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.