to differentiate the Tree Martin from other martins and swallows which we didn’t see.


For many the walk proved a good introduction to the bird life to be found in Canberra’s nature reserves. Michael encouraged all to check out the COG website for information and further guidance in preparation to trek out once or many times more to see or hear our wonderful Capital Region avifauna.


Lou Alaimo

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