Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Thursday, December 18, 2014
I didn't expect to see a Blue Mountains Tree Frog by the side of the road leading to Bonnie View the night before last. Truthfully, I didn't know what species of tree frog I had before me, when I picked it up and had it sitting in the palm of my right hand. The amphibian was quite content there and sat up more purposefully when I shone my torch on it. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a BMTF before. LJ, December 18 2014.
Friday, December 5, 2014
Opposite my home the other day, a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, minding its own business while munching on pine cones, was swooped by a Red Wattlebird. The RW struck the YTBC hard - the YTBC screamed, panicked and fell from its perch. It then laboured away, not to be seen again. I've never seen an RW be so aggressive towards a bird larger than it. I'm not surprised by this - that particular RW lives next door and is fiercely territorial. You gotta admire its chutzpah and fortitude! LJ, December 5 2014.
Some weeks ago, along Old Argyle Road's more rugged section, I had the good fortune of watching (for 15 mins) a male Satin Bowerbird at his bower, hoping to attract a mate. The bird was moving the odd decorative leaf from here to there, buzzing and whistling all the while. I'm not sure how much thinking was involved with this decorating; his rearrangements seemed arbitrary. Females visited the area, but did not come close to him or the bower (poor bugger). The best view of an SB at his love-nest I've ever had. LJ, December 5 2014.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Last Sunday, out at Nattai National Park, High Range (western Southern Highlands), someone came across a pair of Turquoise Parrots. This is an outstanding record. I'm not aware of any Turquoise Parrot records in the Highlands. Happy days. I'll have to get out there and chase them. I've only turned up one Turquoise Parrot since I began birding. It was in northern Sydney. LJ, 21 October 2014.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Awesome to get permission to wander around private property by Shangri La Rd yesterday. My thanks to landowners. Got into some terrific boggy heath country near main dam which has potential for Southern Emu-wrens and King Quail. Flushed a Latham's Snipe (just returned from Japan) from dam fringes. Other birds of note: Hoary-headed Grebes, Hardhead, Golden-headed Cisticola, Little Grassbird, Australasian Reed-warbler and Richard's Pipits. LJ, OCtober 20 2014.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
4pm last Friday - in glorious, glorious weather - I came across two Red-bellied Black Snakes lying on top of one other behind Bundanoon's sewage treatment plant. Got within 15 feet of them. Perhaps they were mating. One sensed my presence, flicked its tongue, raised its sleek head, then nonchalantly slithered away; the other stayed motionless, so I prodded it gently with a dead branch to see if it was alive. It came to and headed off in an equally unconcerned manner. Here was a serpent encounter which again proved wild snakes don't want to chase you, attack you, bite you. I always figure our snakes are a lot more bloody fearful of us than we are of them. Photo of the snakes' habitat to come... LJ, October 13 2014.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Monday, October 6, 2014
Rufous Whistler, Sacred Kingfisher, White-throated Gerygone and Shining Bronze-cuckoo all back over last 10 days. Channel-billed Cuckoos are late compared with last year. No signs of Common Koel, Black-faced Monarch or Dollarbird. LJ, October 6 2014.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Thursday, September 18, 2014
2 Indian Mynahs were in Bundanoon's main drag yesterday. That's a first. Not happy, Jan. I hope they soon meet an unfortunate end. I could also say that for the European Starlings that seem to be growing in numbers here and there. If these birds make life more difficult for our natives, they should be eradicated. I guarantee these Indian Mynahs will compete for nest space and territory with the Welcome Swallows that nest above some of our shopfronts. LJ, September 18 2014.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Bullio lies at the western edge of the Southern Highlands. It's roughly 45 minutes away from Bundanoon by car and not far away from Wombeyan Caves. The country is drier than Bundanoon and characterised by steep, dramatic, rugged terrain. My mate Marty Filipczyk came across some terrific birds on a private property out there yesterday: Emu, Hooded Robin, Brown Treecreeper, Speckled Warbler and Jacky Winter. None of these have turned up for me in Bundanoon (emus probably won't). Hooded Robins are always a treat. LJ, September 9 2014.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
A Collared Sparrowhawk darting twice into a large, high-flying flock of European Starlings was an unexpected spectacle this morning over Shangri la Rd. Something I've never witnessed before. Nature doco stuff. The raptor was unsuccessful in its attempts to kill. It flew off to the forested hills looking over Paddys River. LJ, September 6 2014.
Rainbow Lorikeets are one of Australia's most iconic, raucous, anarchic and magnificent birds. Common in Sydney and on the coast, they are infrequently seen in the Southern Highlands. I'd see them, maybe, once a month in Bundanoon. Or less than that. There's always 2 or 3 birds, shooting east to west or west to east. This morning, 2 birds were sitting in my crab apple. Quite a surprise. They came down to me as I approached them, almost taking some fruit and nut from my hand. Spooked at the last minute, they dashed away. LJ, September 6 2014.
Monday, September 1, 2014
Here are some of the most stunning natural spots I've visited in Australia: Uluru (NT), The Olgas (NT), West MacDonnell Ranges (NT), Mica Creek (QLD), Bladensberg National Park (QLD), Kakadu National Park (NT), Holmes Jungle (NT), Border Ranges National Park (NSW), Normanby Island (QLD), Cape Tribulation (QLD), Mt Warning (NSW), Mt Lewis (QLD), Cradle Mountain (TAS), Freycinet National Park (TAS), Lake Gregory (WA), Mt Wilson (NSW), Nombinnie Nature Reserve (NSW), Jervis Bay (NSW), Booderee National Park (ACT), Monga National Park (NSW), Lake Hart (SA), Island Lagoon (SA), The Twelve Apostles (VIC), Mt Buffalo (VIC), Mt Kosciuszko (NSW), Painted Desert (SA), Sturt National Park (NSW), Cape Leeuwin (WA) and Margaret River (WA). LJ, the first day of spring, 2014.
Friday, August 29, 2014
I've just been in a forum chat with a woman who reckons she's unearthed a Citrine Wagtail at wetlands in Mudgee NSW. When she first put up photos of the bird, I was skeptical, believing the bird to be an Eastern Yellow Wagtail due to colour on the belly and flanks. Now, I'm doubting myself. Her photos and report are on eremaea, Australia's premier bird id database. It's generated a lot of discussion. Other birders are leaning towards Citrine. Experts - in due course - will decide whether the bird is definitely a Citrine. It'll be interesting to see what pans out. Citine Wagtails are incredibly rare vagrants to Australia. There have been only 3 authenticated records. I include a random Google image of a Citrine. LJ, August 29 2014.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
I came upon this quote from US psychologist Eric Berne the other day - 'The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing'. Interesting, but in my opinion, utter rubbish. The pursuit of identification does not extinguish noticing and celebrating the poetry within birds. LJ, 15 August 2014.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
This morning, near Morton, I watched a male Scarlet Robin fly into a paddock where there was another male Scarlet Robin. The second bird wasn't at all happy and chased the intruder out of his territory. The original bird darted back to the fence where he was perched initially and (seemingly indignant and embarrassed) turned his back to the agro defender. I had a chuckle. SR behaviour I've not seen before. LJ,10 August 2014.
Friday, August 1, 2014
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I reckon a 12 hour summer twitch is in order, maybe late October or sometime in November when our migratory species are back. How many birds can be seen in Bundanoon in a 12 hour period? Close to 100? Anyone can get in on this. It'd be on a Saturday. Start at 8am and end at 8pm. Lunch in Morton NP. I'll get back to you with details... LJ, July 29 2014.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Late in the day yesterday, when heading home through Sutton Forest (about 10 mins from Bundanoon), I passed what was either a Black Falcon or dark morph Brown Falcon perched in a dead tree by Exeter Road. The light wasn't great - I did a u-turn, drove past it again, parked, got out and dashed back up the road to inspect it. Luckily my binoculars where on the backseat of my car. Uniformly dark brown feathers, a small head on massive shoulders, a slight pale cheek mark, grey about eye, long wings almost to the tip of tail meant Black Falcon. Whacko! I watched it watch me for 15 mins, then it took off over sheep paddocks in the direction of Werai. Black Falcons are my favourite Australian bird. Everything about them appeals to me, particularly their flight and classic silhouette featuring slightly bent wings. I've only seen this falcon 7 or 8 times before in my life (once before in the Southern Highlands - at Moss Vale). Let's hope this stunning raptor gets itself to Bundanoon. I need it for my list. LJ, 26 July 2014.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Minus 2 overnight. Big frost. It's now 10:30am - there's still ice on the grass in shadowy sections of the backyard. My dogs' water bowls had a film of ice. I remember speaking to a bloke from Wingello (a bit south) who recalls frosts that lasted until noon. I may have mentioned this before. LJ, July 13 2014.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Monday, June 30, 2014
Respect to the 17 - yes 17 - hardy souls who turned up for the birding bash on Sunday. I was impressed with the enthusiasm of all who attended. Considering the mad weather, we saw quite a few birds. 9 Australasian Shovelers (sewage works), a Bassian Thrush (Church St) and 35 European Goldfinches (pony club) were the highlights. I'll hope to do another of these in spring-summer. LJ, June 30 2014.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Dawn: relentless 40km/h winds from the west; 4 degrees; cloudlessness. Not the weather you hope for when leading a bird outing at 8:30am. At this rate, we'll be lucky to see a Brown Thornbill. They will all be blown to Braidwood! Perhaps the weather will give us a stray Grey Falcon. I live in eternal hope. LJ, June 29 2014.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Tim Low's new book makes an argument for Australia's birds being the noisiest, angriest, most dynamic birds in the world. He also says - controversially, in the eyes of ornithologists in the Northern Hemisphere - that birdsong originated in Australia 40 million years ago. Sounds fascinating. Richard Fidler has a terrific discussion with Tim over on the ABC's Conversations page. LJ, June 27 2014.
Man, I hope these winds calm down for Sunday's bird outing. There's a very determined westerly knocking at all my doors and windows right now. At least a Grey Goshawk was enjoying the conditions over Bundy's main drag 45 mins ago. The raptor was a fair way up. LJ, 26.4.14
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I failed to mention that I came across 22 Brown Cuckoo-doves feeding on grit along Gullies Rd back on Easter Sunday morning. When I softly imitated the bird's whooping call, some of the cuckoo-doves came within a few feet of me. A top encounter. I've never seen that many BCDs together. LJ, June 11 2014.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Some of the Aussie birds I'd most like to see: Night Parrot (naturally), Coxen's Fig-parrot, Princess Parrot, Hooded Parrot, Palm Cockatoo, Orange-bellied Parrot, Trumpet Manucode, Gouldian Finch, Black Grasswren, White-throated Grasswren, Eyrean Grasswren, Banded Fruit-dove, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, Magnificent Riflebird, Rufous Owl, Eastern Grass Owl, Masked Owl, Papuan Frogmouth, Southern Cassowary, Western Whipbird, Red-lored Whistler, Star Finch, Albert's Lyrebird. LJ, June 10 2014.
In mid-2001, when driving back from Uluru (what a mesmerising spot; I yearn for it on a weekly basis) not long after sunset, I was blessed to see a Marsupial Mole scamper across the road in front of me. It took me a few seconds to process what I'd seen. What a surprise. These moles are very rarely encountered in Central Australia; even their tracks are hardly ever found. I hold this up as one of the greatest animal spotting moments I've had in this country. A remarkable confluence of timing and circumstance. What will be my next Southern Marsupial Mole moment? LJ, 10 June 2014.
I've now decided to move beyond the realms of Bundanoon occasionally so as to write more broadly about various aspects of Australia's natural history. I hope, dear reader, you're cool with this. Bundanoon's wildlife will always anchor me though. Stay tuned. LJ, 10 June 2014.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
A red and white anti-hunting in national parks sign on Church St was recently annotated with a message saying it was good Barry O'Farrell had stepped down. I'm glad he's gone, but ask myself what this truly means for our national parks. What powers will the Shooters and Fishers lobby now crave? Will new NSW Premier Mike Baird support them? The proposal to allow hunting in Morton National Park may well raise its ugly head once more. LJ, May 6 2014.
When I'm wandering throughout Bundanoon's green and pleasant lands, I'm always meticulous when it comes to staying off private property. So, I was less than impressed when an old bloke on a bike cross-questioned me about my intentions when I was birding two weeks back. He told me I was on a private road (not so) and basically not welcome. I tried to stay as polite as possible. What really got to me is that he ignored me completely when I greeted him. What is that? Save the vitriol for the real trespassers, mister. I relate this story because I was shocked by the man's 'unBundanoon' attitude. This is such a warm, welcoming town. LJ, May 6 2014.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Please excuse the repetitious, geeky nature of these new bird updates. I'll mix up the nature of the WB posts a lot more very soon. Anyway, a weird call close to home at 5pm got me rushing outside to investigate. What was it? A Little Friarbird, possibly lost, as it's a western NSW bird really. Happy days. Bird 168. Little Friarbirds are rarely seen in the Greater Sydney area. I guess they're rare in the Illawarra/Southern Highlands too. LJ, April 10 2014.
I'll be leading a bird outing in Morton National Park next Monday morning from 8am. Meet at Gambells Rest at the end of Church St, Bundanoon. Bring binoculars, patience and a sense of humour. We'll be targeting the harder to see species - Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, Rockwarbler, Brown Gerygone, Beatiful Firetail etc. All welcome. If it is pissing down, it will be off. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries. LJ, April 10 2014.
Monday, April 7, 2014
2 Red-rumped Parrots were flying over the Flame Robin paddocks down Shangri la Rd mid-afternoon Sunday. Bird 167. I've been waiting for RRPs to show up. Not sure how numerous they are in the Southern Highlands - I've had them on the outskirts of Moss Vale. Other species of note down Shangri la were: 8 Buff-rumped Thornbills, Scarlet Robin (male), Rose Robin (male; returned), Black-fronted Dotterel, Little Black Cormorant, Yellow-faced Honeyeater (2 feeding on ground with party of Yellow-rumped Thornbills) and a White-throated Treecreeper foraging on a wall for two minutes (never seen this before). LJ, 7 April 2014.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Though I've heard Grey Currawongs calling three or four times before in Bundanoon, I've never laid eyes on one. They're scarce buggers, more easily seen south of Bundanoon in Penrose and Tallong, where the habitat is drier. I was blessed to get my nocs onto one down Old Argyle Road mid-afternoon - the bird's sharp, parrot-like chiming alerted me to its presence. Unfortunately, I only had a four second view of it, as the bird was dashing through the canopy. Grey Currawongs are such striking birds, even with their sooty plumage. They're often solitary, or in pairs or trios. They're a bird I'd love to know more about. LJ, April 5 2014.
Monday, March 31, 2014
A three minute walk from my home, there's this eye-catching land, on private property, bordering Morton National Park. I reckon it's suitable Masked Owl habitat. One of the least seen of NSW's nocturnal birds, the Masked Owl favours ecotone where dense forest, open grassland and waterways converge. I've never seen one; I've heard them call in northern Sydney and at Monga National Park near Braidwood. About two weeks ago, I'm 95% sure I heard one calling from this pictured area. I need to put in time searching for it... LJ, March 31 2014.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Friday, March 14, 2014
Whenever I set out into the field I do so with a spring in my step, my heart, my lungs. I'm ever-hopeful, driven, open to everything, focused. I always cross my fingers for the unexpected. Often, I'm handed predictability. Sometimes, the stars and ferns and rocks and waterfalls conspire/align and left-field things occur. Last Saturday, I had one unexpected thing after the other... Firstly, Brown Goshawks swooping at, and dashing after one another (something I've never seen before) by Shangri la Road's dam. Then, a pair of Diamond Firetails (one an immature) in Shangri la Road's paddocks. Nice one. Bird 165 for the list and something I thought would never turn up in Bundy. I was cheering, dancing, having not seen a Diamond Firetail in the wild for at least fifteen years. I'd say DFs are very rare in the Highlands. I know of no records for the district. DFs have been recorded at Marulan, which lies right on the Southern edge of the Highlands. A little later, 5 Varied Sittellas and a White-throated Treecreeper were scampering all over a telegraph pole on the cornner of Penrose Rd and Lucas St. Peculiar? I guess a telegraph pole is just another tree with food in their tiny minds. Afterwards, a male Superb Lyrebird was in an open area not far from Santi Forest Monastery (Buddhist) showing off his dazzling courtship routine (striking, shimmering tail feathers completely fanned out and projected over his entire body, then the odd bit of mimicry - e.g. a Crimson Rosella's flight call - and his unique stream of earth-music) to another male, for two minutes. Must have been some sort of tribute to Sydney's Mardi Gras! This is the first time - in some twenty-five years of birding - I've seen this spectacular event. Suffice to say, I was gobsmacked. Lastly, not long before dusk, a Grey Goshawk was powering over home (unmolested by other birds strangely enough). These are the moments I crave. These are the moments birders live for. LJ, March 14 2014.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Big thanks to Marty Filipczyk for alerting me to a lone White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike (robusta) at Bundanoon Cemetery yesterday, a species I've seen irregularly over the years. The WBCS was trying to be social with several Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes. One of the BFCSs had a go at the WBCS and kept it in its place. That's bird 164 for Bundanoon. LJ, Feb 19 2014.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Late last week, a 50cm long Copperhead, very attractive in its grey, bronze and pale yellow, turned up in my front yard. I guess it was a young specimen. I retrieved my spade and scooped it up. The snake was docile, not attempting to strike at the spade or anything else. I took it across the road and gently lowered it into dense vegetation at the edge of paddocks. It hasn't returned. LJ, 21 January 2014.
Monday, January 13, 2014
At last, another living snake in Bundanoon! I was beginning to think they'd all packed up and left town for good. A very healthy Red-bellied Black Snake, over four foot long I reckon, was at my platypus site mid-morning. I can't believe Bundy's snakes are so damn shy and elusive. Maybe, I'm just not stealthy enough. LJ, January 13 2014.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
I meant to post this earlier... A couple of weeks ago, when amongst Old Argyle Road's closed banksia forest (where termite mounds meet wombat holes) hoping to flush a Spotted Quail-thrush or Common Bronzewing, I lifted up a piece of fallen timber and discovered a Bibron's Toadlet, an amphibian I've never seen before. It reminded me of the Red-crowned Toadlet, which, in the late 90s, I used to find from time to time, after dark, near The Sphinx in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, northern Sydney. LJ, January 5 2014.
It was July 4, 2012 when I last spied a Platypus in Bundanoon. This morning, I was fortunate to see one again, at the same spot; probably the same animal. A ring of bubbles breaking on the creek's smooth surface alerted me to its presence. The monotreme floated for five seconds, then vanished. Still, I had a great view of it through my binoculars. I waited for twenty minutes for the critter to resurface, but alas, nothing but more water bubbles. I'd love to know where the Platypus' burrow is. While waiting for another glimpse of the Platypus, I saw two Dusky Antechinuses, nervously scampering about among rock slabs by the edge of the creek. This surprised me somewhat. LJ, 5 January 2014.
A quick scan of ducks drifting on the sewage works this morning produced two female Freckled Ducks (bird no. 162)! Their scaled plumage, distinctly-shaped heads and unique bills make FDs easy to identify. In Pizzey and Knight's latest field guide Freckled Ducks are described as nomadic, irruptive and rare. I've only seen Freckled Ducks on two or three occasions and never before in the Southern Highlands. I had a few out at the Lake Cargelligo Sewage Works when on the Twitchathon late last October. LJ, 5 January 2014.
Saturday, January 4, 2014
Yet again, Shangri la Rd comes up with the goods! This time, a pair of hunting Spotted Harriers, bringing my Bundanoon bird list to 162 species. The male was spectacular, particularly when it plunged into long grass in pursuit of something. Its presence had Common Starlings, Welcome Swallows and Tree Martins scattering. The female was circling low over closed forest canopy to the west, which is a little unusual for this species, as Spotted Harriers prefer to cruise low over more open country. I've only seen a Spotted Harrier once before in the Southern Highlands - late last October, between Penrose and Tallong, where rural land surrounds a massive dam. LJ, January 4 2014.