Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Painted Honeyeater

The following image is a Painted Honeyeater photographed at Stony Creek NR (the ACT version, near Urriara Crossing) in early December.  It was hunting insects on the ground.

I have commented in my Gazette column about the excitement of finding Painted Honeyeaters in Hoskinstown.  Details from the COG database show that the birds were last present in the ACT in large numbers in 2003 with the last report being in 2003.

Taking a map from Birdata shows the normal range of the species to be more inland.
Zooming the list area to the ACT shows the distribution of more recent sightings.
I added the two red marks to show the current sightings at Urriara and Hoskinstown.

Adding to the importance of the Hoskinstown observations is the birds feeding young.  While some of the Urriara birds were nesting it appears that nest was abandoned for some reason and the chicks (if hatched) didn't fledge

Monday, December 30, 2013

Birds off Pollock Rd

I have blogged elsewhere about a couple of trips to a private property off Pollock Rd where we found excellent birds in a small section of mixed Eucalyptus pauciflora (Snow Gum) and E. manifera (Brittle Gum) woodland.  I revisited the area with my friend Garry this morning. While we went to look for Superb Parrots in an adjacent Acacia shelter belt but found none, and had fleeting glimpses of two birds we couldn't identify, we had a top time.

The good times started before we got there with excellent views of an Australian Reed Warbler in the reeds around a dam.

As we approached Pollock Rd we noticed 4 White-browed Woodswallows perched on a roadside fence.  There were many more of these beautiful birds in the target block.  This one was clearly nesting, and I suspect brooding chicks.  We saw other birds of this species carrying food.
The image below is of the same nest from a different angle.   To my fevered imagination the bird reminds me of the archetypal bad-tempered old lady peering out through lace curtains
On the subject of this species we also noticed some of them high in the sky harassing a passing couple of immature Wedge-tailed Eagles.  (I use the descriptor 'couple' as a substitute for 2: I don't know enough about the particular birds to say if they were a 'pair'; siblings or just good friends.)

We heard a number of White-winged Trillers calling and as well as seeing a pair feeding on the ground I managed to snap a very vocal dependent young  (DY) bird and its mother.  Another DY was very close.
A full list of birds seen in this site follows.

Australian Wood Duck White-winged Triller DY
Wedge-tailed Eagle Rufous Whistler
Crimson Rosella Grey Shrike-thrush
Eastern Rosella White-browed Woodswallow ON
Red-rumped Parrot Dusky Woodswallow
Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo Australian Magpie DY
White-throated Treecreeper Grey Fantail
Superb Fairy-wren Willie Wagtail
Yellow-rumped Thornbill Tree Martin IH
Buff-rumped Thornbill Common Starling IH
Striated Pardalote Diamond Firetail
Yellow-faced Honeyeater European Goldfinch
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

December 2013

Well, I did it again.  I mentioned Painted Honeyeaters in last month's post and they turned up in Hoskinstown with dependent young birds.  A major, major addition to our list.  I have put a few details about this species in a special post.

The other very unusual (for this area) bird seen in the month was an Australian Pelican seen swimming in a dam.  This is only the second sighting in 7 years.  A remnant of Eucalyptus pauciflora and E. mannifera has continued to produce very interesting birds with White-winged Triller and White-browed Woodswallow both breeding there as covered in another additional post.

Overall 114 species were recorded in this month,  This is 8 species more than November 2013 but 2 less than December 2012.  A more general comparison is shown in the following chart.

We are also recording large numbers of breeding species.  27 species, including the Painted Honeyeaters and Eastern Yellow Robins, have been recorded undertaking some form of breeding activity with 12 species observed at nests.  Most breeding records are dependent young: this is not surprising since the young birds are very noisy in contrast to the secrecy most species cultivate around their nests.


Thanks to observers in Pony Place, Wanna Wanna Rd, Captains Flat Rd, Radcliffe, Widgiewa Rd, Molonglo Valley,the Hoskinstown Plain and Hoskinstown.  Keep them coming people, by email to martinflab@gmail.com!

OVERALL LIST

In the list which follows migrants are shown in italics and breeding birds in red.



2 Birds of Prey:  Black-shouldered Kite;  Brown Goshawk; Spotted Harrier; Wedge-tailed Eagle; Little Eagle;  Nankeen Kestrel 

4 Kingfishers and other non-songbirds: Stubble Quail; Brown quail; Rock Dove; ;Common Bronzewing; Crested Pigeon; Tawny Frogmouth; Australian Owlet-nightjar;  Horsfield's Bronze‑Cuckoo;  Shining Bronze‑cuckoo; Pallid Cuckoo; Fan‑tailed Cuckoo; Brush Cuckoo; Southern Boobook; Laughing Kookaburra; Sacred Kingfisher;  Dollarbird

5 Honeyeaters: Eastern Spinebill; Yellow-faced HoneyeaterWhite-eared Honeyeater; White‑plumed Honeyeater; Noisy MinerRed Wattlebird; New Holland Honeyeater;  Brown‑headed Honeyeater; Noisy Friarbird; Painted Honeyeater

6 Flycatchers and similar speciesRufous WhistlerGrey Shrike-thrush;  Grey FantailWillieWagtailLeaden Flycatcher; Magpie-larkScarlet Robin;  Eastern Yellow Robin;Welcome SwallowFairy MartinTree Martin

7 Thornbills, Finches and similar species:  Superb Fairy-wrenWhite-browed Scrubwren; Speckled warbler; Weebill; Western Gerygone; White-throated GerygoneStriated Thornbill;  Yellow‑rumped Thornbill; Buff‑rumped Thornbill; Brown Thornbill; Spotted Pardalote; Striated PardaloteSilvereye;  Double‑barred FinchRed‑browed Finch; Diamond Firetail; House Sparrow; European Goldfinch

8 Other, smaller birds:  White-throated Treecreeper; Varied Sitella; Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike; White‑-winged Triller; Olive‑backed Oriole; Masked Woodswallow; White‑browed Woodswallow; Dusky Woodswallow; Skylark; Golden-headed Cisticola; Australian Reed-warblerRufous SonglarkBrown Songlark; Common Blackbird;  Common Starling; Mistletoebird; Australasian  Pipit;

9  Other, larger birds: Satin Bowerbird; Grey Butcherbird; Australian MagpiePied Currawong;Grey Currawong; Australian Raven; Little Raven; White-winged Chough

Over the next month I expect to compile an overall review of the Birds of Carwoola in 2013.  When I do this depends on other activities but watch this space.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A note on Eastern Yellow Robins

In a recent post about the general topic of Robins - mainly the Australo-Papuan flavour of same - I commented that the Eastern Yellow Robins had taken up residence in some dense vegetation in our garden.  This afternoon I spotted one perched in a very exposed position.
Slightly behind it was another bird with a long worm or - more likely looking at the food section of HANZAB - caterpillar in its beak which it showed no signs of eating.  I therefore suspect that it had a nest full of chicks somewhere close at hand.  Shortly afterwards I took a poor photo of both birds sitting in the base of the bushes.
I never found the nest but a couple of days later a bird was hopping around making begging noises and attracting the attention of several other species.  I strongly suspect this was a recently fledged young bird, possibly at the stage - not officially recognised by ornithologists or (left wing) sociologists -  of Indolent Young (ie capable of independent living but prefers to bludge off its parents).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November 2013

November 2013

Following my comment last month requesting any evidence of the two large Cuckoos I heard an Eastern Koel calling in the middle of the night.  Further sightings/hearings welcomed (as long as one isn’t trying to sleep in the vicinity of the bird).  Any sightings of Channel-billed Cuckoo would be exciting - their call is very distinctive being described by one local observer as like Miles Davis in his most experimental phase!

The other unusual species reported in November is a Glossy Ibis.  This is possibly a refugee from the drying out in the West of the State.  This is causing some uncommon Honeyeaters to turn up in the western parts of Canberra and along the Murrumbidgee.  The current 'suspects' in this group are Painted Honeyeater (image by Geoffrey Dabb from COG Photogallery)
and Black Honeyeater (image by Lindsay Hansch from COG Photogallery)
Keep an eye open on your Grevilleas and Callistemons (and of course any mistletoes flowering on your block).   Breaking News from December: Painted Honeyeaters have been observed in Hoskinstown by several folk including your humble reporter.

Breeding is in full swing.  By the time all records were collected for November we had a good haul of 19 species recorded with some form of breeding activity.  Our Tawny Frogmouths have fledged the remaining chick and are now touring the property, introducing it to their territory.  Sometimes they turn up in Fleur-de-lys pose.
Overall we are up to 105 species for November, which is an excellent outcome and for which praise is due to the many folk who have given me recordings.   While we are 2 species below October we are 1 above the average for the last 4 Novembers.

Thanks to observers in Pony Place, Wanna Wanna Rd, Captains Flat Rd, Radcliffe, Widgiewa Rd, Molonglo Valley,the Hoskinstown Plain and Hoskinstown.  Keep them coming people, by email to martinflab@gmail.com!

1  Waterbirds:  Musk Duck; Black Swan;  Australian ShelduckAustralian Wood Duck; Grey Teal; Pacific Black Duck; Hardhead;Australasian Grebe; Hoary-headed Grebe; Little Black Cormorant; Little Pied Cormorant; White‑necked Heron;  White‑faced HeronGlossy Ibis; Australian White Ibis; Straw-necked Ibis; Eurasian Coot; Black‑fronted DotterelMasked Lapwing; 


2 Birds of Prey:  Black-shouldered Kite; Brown Goshawk; Wedge-tailed EagleNankeen KestrelBrown Falcon; Peregrine Falcon.

4 Kingfishers and other non-songbirds: Stubble Quail; Brown quail; Common Bronzewing; Crested Pigeon; Tawny Frogmouth;  Common Koel; Channel-billed Cuckoo; Shining Bronze‑cuckoo; Pallid Cuckoo; Fan‑tailed Cuckoo; ;Laughing Kookaburra; Sacred Kingfisher; Dollarbird

5 Honeyeaters: Eastern Spinebill; Yellow-faced HoneyeaterWhite-eared Honeyeater; Noisy MinerRed Wattlebird; New Holland Honeyeater; Brown‑headed Honeyeater; Noisy Friarbird

6 Flycatchers and similar speciesRufous WhistlerGrey Shrike-thrush; Grey Fantail; WillieWagtailLeaden Flycatcher; Magpie-lark; Jacky Winter;Scarlet Robin; Flame Robin; Eastern Yellow Robin;Welcome Swallow; Fairy Martin; Tree Martin

7 Thornbills, Finches and similar species:  Superb Fairy-wrenWhite-browed Scrubwren; Weebill; Western Gerygone; White-throated Gerygone; Striated Thornbill; Yellow‑rumped Thornbill; Buff‑rumped Thornbill; Brown Thornbill; Spotted Pardalote; Striated Pardalote; Silvereye;  Double‑barred FinchRed‑browed Finch; Diamond Firetail; House Sparrow; European Goldfinch

8 Other, smaller birds:  White-throated Treecreeper; Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike; White‑-winged Triller; Olive‑backed Oriole; Dusky Woodswallow;Skylark; Golden-headed Cisticola; Rufous SonglarkBrown Songlark; Common Blackbird; Common Starling; Mistletoebird; Australasian  Pipit;

9  Other, larger birds: Satin Bowerbird; Grey Butcherbird; Australian MagpiePied CurrawongGrey Currawong; Australian Raven; Little Raven; White-winged Chough

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 2013

It was very pleasant to meet many of the folk who report observations during the Community Wildflower Walk.  Conversations there contributed several observations, including important breeding records, to this report.

The migrants have pretty much all returned .  This includes some less common species including Brown Songlark on the Hoskinstown Plain and Masked and White-browed Woodswallows in a number of sites.  Among the less common migrant species not yet reported are the 2 large cuckoos: Eastern Koel and Channel-billed Cuckoo.  If anyone sees (or more likely hears) either of  them please let me know.

No new species have been added to the list this month but there have been some unusual sightings;
  • a juvenile White-bellied Sea-Eagle from Hoskinstown - perhaps a link to the pair seen flying from that direction in July
  • a female Satin Flycatcher in the Molonglo Valley (2nd for the project) was almost certainly en route to the damp gullies of Tallanganda;
  • a Yellow-billed Spoonbill was seen on Foxlow Lagoon which is only the 4th sighting in close to 7 years. 
  • I have also had a report of an Eastern Barn Owl from Radcliffe, rather than the more common location on the Hoskinstown Plain.
Overall we are up to 106 species for October, which is an excellent outcome and for which praise is due to the many folk who have given me recordings.   We are 3 species above the average for the last 4 years and 10 greater than was achieved in September.  Here's the graph.
Breeding is also happening in a major way: 25 species have been reported breeding, which is the equal highest monthly score in the 7 years of this project.  Our Tawny Frogmouths are now brooding a single chick  which is in wing-stretching mode (its nest mate fell out of the nest and didn’t survive the experience).  A particularly good haul of breeding records was gathered during a visit to a snow gum/brittle gum woodland off Pollack Rd.  Less well received was Sericornis frontalis illegitimalis (the bastard scrubwren) which built an indoor nest in an observers skein of garlic!

This image of a Red Wattlebird is from Hillview Nursery (after the photo was taken a second bird appeared and fed young in the nest).

The blue material comes from a tarp which has stared to unravel due to UV exposure.

Thanks to observers in Pony Place, Wanna Wanna Rd, Captains Flat Rd, Radcliffe, Bowen St, Widgiewa Rd, Molonglo Valley,the Hoskinstown Plain and Hoskinstown.  Keep them coming people!


2 Birds of Prey:  Black-shouldered Kite; White-bellied Sea-eagle; Brown Goshawk; Spotted Harrier; Wedge-tailed Eagle; Little Eagle; Nankeen KestrelPeregrine Falcon.

4 Kingfishers and other non-songbirds:Stubble Quail; Brown quail; Common Bronzewing; Crested Pigeon; Tawny Frogmouth; Painted Button-quail; Common Koel; Channel-billed Cuckoo;Horsfield's Bronze‑Cuckoo; Shining Bronze‑cuckoo; Pallid Cuckoo; Fan‑tailed Cuckoo; Brush Cuckoo;  Eastern Barn Owl; Laughing Kookaburra; Sacred Kingfisher; Dollarbird

5 Honeyeaters: Eastern Spinebill; Yellow-faced HoneyeaterWhite-eared Honeyeater; Noisy MinerRed Wattlebird; New Holland Honeyeater; Brown‑headed Honeyeater; White-naped Honeyeater; Noisy Friarbird

6 Flycatchers and similar speciesGolden Whistler;Rufous WhistlerGrey Shrike-thrush; Grey FantailWillieWagtail; Leaden Flycatcher; Satin FlycatcherMagpie-lark; Scarlet Robin;  Flame Robin; Rose Robin,  Eastern Yellow Robin;Welcome SwallowFairy Martin; Tree Martin
p
7 Thornbills, Finches and similar species:  Superb Fairy-wrenWhite-browed Scrubwren; Weebill; White-throated GerygoneStriated Thornbill; Yellow‑rumped Thornbill; Buff‑rumped Thornbill; Brown Thornbill; Southern Whiteface; Spotted Pardalote; Striated Pardalote; Silvereye; Double‑barred Finch; Red‑browed Finch; Diamond Firetail; House Sparrow; European Goldfinch

8 Other, smaller birds:  White-throated Treecreeper; Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike; White‑-winged Triller; Olive‑backed Oriole; Masked Woodswallow; White‑browed Woodswallow; Dusky Woodswallow;Skylark; Golden-headed Cisticola; Rufous SonglarkBrown Songlark; Common Blackbird; Common StarlingMistletoebird; Australasian  Pipit;

9  Other, larger birds: Satin Bowerbird; Grey Butcherbird; Australian MagpiePied Currawong;Grey Currawong; Australian Raven; Little RavenWhite-winged Chough

Although they are an introduced species, and in this image is sitting on an evil Pinus radiata, I do find this male Common Blackbird singing his heart out as we start our dog walk in the morning is an uplifting experience.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A stunned silvereye

A few minutes ago we heard a thud of a bird hitting a window.  After a check nothing was seen splatted on the deck so we assumed the victim had not been badly impacted and subsequently flown away.

Then I went out to the deck to collect a cup of coffee and thought to sit and drink it there.  Fortunately I looked down first:
This is clearly a Silvereye, Zosterops lateralis.  From the pale colour of the flans I rate this as Z. l. familiaris the most widespread sub-species.  At some times of the year many of the Silvereyes seen in this area are the chestnut-flanked race Z. l. lateralis which breeds in Tasmania but migrates North for Winter.

Here is a close up of the head showing that the ring around the eye is in fact white, not silver.  It also shows nicely the detail of the feathers.
Later in the day I came across a flock of Silvereyes munching on insects around old Acacia seeds.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Frogmouth hatching

This morning (3 October) I noticed that the male Tawny Frogmouth was very active on the nest.  (Normally it is very still, almost to the point of being comatose!)  As they have returned to the original nest site in the yellow box (Eucalyptus meliodora - not a plastic milk crate) it is simple to keep an eye on what was going on from my computer.  The nest site is marked with a red X.
The images which follow show some of the changes in position of the bird over about 3 hours.  The images were taken from my chair, through a window, at about 35m range.

The first image was taken at 0800.
 0946
 0954
 1005: note the hunched posture.  It was pecking/pulling at something in the nest.
 1025
 1026: the bird spent quite a bit of time looking upwards in this fashion.  As far as I could determine there were no predators in the tree.
10:44  I think this next image comes just after the bird went through a bout of pecking, during which I saw something white in the nest which appeared to raise what looked like a new-born chicks wing!  Woo-hoo!  During that process the adult bird appeared to pick something up in its beak and swallow it: egg membrane perhaps?
10:46 I became very excited with this image, but unfortunately on getting my telescope onto the case, the white blob resolved to a downy feather.
From my view the greatest excitement of this was that I have in the past regarded the restlessness of the parent as indicating hatching going on down there.  This is the first time that I have caught sight of the chick on that day.

I have been able to record the incubation period for the last 4 years: it has been 29, 28, 28 and now 27 days.  Another observer - far more skilled than myself has suggested that the warm spell in September may have sped the process up.   The decibels after dark suggest it has also encouraged productivity in the frog department, so I expect the chicks to develop quickly.

Moving forward to 19 October I finally got a nice view of Dad and chick.