Sunday, December 29, 2013
Windy conditions enticed four Wedge-tailed Eagles into the cool air above the paddocks and wooded ridge beyond Ellsmore Rd early this morning. I sat above a culvert on Birchwood Drive and watched them soar, dive, arc, spiral and do sections of a pot-hook display (diving and rising quickly). One bird, when harassed by another, rolled and parried (ie. it flipped upside down and faced its opponent with outstretched talons). I watched all this for twenty minutes. A grand way to start the day. LJ, 29 December 2013.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Jenny Shepherd emailed to say she recently had a Blue-faced Honeyeater in her yard. A great Bundanoon record. I'd say Blue-faced Honeyeaters are rare, even accidental, visitors to the Southern Highlands. Wish I'd seen it. They're one of the most striking honeyeaters found in NSW. LJ, December 24 2013
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Friday, December 13, 2013
Little Lorikeet (a pair rocketing through the sky, heading to the south-east), White-throated Needletails (3 birds quite low at home; I love their fluttery flight interspersed with glides on long, sickle-like wings) and an Australian Owlet-nightjar (the bird's distinct single note heard just once). Nice one. LJ, December 13 2013.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
A strident, repeated buzzing close to home caught my attention early Saturday morning. At first, I thought it was a White-winged Triller. I went on to the Birds in Backyards website and downloaded a Triller's call. It wasn't that - this call had no musicality whatsoever. The other bird that sprang to mind was a Cicadabird. I headed over to Graeme Chapman's website, which incorporates an extensive database of Aussie bird calls, and listened to the first recording he had a of a Cicadabird. Bang. That was it. Really, I should know the difference without having to consult databases - this isn't far north-west WA! Birds can still test you, no matter how experienced you are. I haven't seen a Cicadabird for many, many years. I can't actually recall the last time I saw one. Unfortunately, I didn't have any time to chase the bird, as I was off to Canberra for the day. That's bird 161 for town. LJ, December 1 2013.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
The other day at Bonnie View, there was a Beautiful Firetail with nesting material in its mouth. It's been months since I last saw one in Bundy. The bird's red, so cutting/dazzling in its green-grey context, just brings the world back to life. LJ, November 22 2013.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
I didn't expect to see an Eastern Long-necked Tortoise and an Eastern Water Dragon sunbathing together on a slimy log jutting out of a creek not far from Shangri la Road today, when it was muggy, before rain decided to make a day of it. This is the same creek where I've spotted both Swamp Rat and Platypus. An Azure Kingfisher patrols the creek now and again. So, a healthy ecosystem. Today's Tortoise was munching on something unrecognisable, vaguely fishy. At my approach, both creatures plummeted to the water and vanished without a trace (the Dragon was particularly nervous, getting going before the Tortoise). That's the first time I've seen each creature in Bundanoon. If only I'd had my camera! LJ, November 16 2013.
Friday, November 8, 2013
I've had two recent reports of Eastern Brown Snake sightings in town. One EBS was seen swimming across the pool at the bottom of Erith Coal Mine's falls (cool!), the other was seen on a property next to the railway lines, close to Penrose Rd. I've only seen two Eastern Brown Snakes in my life, one of which was dead, so I'd love to see another. A herpetologist was on ABC radio the other morning saying a woman recently died from an EBS bite. Apparently, she wasn't aware she'd been bitten by the thing and got medical attention too late. Poor woman. On another note, there was a dead, almost four-foot long, Red-bellied Black Snake by the side of Penrose Rd about two weeks ago. LJ, November 8 2013.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
A spontaneous drive out to Echo Point (Morton) last night, with my good mate Andre de Borde (curator, artist, owner of Gallery Ecosse and Bundy local), unearthed a range of mammals with the help of his 4WD's high beams: Red-necked Wallaby (terrific to find this species again; I saw one fleetingly back in 2009), Common Wombat, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Common Brushtail Possum and Black (Swamp) Wallaby (there were four of these). Some sort of microbat was clicking in the gloom off Echo Point. Boobook Owls were very vocal at Echo Point and near Gambells Rest. LJ, October 22 2013.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
A Little Grassbird, calling from the densely vegetated periphery of the large dam by Shangri La Road yesterday afternoon, now brings my ever-expanding Bundanoon bird list to 158. This secretive, drab-coloured bird makes a distinct, drawn out, three-note whistle, alerting the keen birder to its presence. A marshy area by a string of ponds in East Bowral is the only other place I've found this species in the Southern Highlands. So, the question remains - can I make it to 200 species? Absolutely. You bet. Of course. Here's a list of 40 birds that may well appear one day: Painted Snipe, Banded Lapwing, Red-kneed Dotterel, Australian Shelduck, Freckled Duck, Plumed Whistling-duck, Wandering Whistling-duck, Little Bittern, Brown Bittern, Black Bittern, Australian Pelican, Australian Spotted Crake, Baillon's Crake, Spotless Crake, Lewin's Rail, Brown Quail, Stubble Quail, King Quail, Red-chested Button-quail (apparently one was seen fleetingly in a garden on Church St several years ago), Pacific Baza, Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Black Falcon (my mate Marty thought he saw one a week back flying high over his place; we've both seen one recently at Moss Vale), Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Barking Owl, White-throated Nightjar, Emerald Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Common Bronzewing, Brush Bronzewing, Topknot Pigeon, Musk Lorikeet, Red-rumped Parrot, Pallid Cuckoo, Spotted Quail-thrush, White-winged Triller, Painted Honeyeater, Rufous Songlark and White-winged Chough. Fingers crossed. LJ, 13.10.13.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Off to Peter Lach-Newinsky's tonight for a convivium with Bundanoon locals. Should be great. I'm talking about Aussie birds and birding in Bundy. I hope the guests get into it and I don't bore them to tears. It's all about knowing when to stop, methinks. I don't want them thinking they had a night in with Rain Man! LJ, October 1 2013.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Monday, September 16, 2013
A Eurasian Skylark, calling somewhere in grey skies above Old Argyle Rd, has brought my Bundanoon list to 157 species. I've seen skylarks before in the Southern Highlands - on the Berrima side of Moss Vale. Can I record 200 species in Bundy? It'll take some searching, prayers and serendipity, but I reckon, in time, it can be done. On another note, I heard a Channel-billed Cuckoo, freshly back from migration, trumpet raucously at 7:15am today. That's five weeks earlier than usual, according to my records from 2010, 2011 and 2012. Maybe, the unnaturally warm spring (it's been Sydney's warmest start to spring since records began) has caused this. Maybe, global warming is behind it all. LJ, September 16 2013.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
This fine, warm Spring weather has brought out copperheads (though this snake is active in cooler weather too). My mate Marty saw a big one recently on the path at Jordans Crossing; a friend of my wife (who lives off Penrose Rd) has had one in her front yard (her neighbour had one too; perhaps it was the same individual). So, watch your step when you're out and about. Though snakes will do everything they can to avoid you, and don't go out of their way to pursue you (no matter what people might claim), a cornered copperhead would strike if pushed. LJ, September 12 2013.
Monday, September 9, 2013
How did I deal with a spoilt, narrow-minded, conservative nation putting Tony Abbott into power? I immersed myself in the natural glories of this town. Here are the things that struck me most: my backyard crabapple in full bloom, a neighbour's magnolia, a Grey Goshawk floating above the gullies by Church Street, a lone Richard's Pipit on a gate by Shangri La Rd, sunshine cutting through the grey and the whooping of a pair of Brown Cuckoo-doves. LJ, September 9 2013.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Today started with me admiring Crimson Rosellas feeding amidst pink blossoms, pouring warm water over windscreen ice and dragging a dead Eastern Grey Kangaroo off Penrose Road by its tail. The roo, a big female, had only recently been hit. Its nose and eyes were bloodied. Obviously, major head trauma led to its death. When driving to work on the Hume Highway, I cursed myself for not checking the roo's pouch. LJ, August 21 2013.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Friday, August 16, 2013
I just got some top views of the Pink-eared Duck John Shepherd told me about! The striking browns, tans and caramels of their plumage makes me think of gelato. And the pink ear is a pink marshmallow. Their bills are incredible, reminding me of a hollowed out door stopper, or odd licorice. As I was about to leave the sewage works, the duck tucked his head in his wing and perched on his left leg. May he/she sleep well. Bird 156! A terrific way to end a hectic week at work. LJ, August 16 2013.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Local birder John Shepherd saw a Pink-eared Duck at the sewage treatment works last week. Nice one. I'm yet to put that on my Bundy list. LJ, August 14 2013.
Monday, August 12, 2013
I was stoked to come across 9 Australasian (Richard's) Pipits in a stony paddock by Shangri la Rd yesterday afternoon in still, bright, warm conditions. Though common, Australia-wide birds, Australasian Pipits are not easy to see in the Southern Highlands. I was just thinking how good the habitat was for pipits, then, bang - nine of them! That's my 155th species for Bundanoon. LJ, August 12 2013.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
I awoke at 6am to find a grinning full moon, moonlight spilled all over the backyard, a sun playing hide and seek, diluted pink-cyan skies, minus four degrees and ice smothering my Hyundai. I'm sure I heard a bunch of Mammoths trumpeting and yawping from the other side of the railway line. LJ, July 25 2013.
Right now, there are 3 dead wombats close to the yellow 'watch out for wombats' sign I had the council erect some time ago. The absolute, irrefutable definition of irony! The absolute, irrefutable definition of waste. Welcome to Bundanoon, home of dead wombats. Embarrassing, isn't it? Again, I'll say it - motorists need to slow right down. Luckily, the animals aren't endangered. Still, I wonder how these deaths (let's say, one a fortnight on average) are affecting the overall population of wombats in the area. Probably not dramatically. I'd like to see weeks go by without a wombat being whacked by a car. Let's see if this can happen... LJ, July 25 2013.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Late yesterday, 2 Bassian Thrushes were feeding out in the open by Coalmines Road, two hundred metres or so before you come to Santi Forest Monastery (I love that name). Bassian Thrushes are usually found in dense wet sclerophyll forest/rainforest where there's a lot of leaf litter and a distinct canopy, so seeing them between pines, on well-maintained grass, near a driveway and road, was somewhat surprising. It's always cool spying these cryptic, wary birds. Their feeding habits reminded me of a Blackbird's; they run like a quail-thrush, or a quail. LJ, July 14 2013.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Finally, a Brown Falcon for my Bundy list (no. 154). About bloody time. A single bird was cruising and weaving extremely high over home today (the erratic flight threw me somewhat). With the naked eye, the bird looked like a silver balloon. Its rufous/brown/white underside was distinct through the nocs. I've never seen a BF at that height before. I'm most surprised it's taken me close to 3 years to find a BF in my hometown, as I've seen them in several Southern Highlands locations before... Forty-five minutes after seeing the BF, 2 Peregrine Falcons shot over home, one letting out a clear 'kek kek kek kek'; most probably the same pair of birds I saw at the end of Greasons Rd yesterday. Ah, a day with falcons is a day in heaven. The Grey, Black, Brown and Peregrine are my very favourite Australian birds. LJ, July 2013.
Friday, July 5, 2013
Blue-billed Ducks are birds I've only seen on three or four occasions since beginning birding seriously in the late 80s. They aren't easy to find. Thus, I was stoked to find four BBDs on water off Shangri la Rd, yesterday, at dusk. The birds seemed identical, with a male in eclipse plumage (meaning it was missing its distinctive blue bill and chestnut feathers). The foursome were busily diving, feeding, cruising. Bird 153 for town. LJ, July 5 2013.
Friday, June 28, 2013
I just spoke with local Anglican Rev. Jeremy Tonks at Winterfest's street party. We discussed the deluge of rain we've endured. Jeremy told me he's recorded eleven inches since last Monday. That's a fair whack. My rain gauge overflowed days back. The backyard is a quagmire. There should be duckboards, broken trees, barbed wire, men in gas masks. Still, the conditions brought a Pobblebonk to the house last night. LJ, June 28.
Monday, June 24, 2013
If you're planning on coming to the birding for beginners bash this weekend, dress warmly. Beanie, jacket, jumper, gloves perhaps. It's been miserable here over the weekend. The recent Winter Solstice means five weeks of cold weather. I hope the rain holds off for the 4 hrs we're out. LJ, June 24 2013.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
In late January, I had a chat with ABC Open journo Sean O'Brien about blogging, birding, hunting and Bonnie View in Morton NP. That conversation is to be broadcast on Radio National's 'Off Track' program this coming Saturday. A podcast can be downloaded now from the RN website. Sincere thanks to Sean for his interest in my world and professionalism. I hope you enjoy the feature. LJ, June 12 2013.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
2 Greater Gliders, a Yellow-throated Scrubwren's nest and a shooting star were the highlights of 2 hrs out with Marty on the tracks to Glow Worm Glen and Dimmocks Creek car park. I was thrilled to see the Greater Gliders (dark chocolate brown and cream-toned specimens) and their distinct white eye shine. They were still, high up in eucalypts. I last saw these stunning mammals in September 2012, in Mongo National Park near Braidwood. That Mongo night I had 7 of them! Last night's Greater Gliders were the first I've recorded for the Southern Highlands. They may be moderately common in the right habitat. LJ, 11 June 2013.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
I'm leading Winterfest's Birding for Beginners bash again this year (thanks, Simon Robinson). I'm very much looking forward to it. I'll show beginners how to identify particular species, differentiate specific bird calls, master binocular use, find species quickly in a field guide etc. A few good species should be about - Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Scarlet Robins, White-necked Herons, Superb Lyrebirds. Each beginner will be given a list of the birds I've seen in Bundanoon over about 3 years of searching. You'll need to bring your own morning tea/lunch. Be at Ferndale Reserve at 8:30am on Sunday June 30. Even if it's raining, there'll be birds about. The bash is free. Yahoo. I hope to see you there. Don't forget to bring your nocs. LJ, May 30 2013.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
Monday, May 6, 2013
I'm back after a month abroad with family - England, France, Denmark and Sweden were the destinations (Sweden, you moved me). It was an inspiring, enthralling, tiring, challenging, significant time. Much of the time was spent in cities, therefore this was not a wildlife-spotting extravaganza. Wildlife-spotting was incidental. It was all about the thrilling rush of culture, architecture, galleries, museums, cafes, restaurants, design shops, music stores, bridges, cathedrals, Viking rune stones and warm blueberry soup! When I had the chance, I wandered in woods in France and Sweden (between bursts of crossing frozen lakes and swamps!). Dense and open woods of birch, spruce, pine etc. Woods with very few birds in them and little variety re. species, frustratingly. How I longed to see a Black Woodpecker. At times, I felt all I was watching were Blue Tits, Great Tits and Wood Pigeons. A hare, grey and red squirrels, four roe deer and some sort of microbat in Copenhagen were the only native animals I came across in four weeks. This reinforced how fortunate I am to live in a fauna-rich area - I was profoundly struck by this towards the end of my trip. So, it's grand to be home. LJ, May 6 2013.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
At least 110 Little Ravens were floating over wooded corridors skirting paddocks by Old Argyle Rd late this afternoon. Three Wedge-tailed Eagles spooked them. The odd Australian Raven was in the mix. Top stuff. LJ, March 24 2013
Sunday, March 17, 2013
I didn't expect to come across a Great Crested Grebe in Bundanoon. I've only seen them on expansive bodies of water in the Highlands: Wingecarribee and Fitzroy Falls Reservoirs. Anyhow, one turned up late yesterday on a small dam off Blue Gum Rd. It was in non-breeding plumage, its long brown/white neck and dagger-like beak distinctive. That's the 3rd grebe species for town and bird 151. Nice one. LJ, 17 March 2013.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Last Saturday, in gorgeous weather, a couple of hours of local birding produced an impressive 58 species (particularly as most of our migrants have now headed north once again). Chestnut-rumped Heathwren (fleeing from the side of the road as I drove to Bonnie View), White-throated Needletail, Rose Robin (the first for autumn; offering up its ascending trill), Brown Cuckoo-dove and Crescent Honeyeater were the highlights. LJ, March 13 2013.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, hunting begins in 77 NSW national parks on April 30th. Shame, Barry, shame. Tell me, Barry, what protection will you give me, my family and so many others when we're in Morton National Park, a spot that has now been given a 'C' rating, which means hunters will be unsupervised when out? When will I know that it's safe to go into Morton National Park? Will it ever be safe? Do hunters have 24/7 access seven days a week? Why should police have to be involved in breaking up disputes between hunters and protestors? Do you think it's right that children as young as twelve should be hunting with bows and arrows? Is any type of hunting dog allowed to be in a national park now? Is there a quota on what the hunters can take away with them? Who's going to be the voice for the native animals that get purposely targeted? Why do I know so little, Barry? From what I gather, the NPWS already have sharp shooters who kill ferals from helicopters. And they're good at what they do. Nathan Rees has said this government is being led around by the nose courtesy of the Shooters and Fishers lobby. Luke Foley has stated, 'opening up our national parks to amateur hunters is very bad policy'. I couldn't agree more with both of them. Will it take a human death, or two, to make the NSW Liberal government rethink what they've done? I bloody well hope not. Shame, Barry, Shame. LJ, February 25 2013.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Man, this rain is relentless! I haven't seen this sort of rain in ages. Everything becomes a blur, or static, with it. I was just frantically digging a trench to stop my garage flooding. When the downpours cease, I'll tramp down to Erith Coal Mine and take in the volume of water cascading over the sandstone - it should be impressive. I hope the Yellow-throated Scrubwrens and Rockwarblers down there are keeping dry. LJ, February 23 2013.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I was really fortunate to see a Grey Goshawk make an unsuccessful swoop at a rabbit over at Peter Lach-Newinsky's property this morning. A Deadly 60 moment! Yesterday, there were both normal and white morph GGs at home. Always an honour! LJ, February 17 2013.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Blogging, education, conservation, birding and the sacredness of Morton National Park were all part of an interview I had with ABC Open journalist Sean O'Brien last Saturday at Bonnie View. Sean contact me at the end of 2012. My interview will be on ABC Open Illawarra and, hopefully, Radio National, in the near future. Watch this space. LJ, February 13 2013.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Great Egret, Nankeen Night Heron, Painted Button-quail, Glossy Black-Cockatoo and Horsfield's Bushlark, found in Bundanoon over January and early February, have raised the number of birds I've spotted in town to 150. I'm stoked. Basing this on numbers of birds regularly seen in Australia (799), according to a Birdlife rep, my hometown has 18% of Australia's birds. Not bad for about eight square kilometres! This is to be celebrated. LJ, February 7 2013.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Friday, January 11, 2013
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
So, thankfully, nothing became volatile in Bundanoon. It seems state-wide there were no deaths. There wasn't a lot of property damage either. Early yesterday evening, I spoke to a neighbour who has been here his whole life. He said he wasn't worried by the 'catastrophic' level. The time a fire really came close to town was in '65. Flames got to between the bottom of Constitution Hill and Morton National Park. Apparently, Wingello was wiped out then. LJ, January 9 2013.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
So far, no fires in Bundanoon. The wind is still mad, gutsy, unpredictable. We're still baking. The Wingecaribee is still declared a 'catastrophic' zone by the RFS. There was a small fire in Exeter earlier, which came under control easily. I think local crews are fighting a blaze near Sylvan Glen at Wingello right now. Four fire engines zipped past mid-afternoon. Waiting for the southerly change to show itself... Let's see what night brings... LJ, 5:30pm.
The RFS sent me 3 text messages and a home phone message last night reminding me of possible 'catastrophic' conditions today (as the fire boards at Exeter and Bundanoon point out). The message contained the advice, 'not being in a bush fire prone area is the safest option'. This was not an evacuation order. I applaud the RFS for their thoroughness... It's bloody hot now and there are forceful westerly winds (12:30pm)... So many fires are burning in NSW currently. My thoughts are with those affected and the firefighters looking out for them. LJ, January 8 2013.
Monday, January 7, 2013
An adult white morph Grey Goshawk was patrolling high above paddocks by Penrose Rd this morning at 10:15am. 3 Little Ravens were hassling it briefly, then they settled in the canopy of a coppice of gums bordering the paddocks. The GG dived at the Little Ravens, but didn't pursue them to kill (I doubt they'd eat birds of this size). The GG also pursued a Pied Currawong. The pursued were petrified - they scattered. Following this, the GG perched in an exposed section of a tree and surveyed its domain in peace. After a few minutes it took to the air, spiraling upwards until it became this shining, angelic thing (backlit by strong sunlight) and took away to the north. I've never seen threatening behavior from a GG before. What a privilege. LJ, January 7 2013.
There are more than 90 bush fires in NSW right now, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report from this afternoon. Tomorrow, a mass of hot air from inland Australia is going to arrive and RFS teams are expecting awful fire conditions across the state. May they be looked after. Let's hope the bush near Bundanoon behaves itself. Good on the NPWS guys for doing the recent controlled burn in Morton NP. We all should be thinking seriously about fire plans right now. I've got mine worked out. LJ, 7 January 2012.