Monday, June 5, 2017

Which Grey bird is that?

Paul Conn posted an image of a bird new to his house on the Carwoola Community Facebook page.
My very first thought was that this was a Grey Butcherbird, but the colour pattern was definitely not right for that.  My second thought was that it was a Grey Shrike-thrush - although it looked rather large in comparison to the ducks - and I put this as a response to Paul's post.

Then two other contributors suggested Grey Currawong was more likely.  For some reason I hadn't thought of that species but on looking again at the image it seemed a good suggestion which I endorsed.  A further member of the group then put in another vote for Grey Shrike-thrush based on colouring and general shape.

This led me to ask Paul for an original of the photo which he provided by email.  After looking at this I sent him images of Grey Currawong ...
 ... and Grey Shrike-thrush.
I asked Paul which he thought closer to the bird he'd seen noting:
  1. The colouration looks to me more like the Shrike-thrush (which I why I went there initially) but shadows etc can be very tricky.  The shape of the bill looks more like Grey Currawong than GST.
  2. The matter of size is a tad difficult as they are different distances away (and how to measure the length of a bird is tricky) but consider this:
  • Pacific Black Duck  is roughly 50cm long
  • Grey Currawong roughly 45cm long
  • Grey Shrike-thrush roughly 25cm long.
I couldn't do the geometry to prove it but allowing for the ducks to be about 1m further from the camera I'd rate the bird in question to be close to the same size, or at least significantly more than half the size of the ducks.  So that is a vote for the Currawong.

GST are quite common around the area (nest in people's sheds etc) but Grey Currawongs have been around our place regularly in the past few weeks.   

Paul responded " ... it really is about as big as the full grown ducks and is strong enough to scare off the magpies and rosellas when it is after seed on the lawn.  This matches with the size information you have given me."

So my conclusion is that it is definitely a Grey Currawong.

Friday, June 2, 2017

May 2017

The most exciting sighting this month was watching 2 Australian Hobbies hunting bats over a dam on Wanna Wanna Rd.  In the course of 30 minutes the two falcons killed 6 bats.  A couple of days later a single Hobby was observed making 8 attacks but failing each time!

Later in the month a dead Southern Boobook was also found in that area (but unlikely to have been Hobby-prey).  Speckled Warblers are seen moderately often, but I was surprised to see 3 at once feeding as part of a flock.  Another bird that is quite uncommon in our area (but quite common in Lake Burley Griffin) is the Australasian Darter.  2 immature birds were seen on Foxlow Lagoon (from the road).

In total we recorded 84 species over the month.  This the expected seasonal drop from April, but is slightly above the average recorded for May.
Migrants have largely migrated although a sighting of an immature Olive-backed Oriole was a large surprise. Breeding has stopped, as expected for the time of year in this area.

As always, thanks to the observers who have provided reports to me for the month.  These have covered sites in Whiskers Creek Rd, Widgiewa Rd, Knox Close, Captains Flat Rd,   Wanna Wanna Rd, and Hoskinstown Village and  Plain. Please pass on interesting sightings to me by email to  

1  Waterbirds (pt 1):  (pt 2)(Pt 3); (Pt 4): Black Swan; Australian Wood Duck; Australian Shoveler; Grey Teal; Pacific Black Duck; Hardhead; Australasian Grebe; Darter; Little Pied Cormorant;White‑faced Heron; Australian White Ibis; Straw-necked Ibis; Eurasian  Coot; Black‑fronted Dotterel; Masked Lapwing

2 Birds of Prey:  Brown Goshawk; Collared Sparrowhawk;Wedge-tailed Eagle;  Nankeen Kestrel; Brown Falcon; Australian Hobby; 

3 Parrots and Relatives: Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo; Gang‑gang Cockatoo; Galah; Sulphur‑crested Cockatoo; Australian King‑parrot; Crimson Rosella; Eastern Rosella; Red-rumped Parrot

4 Kingfishers and other non-songbirds (Pt 1) (Pt 2) (Pt 3): Stubble Quail; Rock Dove, Common Bronzewing; Crested Pigeon;Tawny Frogmouth; Southern Boobook;  Laughing Kookaburra; Superb lyrebird

5 Honeyeaters: Eastern Spinebill; Yellow-faced Honeyeater; White-eared Honeyeater; Noisy Miner; Red Wattlebird;  Brown‑headed Honeyeater; 

6 Flycatchers and similar speciesGolden Whistler;Grey Shrike-thrush; Grey Fantail; Willie Wagtail; Magpie-lark; Scarlet Robin;, Flame Robin; Eastern Yellow Robin; Welcome Swallow; 

7 Thornbills, Finches and similar species (Pt 1) (Pt 2):  Superb Fairy-wren; White-browed Scrubwren; Speckled warbler; Weebill; Striated Thornbill; Yellow‑rumped Thornbill; Buff‑rumped Thornbill; Brown Thornbill; 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; Olive‑backed Oriole; ; Dusky Woodswallow; Common Blackbird; Common Starling; Mistletoebird; Australasian  Pipit;

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