Monday, December 24, 2012


Yesterday morning, before the thunderheads protruding from battleship-grey clouds like an artist's abstract take on The Olgas, heaven's horizontal electrics and hours of much needed rainfall, whilst the day was still and baking and mobs of Plague Soldier Beetles dragged their lightbulb abdomens through humid air, a pair of Mistletoebirds alighted in a neighbour's tree, about thirteen feet above the ground (low, considering this species is mainly observed flitting through the forest canopy). I hear them at home most days. The male, positioned a foot below the female, was shaking his body, moving about and rapidly fanning his wings. I'd not seen this before. I'm guessing it was a breeding display. When the female departed, the male left in hot pursuit. LJ, Xmas Eve 2012. PS - Merry Xmas to my followers/readers; thanks for supporting my blog.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Hissing, body inflating, head-rearing, tongue-flicking... they were all part of an adult Blue-tongued Lizard's threat display yesterday. A spectacle that's always terrific to watch. You have to admire the Lizard's theatricality. I cornered the striped beastie and ushered it into a plastic garbage bin, so I could move it out of the way of my two dogs, one of whom was hyperactive and barking madly when in the reptile's presence. The first adult Blue-tongued Lizard I've had on my property. LJ, December 19 2012.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

144, 145

Last Saturday morning, a Darter and a Nankeen Kestrel crossed my path near Shangri La Rd bringing the old bird list up to 145 species. I'm surprised it's taken me so long to find both. The NK blew in on gusts from Penrose just before baking conditions set in. The Darter was drying its wings on the dam there. I've seen the odd NK between Bundanoon and Exeter, near the railway line, so the anticipation for this species has been high. Darters seem irregular in the Southern Highlands. LJ, December 6 2012.


Watching a male Wonga Pigeon's courtship ritual has been this week's avian highlight thus far (and will probably remain so, unless, say, a disoriented Oriental Honey-Buzzard turns up at Jordan's Crosing Reserve and takes after startled Noisy Miners!). The Wonga was in a neighbour's yard. I started mimicking its ongoing call. The bird responded by fanning/spreading its tail and lifting and fanning its wings. It then threw its head back over each of its shoulders repeatedly. A female turned up and the pair copulated. The female then jumped on the male's back, which surprised me. Mutual neck rubbing ended the three or four minutes of love. Something I've never witnessed before. LJ, December 6 2012.

Monday, November 26, 2012


You little ripper. I heard 3 Grey Currawongs call from the other side of Grand Canyon between 7:30 and 8pm tonight. I was standing at Gambells Lookout when they let out their distinct cries. That's bird 143 for town. I wish I'd seen them. Other highlights: Sooty Owl (one individual calling from the depths of the Canyon; always a pleasure; one of Australia's great birds), Crescent Honeyeaters, Peregrine Falcon, Black-faced Monarch, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, Pilotbird and Superb Lyrebird. LJ, November 26 2012.



Man, it was hot yesterday. It hovered around 30 for a few hours. And with the heat came droves of insects and their insane light obsession. Bugs various littered the front porch wall last night. Where's an owlet-nightjar when you need one? LJ, November 26 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012


Some poor bugger down the road got bitten by a Common Wombat the other day. He's now in hospital. I hope he heals up asap. I guess there's a moral here. LJ, November 2 2012.


Thursday, November 1, 2012


A few nights back, not long after sundown, whilst sitting under my Manchurian Pear with a chilled glass of NZ sauvignon blanc, I heard what sounded like the sky being momentarily ripped. Years back, in the Devil's Coach House at Jenolan Caves (one of the most spellbinding places in New South Wales; dream stuff straight out of Gothic lit and Romanticism) I heard exactly the same noise, several times on dusk, whilst awaiting a Sooty Owl's arrival from its Nettle Cave roost. A couple of years ago, the same noise visited me once again, out near Fitzroy Falls. Its a peculiar sound, a sound I've never been able to categorise. Until now. Directly after the noise the other night, a microbat about the size of a Tree Martin, showed itself against the pale western sky and twisted away from me! So, the furiously flapping wings of a microbat when manoeuvring. As to the species, well that's another question. Months ago, I put up a post announcing that I had a microbat living in the pergola. Well that bat didn't hang around for long after that post. An enormous huntsman appeared one night close to the bat's roost entrance. I wonder whether the huntsman did the bat in. LJ, November 1 2012.

Sunday, October 21, 2012




Superb birding from 7:30-9:30am today, in still, warm conditions, from the swamp at Ferndale to the fields bordering Ellsmore Rd, and then to Morton NP and the bottom of Erith Coal Mine, produced sixty species, including my first Variegated Fairy-wren for the Southern Highlands, which I stumbled upon on the track to Erith Coal Mine. The individual was a striking male. I'm surprised it's taken me so long to find one in the Highlands. The other birds worth mentioning were Dollarbird (which came back a couple of days ago), Shining Bronze-cuckoo (a pair whistled in near Ferndale Reserve; they were then mobbed by Brown Thornbills and Grey Fantails), Leaden Flycatcher, Pilotbird (heard, not seen, as per usual; when will I ever see one?), Rockwarbler (up close at the top of the falls at Erith Coal Mine; uttered harsh scrubwren-like scolding call when I imitated it), Rufous Whistlers, Common Koel, Olive-backed Oriole, Eastern Whipbird, Buff-rumped Thornbill, White-throated Gerygone, Noisy Friarbird and a White-browed Scrubwren I buzzed/clicked to that came within two feet of my right foot! LJ, October 21 2012.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


The NPWS crew must have been burning Morton NP last week, when I was in Braidwood, Ulladulla and Kioloa with an old mate, in pursuit of Hooded Plovers, Masked Owls and Olive Whistlers (see Birdline NSW at for more on that). The area burnt stretches between Gambells Rest and Grand Canyon Lookout. It is a black and gold wasteland, with many of the scribbly gums unscathed, oddly. There is no understorey remaining. The only birds in the wasted area were Laughing Kookaburras, probably looking for any exposed lizards. We're expecting an intense fire season over summer. Hopefully this burning has helped. LJ, October 7 2012.


The season's first Common Koel called yesterday and a Channel-billed Cuckoo called the day before (and yesterday). The Koel arrived the same day as last year, according to my records. The CBC is a couple of weeks early. As usual, the CBC was skirting the edge of Morton NP. LJ, 7 October 2012.

Friday, October 5, 2012


100+ woodswallows floating high up late this afternoon (too high for my nocs to work out the species). With them, a cool change arrived. Geez, three entries today - WB is turning into Twitter! LJ, 5 October 2012.


I had a 50 second view of a Square-tailed Kite over home at quarter to one. Wacko! That's bird 141. And a beauty. LJ, October 2012.


I had to get away from correcting Year 11 creative writing papers for a while, late morning. I've almost finished the pile of 150+. Headed down to sewage treatment plant area in hot, windy conditions. Great to see 3 Brown-headed Honeyeaters - huddled together like woodswallows - attempting to fend off the wind (something I've not seen them do before). They were allopreening for a while too. Dusky Woodswallows and White-throated Gerygones are back now. Several Rufous Whistlers were calling. A woman drove past, asked me whether I was bird watching. When I said yes, she said, "Good on you", then drove off. LJ, October 5 2012.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Gutsy winds tossed about fifty White-browed Woodswallows over home on the morning of September 29th. I've had very little to do with these birds over the years. They were my first WBWs for the Southern Highlands and species 140 for home. They're striking things up close. Their call is the call of a sparrow on steroids. On another note, Rufous Whistlers and Shining Bronze-cuckoos are back. I heard a few near the sewage treatment plant yesterday. Now for the Dollarbirds, Common Koels, Channel-billed Cuckoos and Black-faced Monarchs... LJ, October 3 2012.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


3 White-necked Herons were soaring high on thermals, over home, at 9am. An irregular sight in Bundanoon. LJ, September 22 2012.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I arrived at Bonnie View (my Mecca) at 5:30pm yesterday, to follow up on the possible Grey Currawong. Smoke, on some of the peaks to the south, grabbed my attention. I rang my wife, got her to look up numbers for the rural fire service etc. I ended up calling 000 and reporting it. The woman who took my call wasn't 100% sure what was going on. Strangely, I'd been thinking about fire in Morton NP earlier in the day, or maybe, I'd dreamt about it overnight. I was thinking about a fire's ferocity, celerity, the whole damn spectacle of it. I considered how long you'd wait to escape its brutishness if you were watching its dark dance from Bonnie View. Truly odd. Looking at the NSW Government's Environment & Heritage website this morning, I read that our rural fire fighters were doing some strategic fuel reduction burns near Tallong, at Caoura Ridge. This will tame the venom in summer wildfire. LJ, September 4 2012.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I bought this today, at Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka, Canberra. It came out last week. It is the definitive field guide to Australian birds. You can judge it by its cover. It shall be my new Bible. LJ, September 1, 2012.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I'm pretty sure I heard a couple of Grey Currawongs letting out chiming, fairly musical calls - somewhere between a blackbird and a parrot - to the south of Bonnie View, just before 6pm this evening. They could've been Bassian Thrushes calling though. Listening to online calls for both species, you can hear a few similar notes they share. I'll have to get back down there asap. Hopefully, the birds will be calling a little closer to BV next time. LJ, August 29 2012.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Here's a list of close to sixty birds I'm hoping to track down in Bundanoon (in rough taxonomic order). I haven't seen any of them in Bundanoon before. Some may require a deal of searching, others, luck, an alignment of the planets. Many may not live in Bundy at all. Regardless, none are beyond the realms of possibility. At the end of the day, it all comes down to timing... Spotless Crake, Australian Spotted Crake, Baillon's Crake, Little Bittern, Australasian Bittern, Black Bittern, Painted Snipe, Pink-eared Duck, Blue-billed Duck, Freckled Duck, Australian Shelduck, Glossy Ibis, Brown Quail, King Quail, Stubble Quail, Red-chested Button-quail, Little Eagle, Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Pacific Baza, Square-tailed Kite, Brown Falcon, Black Falcon, Australian Hobby, Nankeen Kestrel, Masked Owl, Emerald Dove, Peaceful Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Common Bronzewing, Brush Bronzewing, White-throated Nightjar, Fork-tailed Swift, Rainbow Bee-eater, Noisy Pitta, Turquoise Parrot, Red-rumped Parrot, Swift Parrot, Glossy Black-cockatoo, Logrunner, White-winged Triller, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Painted Honeyeater, Regent Honeyeater, Brown Treecreeper, Variegated Fairy-wren, Southern Emu-wren, Olive Whistler, Jacky Winter, Rufous Songlark, Brown Songlark, Richard's Pipit, Singing Bushlark, Skylark, Diamond Firetail, Nutmeg Mannikin, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Green Catbird, White-winged Chough and Grey Currawong. LJ, August 28 2012.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


It was minus one when I left home, at 6:50am, yesterday. Minus three where Golden Vale Road meets the Hume at Sutton Forest. Several degrees more than that when I got to work in Narellan, in south-west Sydney. There was snow in Crookwell, Queanbeyan and in northern Canberra at the end of last week. Apparently, the Brindabellas, to Canberra's west, received a fair dump. I was hoping for snow in Bundy on Saturday morning. Alas. Someone told me that the last time Bundanoon got substantial snow was eight years ago. LJ, August 21 2012.

Monday, August 6, 2012


My boy and I, on Saturday, came across a lyrebird's nest, that was either abandoned or under construction, on an exposed rock shelf at Grand Canyon Lookout. It was large, yet seemingly flimsy. I questioned how the construction could stay intact with all the wind that batters the cliff faces there. I'd not seen a lyrebird's nest before. Now, to see the maker at the nest... After a bit of rock climbing, investigating and running about the mottled, undulating rocks at the Lookout, we ventured into a damp fold of woodland thick with pouched coral ferns. I'd not seen so many coral ferns in Bundanoon. My son was excited. Apparently indigenous people used strands of these ferns to keep mosquitoes and flies away from their babies. LJ, 6 August 2012.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Seven Rainbow Lorikeets rocketed over home mid-morning, the most I've seen together at any one time in the Southern Highlands. Though everywhere in Sydney (and, I guess, in the Illawarra), they are infrequently seen in Bundanoon. LJ, 4 August 2012.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


A real wildlife doco moment this morning - a white morph Grey Goshawk circling slowly upwards in the valley below Riverview Lookout. A huge snowflake against a green ocean. I pointed it out to a local, who turned up. He was mildly interested. Such a stunning bird and only the second time I've seen this morph in Bundy. And I've never looked down on a Grey Goshawk before. The GG features in a poem I wrote months back and currently have in consideration for a poetry prize. Prior to this, I found species 139, an Eastern Shrike-tit, feeding and chattering in Grey Gum Lane's mid-storey. I din't think shrike-tits are that common in the Highlands. I've only seen them on the East Rim of Fitzroy Falls. LJ, July 29 2012.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Finally, Straw-necked Ibis in Bundanoon. I've been waiting for them to turn up. I recently saw many of them feeding frantically on Bong Bong Common between Moss Vale and Bowral. Ten or so flew over home late today, just as I was turning into my driveway after a long day at work. They're unexpectedly striking birds in flight. The flock cruised over to Morton NP; maybe, they were heading to the Shoalhaven. Species 138 for town. LJ, July 27 2012.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


A Water Rat paddling in a creek was the last thing I expected to see in Bundanoon early this morning. Peter Lach-Newinsky and I braved icy gusts and went in search of Platypuses for an hour or so. We had no luck with the Platypus, but had staggering views of the Water Rat, which showed off on creek bank rocks about six feet away from us for about a minute, then vanished. Several bubbles coming to the water's surface alerted me to the mammal's presence. We'd seen the thing swimming downstream from where we were five minutes earlier. The Rat was orange-rufous below and blackish on its upper parts. A long tail ended in a white tip. This white tip threw Peter and I re. identification. I kept thinking of a Giant White-tailed Rat I once watched scale a tree in an orchard at birding Mecca Kingfisher Park (Julatten, North Queensland) in the late 90s. Obviously, it wasn't a southern specimen of the GWTR as they're not found in NSW. Peter and I joked about discovering a new species and came up with silly Latin terms for it. I don't think I've ever seen a Water Rat before. LJ, July 15 2012.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


The following, written by John Carroll, a professor of sociology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, appeared in The Australian the Saturday before last... 'Australian nature teaches reverence for a grander scheme than the mortal human. It places human endeavour in perspective. The nation's sceptical habit of mind may have its source here.' Interesting. I subscribe to John's way of thinking. I love the economic, pithy lines. I'm not quite sure what he's getting at when he talks about our 'sceptical habit of mind'. Maybe, he's saying wilderness encourages us to be humble, utterly aware of our mortality, not showy, distrustful, cautious. He goes on to say that the 'awesome power of nature that frames the Australian experience' has led to 'ambivalences' in our character. Are we profoundly scared of nature? Is that why so few of us are out in it regularly? Do we all feel uneasy when it comes to living in and dealing with nature? Nature can be anarchic after all. The majority of us are city dwellers for a reason. Could it be that cities are a lot more comfortable or comforting than country towns for the majority? Do people with small attention spans need regular entertainment in big cities? Do country areas bring a quiet that is threatening? Do people worry they'll be bored within nature? Who knows? I'm rambling. I'll have to keep thinking about this. LJ, July 8 2012.


The Beautiful Firetail was at exactly the same spot, feeding on exactly the same she-oak, at exactly the same time in the morning, today. I wonder if there are others. LJ, July 8 2012.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I parked the Hyundai Getz at Bonnie View at 10:30am, intending to meander up to Wishing Well in search of Crescent Honeyeaters, which I haven't been able to spot over the last few months, although I've heard their distinct, clipped calls many times since last December. The first thing I saw after stepping out of the car was a Beautiful Firetail feeding on the tiny cones of an uprooted casuarina directly behind the wooden 'Bonnie View' sign. This casuarina was uprooted/moved to make way for steps the NPWS have just put in (I'm not sure the steps are really needed here). I was stunned to see the Firetail; these birds aren't easy to find, especially as they are nomadic outside the breeding season (ie. now). I had superb views of it. The olive-bronze-grey of its plumage stood out more this time than on other occasions I've spent time with them. I've been birding at Bonnie View so many times and never heard/seen BFs before. Bonnie View is the 3rd location in the Southern Highlands I have for BFs. They're also on the Budderoo Plateau and at that iconic birding spot Barren Grounds Nature Reserve, where the Illawarra meets the Highlands... And I had fleeting views of the Crescent Honeyeater (male and female) at Wishing Well. The male was calling. According to my Pizzey and Knight and Morecombe guides, CHs are supposed to be in lowlands during Winter. What's going on here? LJ, July 5 2012.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


And a White-naped Honeyeater, zipping about in a loud mixed feeding flock of Crescent, New Holland, Yellow-faced and White-eared Honeyeaters (in the dry sclerophyll habitat at Wishing Well in Morton) late morning, became bird 136 for my Bundy list. Nice one. LJ, July 4 2012.


I saw my first 'Bundanoon' platypus at 8:45 this morning, when it was 4 degrees, still and overcast. I'm still jumping up and down! LJ, July 4 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012


Simon Robinson, Bunday local and ornithologist, asked me to lead a 'birding for beginners' outing yesterday, from 8:30am, which was good of him. Over twenty people turned up. We walked around Ferndale Reserve and environs, then drove on to Morton NP, investigating Gambells Rest and Erith Coal Mine's creek area. Soft rain, real rain, sun, wind, breeze, coolth, cold and warmth accompanied us - typical messed up winter weather. The birds were more active when the sun laughed and joked around. Nothing particularly noteworthy turned up species-wise. Locating a Yellow-throated Scrubwren's nest down at ECM was cool - the birders seemed fascinated. It was tremendous meeting people various and offering opinions on bird guides, where to go birding, the differences between ravens etc. A couple of kids were there. One of the kids was determined to see an Eastern Yellow Robin. She was stoked when Morton handed her a couple. Ah, seeing children seeing particular birds for the first time - thrilling. The first Eastern Yellow Robin I saw was dead, stuck to the front of a coach, bound for Mt Seaview in northern NSW! I was on a school trip. It was 1986. I was in Year 9. I'm glad this girl saw her robin whizzing about and perching on the sides of trees. LJ, July 2 2012.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Not a lot to report of late... The mornings are algid enough to have you thinking of yourself and not getting ill. There's been the odd frost - one feels as if one is treading on Rice Bubbles... The other morning there was a waning crescent moon in the rising sun's sky - gorgeous... I went for a lengthy jaunt (Gambells Rest - Fairy Bower Falls - The Amphitheatre - Mark Morton Lookout - Gambells Rest) about ten days ago. The walk was demanding in certain sections as there were fallen trees (courtesy of recent high winds) and sodden paths of fallen fern fronds. Happened across a male Superb Lyrebird flapping his wings, shimmering and in full song. I didn't get to see the breeding display though. Something I'm looking forward to witnessing... For a few minutes I found complete silence in-between The Amphitheatre and MML. Not a bird calling. No wind disturbing the canopy. It was surprising, spooky even. Real silence, intense silence, is so, so rare, so, so necessary... A fox has been around home. I heard it uttering its wheeze-yap out in the bleeding pitch on two nights. Its calls to the moon, Morton and man, had my Cocker Spaniel crying back... I crushed a Funnel-web at the backdoor recently. The second I've seen: the other was during July, 2011... Last Sunday, just before dusk, my boy and I searched in vain for the Little Bittern that is seen irregularly about the dams and swampy bits of Peter Lach-Newinsky's grand property. Such a phantom-thing. I've only seen one once, years ago, at Eastlakes Golf Course in Sydney. It is rarely seen, most probably overlooked. The bird could well be a lot more plentiful than people believe. At the end of the day, how many birders are really putting in hrs searching for them? LJ, June 21 2012.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I usually steer away from politics on this blog site. Not today. No way. I'm completely unimpressed by Barry O'Farrell's call to let recreational shooters into NSW national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas (notice the words reserves and conservation there). Potentially, Morton National Park is one of them. It's on the list. OUR Morton National Park. The Morton that is our backbone, our lungs, even our identity. The Morton with its immortal gullies, mentioned so often in Bundanoon's literature. Who's going to police these shooters when they're prowling through Morton NP? Who can guarantee rare or endangered wildlife in Morton isn't harmed? Who can be sure bushwalkers, picnicking families etc aren't harmed? How will I know when it is safe to enter Morton to go birding? How can visitors to the park know they're safe? This is a bloody joke. I'm sure the hunters will bring pig dogs with them. Who's going to stop one of these dogs attacking vulnerable species like Superb Lyrebirds and Black Wallabies? There better be a bloody huge sign at the entrance to Gambells Rest telling all of us that shooting is happening. This better be thought through, monitored, dealt with sensibly, by those 'in charge'. Our NPWS rangers are up in arms about this. Not surprisingly. Thanks, Backwoods Barry, for returning us to the Dark Ages. LJ, June 5 2012 PS - 'Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.' James A. Froude.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


My thanks to Michelle Hrlec for broadcasting her interview with me on her blog talk radio show Wingello Village Life last Sunday afternoon. She and I went for a walk near Gambells Rest in Morton NP last week, on a pristine Autumn morning, and I rambled on about anything and everything to do with birds and birding. Michelle asked interesting questions on migration, weather, magpies etc. You can hear our discussion at - click on Episode 6. I hope you enjoy it. LJ, Anzac Day 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I'm surprised I'm yet to unearth the following birds in Bundanoon: Brown Falcon, Australian Kestrel (seen one at Exeter), Straw-necked Ibis (I've seen many at Moss Vale), Grey Currawong (seen them at Penrose), White-winged Chough (seen them at Penrose)... Where are you hiding?

LJ, April 11 2012.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Below are a few Bundanoon bird sightings worth noting (in reverse chronological order) from this year. Rainbow Lorikeets were around a lot more than in past years. Gang-gangs Cockatoos and Wedge-tailed Eagles turned up regularly. A Weebill was a great record. Repeat visits to the swamp by Ferndale Reserve proved fruitful (I was doing this mainly for writing purposes; I recently entered the Voiceless Writing Prize with a long essay on Bundanoon)... a Latham's Snipe turned up on one occasion. Unfortunately, the Crescent Honeyeaters I heard near Bonnie View in Nov/Dec 2011, were not heard again. So, have a read below - it's a bit repetitive! I've now found 135 species in Bundanoon.

Home - waves of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters heading north, 1 Gang-gang Cockatoo
Oval area - 2 Peregrine Falcons (high up)
Ferndale Swamp - 1 White-eared Honeyeater (heard)
Old Wingello Rd - 1 White-throated Treecreeper (scaling a telegraph pole: an amusing first for me: I guess it's just another tree to a WTT)

Bonnie View - 1 White-eared Honeyeater heard calling on escarpment to east (first time I've heard one here), Pilotbird (heard)
Beauchamp Cliffs - 1 Superb Lyrebird
Home - 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles, 1 Lewin's Honeyeater, an Eastern Yellow Robin (heard nearby; closest to home it's ever been)

Home - 1 Rainbow Lorikeet

Ferndale Swamp - 1 White-eared Honeyeater (back, after months away; there must be some altitudinal dispersal with the local birds), 1 Azure Kingfisher (!), many Grey Fantails, 1 White-throated Gerygone (sticking around?), Grey Shrike-thrushes (bathing and eating worms on the ground)

Home - 6 Varied Sittellas flying over (a rarity), 7 Yellow-rumped Thornbills flying over (unusual), Lewin's Honeyeater (first time in the backyard)
Penrose Rd - 4 Gang-gang Cockatoos (always good to see these beauties)
Ellsmore Rd - 1 Wedge-tailed Eagle (low, heading west, over paddocks)

The Gullies Rd - 1 Rufous Fantail (such active things; that rufous is so striking), 6 Grey Fantails

Bonnie View - 2 Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens (I prefer the name Hylacola, really; these birds are notoriously difficult to see; my view of one was fleeting; the other was heard making a scrubwren-like trill), 10 White-throated Needletails (arcing high over southern gullies), Pilotbird (heard, I've not seen one yet in Bundy), Superb Lyrebird (heard)

Home - 7 Gang-gang Cockatoos (a cracking number - one rarely sees this no. together)

Home - 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles, a few Rainbow Lorikeets

Ferndale swamp/Bundanoon Sewage Works - 2 Gang-gang Cockatoos, 1 juv. Azure Kingfisher (!), circa 9 Black-fronted Dotterels (the most I've ever seen together, anywhere), 2 Buff-rumped Thornbills (seen now and again), many Red-browed Finches (inc. immatures), 5 Yellow-rumped Thornbills

Home - 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles

Home - 1 Gang-gang Cockatoo (heard)

Ferndale swamp - 1 Weebill seen in the scribbly gum mid-storey on outskirts of oval (Australia's smallest bird; my first Weebill in the Southern Highlands!), 3 Dollarbirds, 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters

Home - 4 Little Ravens (a lot) and 2 Australian Ravens
Ferndale swamp - 1 Australian Reed-warbler, 1 Dollarbird
Quarry Rd - 1 Dollarbird in a paddock
Birchwood Rd - 1 Wedge-tailed Eagle

Home - 2 Gang-gang Cockatoos

Echo Point - 1 Gang-gang Cockatoo (heard), 2 Superb Lyrebirds (heard)
Anzac Parade - 1 Rainbow Lorikeet
Home - 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles

Bundanoon Club - 2 Rainbow Lorikeets

Home - 1 Rainbow Lorikeet

Home - 3 Gang-gang Cockatoos

Bundanoon Pool - 2 Gang-gang Cockatoos

Ferndale swamp/sewage works - 1 female Australasian Shoveler (on swamp water), 1 Dollarbird, 1 European Goldfinch (on ground, sipping water from a puddle; these are seen infrequently)

Ferndale swamp - 4 Dollarbirds (2 of which were dipping momentarily into water), White-necked Heron (sunbathing, with open wings), 1 White-throated Gerygone, a few Dusky Woodswallows, 1 Olive-backed Oriole, Tree Martins, c.20 White-throated Needletails, 2 Leaden Flycatchers, Sacred Kingfishers

Ferndale swamp - 2 Red-browed Treecreepers (the first time I've seen them there), 1 White-throated Gerygone, male Leaden Flycatcher (!)

Ferndale swamp - 1 Latham's Snipe (tremendous stuff: my first record for Bundy: it would've recently flown in from Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan), 1 Leaden Flycatcher, 4 Dollarbirds
Blue Gum Rd - 2 Dollarbirds

Home - 2 Gang-gang Cockatoos

Ferndale swamp/sewage works - I think I MIGHT have seen a Baillon's Creek disappearing into reeds, but I wasn't sure; Dusky Woodswallows, White-necked Heron, 3 Hardhead (unusual)

Grey Gum Lane area - 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles, hunting, falling into stoops

Morton NP (near Gambells Rest) - 1 Australian Owlet-nightjar (heard)

Home - 2 Rainbow Lorikeets

LJ, April 6 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012


Well done to avid Bundy birder John Shepherd who found a pair of Hooded Robins near Stingray Swamp at Penrose on Saturday morning. I've got to follow this up. I've not seen a Hooded Robin for about fifteen years. The males are stunning, even though they're pied and dumpy. HRs are listed as 'vulnerable' in NSW by DEC. John's record is the most easterly record I'm aware of. HRs are mostly found west of the Great Dividing Range (and irregularly). Between John and his wife Jenny, the robins of the Southern Highlands are covered!

LJ, March 19 2012.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I meant to put this in my previous post. Really, it warrants its own post.

Some time in mid-January, my boy and I were out walking our cocker spaniel. We came to the pub. A drinker, standing in the front beer garden stated flatly, 'Watch out for the brown snake'. Indeed, a brownish snake was moving lethargically along the pavement by the wall that skirts the beer garden. I tied my dog to a railing and my son and I tentatively checked out the snake, which was about fifty centimetres long. Soon, walkers and drinkers alike were all out looking at it.

Consensus had the snake as a Highlands Copperhead, not an Eastern Brown Snake. The serpent got itself into a gutter. One drinker suggested he jump in his Toyota and run the snake over, adding that misguided cliche, 'The only good snake is a dead snake'. One bloke turned up with a broom and approached the snake. I asked him not to kill the thing. A passing 4WD was stopped, so the driver wouldn't crush the Copperhead. The broom-man brushed the snake away, so it slithered sluggishly across the road and retreated into the bushes by the railway station.

This was the fist living Highlands Copperhead I'd seen. My brother-in-law over in Bowral has had to kill a couple as he has many kids to think about. I've seen their cool bodies slung over barbed wire fences.

Herpetologist, Harold Cogger, states, in one of his textbooks, that Exeter is the Copperhead capital of NSW (I saw one there the other day - eastern side of railway line). I guess Bundy would be the other capital.

LJ, March 6 2012.

Monday, March 5, 2012


My Lord, is that actually sunshine I see out there? Let's hope it lasts more than a few hours and we can hang on to what remains of this peculiar, mercurial summer.

Local birder, Jenny Shepherd, claimed to have seen a female Pink Robin foraging in her backyard close to two weeks ago. The tan arrowhead markings in the secondaries convinced her of this. She was sure it wasn't a juvenile whistler or female Scarlet or Flame Robin. If she is right, then this is an tremendous record, as the Southern Highlands is pretty much the northern limit of the bird's range (though one PR was seen in north-west Sydney in the 90s). There was a female in the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, during May 2011. I've never seen a Pink Robin. I wish I'd been with Jenny when she saw it.

Most of our migratory birds have vanished. I haven't heard a Common Koel (I had an immature at home for quite a while), a Shining Bronze-cuckoo or a Black-faced Monarch, for weeks. Our Channel-billed Cuckoos usually depart late December. Dollarbirds are still around - there was one bird perched on power lines along Birchwood Drive yesterday. I guess he or she will take to the air and push north very soon.

I had the pleasure, a few weeks back now, of watching a pair of Dollarbirds hawking over my yard before nightfall. This went on for about thirty minutes. At one stage, one of the birds was only about fifteen feet above my head. Neither bird made any noise when foraging. Sometimes, they dissected the full moon.

Not long ago, I happened to see, with the aid of a torch, a trapdoor in its front garden burrow consuming a centipede. It took a while to eat it. This trapdoor didn't have any 'trap door' at the entrance to its home.

I'm eager to tramp down to Erith Coal Mine in the next couple of days so as to see how much water is powering over the scarp there.

The freetail bat is still living in the pergola. My son and I saw it arrive home this morning at 6:25am.

There are so many slugs and snails about at the moment. It's a little off-putting. My wife trod on a leopard slug (?) the night before last... the creature's ooze stuck to the sole of her boot. I tried to scrape the ooze off her boot to no avail.

You probably didn't need to read that last bit. Who really cares about slugs and their slime? My apologies.

LJ, March 5 2012.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I'm no microbat expert, but I reckon I've got a White-striped Freetail Bat roosting in the ridge of my pergola (I'm basing this opinion on the mammal's size). Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to see the bat return to one end of the ridge (which was about ten feet away from me), after a couple of flybys. This was at ten past six in the morning. Last night, I waited for the bat to reemerge, to take on the impending darkness. It did, ears first, then hid. Two minutes later, the ears appeared again. The bat then dropped headfirst from its hiding spot, in one easy movement, and flew away, over the roof of my house, to hunt. I've seen a few small bats in Bundy before, but never at this close range.

LJ, February 16 2012.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Here are some tips (from twenty-five or so years of experience) for novices on how to be a better birder...

I'm not a twitcher (that obsessive birder who jumps on a plane as soon as, say, a Grey Nightjar or House Swift turns up at the limits of Australia's territories, then busts a gut hoping to 'tick' it), but I'm a keen birder who spends every hour of every day with part of him in tune with what our birds are up to. So, here are some things to contemplate when in the field (from an east coast of Australia perspective).

1. Listen, listen, listen. Most of birding is actually being alert to the various calls birds make. Familiarise yourself with a Noisy Miner's repertoire. NMs are particularly adept at emitting loud, piping, high-pitched raptor warning calls. This alarm call has helped me spot many birds of prey over the years: Pacific Bazas, Grey Goshawks, Collared Sparrowhawks, Australian Hobbies, Peregrine Falcons etc. They also make a different, more drawn out (read whiney) call which tells you there's a perched predatory bird close by (good for finding Boobook Owls). Birds make a racket for a reason, often. If cockatoos, currawongs and magpies are all carrying on, I'd bet a raptor is responsible. Try to understand the language of birds as much as you can.

2. Buy every Australian bird field guide on the market. Make sure you purchase the latest editions. They all have their benefits; they are not exactly the same. I love Pizzey & Knight for the textual detail, Simpson & Day for the clear illustrations, Slater for the info on vagrant birds, Morecombe for close detail on distinctive plumage. Debus has two great guides out, one on birds of prey, the other, recently published, on owls and frogmouths.

3. Go birding at any time of the day, not just after dawn and before dusk. Go out in light rain and mist - many birds are still active then.

4. Revisit local spots. One or two visits will not give you a true indication of what birds frequent the area. A case in point is my local swamp. I've been there many, many times. Only recently did I see my first Latham's Snipe there (a summer migrant that's flown from Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan).

5. Buy binoculars that suit you. I've never bought expensive 'bins' in case I damage them. Know how to use them. Rely on the naked eye as much as possible, then lift the bins when a bird is in a particular position. Know how to quickly focus/adjust your bins. If you lose a bird in a tree, don't try to locate it again with your bins, use your naked eye.

6. Imitate calls. This works well for Powerful Owls! Whistlers, thornbills, flycatchers, pardalotes, scrubwrens, misteletoebirds etc. may come closer to you if you call them in.

7. Predict or read up on what birds are expected to be in a habitat before you visit it. This will avoid identification confusion in the field.

8. Do a hell of a lot of birding by yourself so you can immerse yourself in the world that surrounds you. Only then will you really understand what birds are doing, why they're acting the way they do, what calls they're making etc. Birding with others, though terrific, can be distracting (saying that, I've been guilty of being too loud/enthusiastic in groups before and had certain folks tssk tssk me!).

8. Look at everything around you when you're out and about - the sky might contain needletails/swifts or eagles, the understorey may produce logrunners or quails, there could be a flock of sitellas and monarchs in the midstorey, as well as thornbills and lorikeets in the canopy.

9. Visit the websites 'Eremaea' and 'Birds in Backyards' regularly. Document any interesting sightings on the birdlines Eremaea offers. BIB is a great sight for bird calls; I often use it when trying to distinguish certain honeyeater's calls.

10. You don't have to dress like a rebel or soldier when birding. I guess camouflaged clothing helps, but I've never been fussed. Wearing bright colours from head to toe may not work in the bush, but if you're looking at waders on a beach, a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper isn't going to care too much.

11. Have fun. Laugh a bit. Birding shouldn't be a serious business. Let's celebrate the exquisite bird life we have by our sides. Humour and enthusiasm can only draw more people in.

I hope this is beneficial. May your next bird be a lifer.

LJ, February 4 2012.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I thought I'd begin 2012 with something different - an interview with poet, activist, ecologist, Bundanoon local and mate, Peter Lach-Newinsky. Here Peter talks about many things including coal seam gas extraction, Peak Oil, the origins of apples, an out-of-control fire on his property and his dog, Billy.

What's kept you in Bundanoon for so long?

Bundanoon itself. Bundy is a biodiversity hotspot and still pleasant small village. Perhaps the question can also be read to imply moving often is a natural thing to do. It's not popular to say so but I think hyper-mobility and mass tourism will just be a historical blip due to the historically short era of cheap oil. Although I've had to move about a fair bit in my life, I don't like or believe in the wisdom of frequent moving. Too stressful for self and planet. Maybe it's time we all stuck around long enough somewhere to really care for it - ie. grow some roots in a place, know its ecology and culture intimately rather than just be temporary visitors passing through - 'permanent transients' in Edward Albee's phrase. Peak Oil will do that for us anyway.

A nature lover from overseas arrives on your property for the first time. What do you show them straight away and why?

First, the five over 200 year-old messmates for a sense of perspective. Then, for an even wider perspective, the 120 heirloom varieties of apple tree in the orchard, including the weird and tough-as-boots Court Pendu Plat brought to Northern Europe by the Romans. Because apple trees are propagated not from seed but by grafting, our tree will have come directly from that original Roman(?) tree from two thousand years ago, passed on like a flaming torch through the centuries by apple tree grafters and growers. This fact still amazes me.

Tell me something else I don't know about apples.

Wild apple forests originated five million years ago in the Tan Shan mountains on the borders of Kazakhstan and China, where they still exist. Each neighbouring tree a different variety. The sweetness we like about apples was first selected by our mammal cousins like bears and pigs. Then we added about 10,000 varieties over the centuries. Now, due to industrial food growing, we have very few left.

What creature living on your property appeals to you most and why?

Our border collie, Billy, because he has a large and gentle soul.

How does your property enhance your poetic voice?

Perhaps a poem written on site might be an answer to that question...

Summer Dam

The way reeds succumb to gravity's wind,
sky force propelling them water-wards,
soul-wards till all is grace & light

or a water lily open-handed
to the sun, flat paddle-leaved,
still as an emblem

over the brown murk of water
flicked, tensing like the dun ripple
on a stallion's silk rump

marsh frogs clicking their pebbles
of territorial air, a cabbage white
jinking & reeling low, drunk

with shimmer, two dragonflies
reed-locked & pumping
their violent U, distant screeching

cockatoos planning their next blitz
on wattle seeds, apples, equanimity,
nature romantic to the urban mind.

Has global warming affected your property in any way?

The effects of global warming are of course regional and becoming apparent over time. We are already experiencing decreased average rainfall, more and longer droughts, milder winters. All this impacts on our property in terms of planning for changes in water availability, soil moisture retention and growing different plant species and varieties more adapted to the changed conditions.

What's your position on coal seam gas/fracking (I think I can guess!)?

In my view it's a criminal, last ditch attempt by the energy corporations and governments to extract the harder-to-get fossil fuels that have now become more economically viable because of rising energy prices due to diminishing supplies in the age of Peak Oil. To poison or deplete aquifers, especially in the age of increasing water scarcity and thus food insecurity - both due to climate chaos - should be a capital crime.

What part of Morton National Park do you most love?

The walk to Erith Coal Mine for its rich and shifting biodiversity and altitudinal changes in vegetation and vibe. Good for the cardiovascular system.

Share with me a story from life on your property.

Mid-nineties, I was trying to reduce some blackberry patches by burning off. The fire became a grass fire that very quickly got out of control. There was no house on the property then. This was also before mobiles. I had to drive to a neighbour's to phone the bush fire brigade. When I drove back, I could see huge billowing clouds of smoke rising from our property and my heart sank through my boots as I thought that the fire might now have spread to the big trees and our neighbour's property. Luckily, it hadn't, although it had spread up the grass slope and was licking the big trees. After a long and nervous wait, the bush fire brigade finally arrived in totally laid-back fashion, and to my surprise considered it an insignificant kind of fire, even complimenting me on trying to burn off blackberry. They put it out in no time and even politely declined my offer of money or at least a couple of beers. Long live our bush fire fighters.

Will you stay in Bundanoon for many years to come?

If possible, I'd like to only leave this place inside a coffin.

LJ, January 16 2012.