Thursday, December 30, 2010


The end of the day dunked in pale amber light, utter cloudlessness, a stillness only pyramids know, rising/saving coolth, savignon blanc and Melody Gardot's liquid vocals, a Common Koel, high in the pine, asking all gods for another day of life, Eastern Spinebills piping nectar-songs faintly in the shrubbery, the ubiquitous nearby lawn mower's murmur and, a while back, forty minutes with pretty much my favorite Aussie bird, the White-throated Needletail (formerly Spine-tailed Swift), when a loose flock of them arced and fluttered in our great pool of Southern Highland sky like diving-petrels or angels thrilled to be home.

LJ, 7:50pm, December 30 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Two adults and a juvenile Grey Butcherbird were flitting urgently through foliage along Riverview Road late yesterday. One of the adults had snatched a skink from the ground and the juvenile was in hot pursuit, uttering a series of urgent piping notes not dissimilar to a young Noisy Miner's 'I'm bloody starving - give me something right now' racket.

Anyhow, the parent with the skink flew from tree to tree to escape the juvenile, bashing the skink to death on branches various as it went. Two minutes after it had snared its prey, the adult handed it to the youngster, which devoured the creature effortlessly.

I'm wary of anthropomorphism, but it seemed as if the adult Butcherbird deeply cared about the welfare of its offspring, handing the skink over only when it believed the reptile was dead. Perhaps there was a concern the juvenile would either not cope with a living skink or perhaps choke on its food. Regardless, life goes on in a species because of that attention, that compassion.

I've never seen such fastidious food preparation before in the bird world - Matt Moran and Heston Blumenthal would've been proud.

LJ, December 2010.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


The pair of Dollarbirds haunting the corner of Penrose and Quarry Roads now have chicks. Close to 9pm last Wednesday evening, I watched one bird, presumably the male, fly to his nest hollow. On entering the hollow, there was a rapturous clamor from chicks. I'm guessing the female is with her young inside the tree, as I've only seen one bird perched on power lines and hawking above paddocks over the last few days.

LJ, December 19 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Mid-morning today, I saw my first Wedge-tailed Eagle for Bundanoon, beyond Mount Carnarvon, where our world and our hearts surrender to complete wilderness. The bird was flying into mad winds: its huge tail  became a rudder of sorts. Stunning stuff.

LJ, December 11 2010.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Last Saturday afternoon, I killed the largest Huntsman Spider I've ever seen. It was the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin of Huntsmans. A Kodiak Bear of Huntsmans. Think undiscovered Central American jungles, B-grade horror, Spiderman shaking uncontrollably and ordering another whiskey, Little Miss Muffet in a psychiatric hospital for years...

It was too hard to get the thing out the back door with the careers section from the Sydney Morning Herald, so I had to resort to rolling up much of the paper and whacking the beast. I never feel great about killing spiders, but I was worried about this one snarling and snapping at a family member.


There are heaps of spiders lurking about at the moment - House Spiders between fence palings, Wolf Spiders prowling the concrete, Jumping Spiders waiting in ambush on rose petals, Daddy Longlegs hangin' with dozens of babies, White-tailed Spiders trying to shake off their horrid reputations and a member of genus Dolophones, which is incredibly well camouflaged against the mottled green-grey-white trunks of our backyard blossoms and retreats with the speed of an edgy Sailfish when scared (the effect of this is odd; a section of the tree looks as if it's shifting and one wonders whether one is hallucinating).


(The title quote above is from The Cure's early 90s hit Lullaby).

LJ, December 9 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010


Keen local birders, John and Lynette Desmond, came upon an expansive swamp near the sewage treatment plant and ovals, along Quarry Rd. in Bundanoon, some time ago... It was one of four Bundanoon locations visited on Saturday's Southern Highboca/Southern Highlands Birdwatchers bird count excursion, which took amateur ornithologists everywhere in the Highlands from Bargo River to Lake Alexander at Mittagong. The focus of this outing, which lasted from 4pm Sat to 4pm Sun, was to count as many Highland species as possible in twenty-four hours. The group and I were able to tally ninety-three species, which is a decent result.

The seemingly vast, otherworldly swamp (I imagined I was in the Aussie tropics for a while there, nervy/adrenalised by Saltwater Crocs) has much potential for sought after birds such as Brown and Little Bittern, as well as various ducks and crakes, frogs and more frogs, and perhaps, Tiger Snakes (I've never come across one in the wild - would love to). Scarlet Robin and White-naped Honeyeater have been sighted there at the right times of year.

A pair of Brown-headed Honeyeaters were foraging in the midstorey of the swamp's tangled outskirts when the Highboca crew and I were there. BHHs aren't birds I've studied much in my decades of birding. I hope to find them again and let them sing me their secrets.

LJ, December 6 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I'll be leading a spotlighting bash (think spotlighting without rifles and pig dogs and Bundy Rum and Southern Cross iconography) for active local birding mob Southern HighBoca, in Morton NP, this coming Saturday evening.

If the world's not crying, as it has been for days, the group and I should find a few night birds, microbats, frogs, possums etc. If you're interested in getting involved with Southern HighBoca, email me. Stay tuned for a report.

On another note, those Fairy Bower photos ARE coming soon.

LJ, December 2 2010 


My thanks to Pam Davies for promoting this site in the latest edition of Jordan's Crossing Gazette.

LJ, December 2 2010