Wanniassa Hills NR & Fadden Ponds

Sun 25 June 2017 08:00am

Ryu Callaway

Arrive by 8am at Fadden Hills Pond located on the corner of Bugden Ave and Nicklin Cres. There are no proper parking arrangements in the area – note that the gravel parking near the tennis courts is for tennis club members only. I suggest you park along Stopford Cres or Nicklin Cres out of the way, and carpool if possible. We will spend some time loitering around the pond. A Spotless Crake was recorded last year although it is unlikely now due to work completed early this year to remove excess silt. The tree-lined creek occasionally presents some nice birds like Rose Robin, and there is a new bird mural to admire on the pump station.


We will then walk through Wanniassa Hills NR, doing a loop of the SW section before checking out a small dam. Mixed feeding flocks abound here over winter, and we can expect to get some very close-up views of Golden Whistler, White-eared Honeyeater, Scarlet Robin, pardalotes and a range of thornbills. Be prepared for some mildly steep and rocky sections; the exact route will depend on the movement of these flocks. We will return via the southernmost peak (the smallest but also with the best views). This may be a good opportunity for a quick snack while taking in the breathtaking views of Tuggeranong and the Brindabellas, with the possibility of a raptor or two. The whole morning should take about 3 hours, give or take an hour.


Post event report

Fourteen COG members assembled at the ridiculously early hour of 8am on the coldest morning of the year to date (-5.5℃), where, surprisingly, the skies were clear and there was no fog. The immature Purple Swamphens at Fadden Hills Pond were still being babied by their parents and being fed, and 3 Australian Wood Duck ducklings had survived the cold. We admired the bird mural on the pump station, which depicted more birds than the real birds we saw elsewhere in the uncharacteristically quiet gully, perhaps due to it still being shaded by the hills to the east. Even so, we recorded 19 species around the pond.


We then walked up Wanniassa Hills, where the sun was shining. The first mixed feeding flock consisted of a healthy mix of species including White-plumed Honeyeater, Golden Whistler, Scarlet Robin, Brown and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Striated Pardalotes, and many Spotted Pardalotes and Weebills. Then came the highlight of the morning, an Australian Hobby. It streaked over us before landing in a nearby eucalypt, where some Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and a Galah put on a show trying to scare it away while the Hobby held its ground. The next gully, below the dam that was still covered with a thin sheet of ice, yielded further Scarlet Robins as well as a Willie Wagtail, Superb Fairy-wrens, 2 Grey Shrike-thrush, and pleasantly, 2 Speckled Warblers. Heading up to the smaller trig, 3 pairs of Red-rumped Parrots poised for photos on their nesting tree in spectacular light, and an amusing mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos all lay down in exactly the same orientation and posture. After cherishing the beautiful fog-free views of the Tuggeranong Valley, the morning was wrapped up nicely with an easy downhill stroll, where some late morning Australian White Ibis were observed on their return roost flight in the distance, making 31 species for the reserve. We collectively recorded a total of 39 species for the morning. Thanks to Lia for managing the species list.

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