Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Returning from Stingray Swamp Flora Reserve (which backs onto Penrose State Forest and is a good 30 minute walk from the junction of Old Argle and Ferndale Roads in Bundanoon) the other day, the crunching and snapping of distant trees caught my ear. I padded slowly through rugged open eucalyptus woodland to a patch of casuarinas to see what the source of the racket was. I thought I was hearing feeding Glossy Black-cockatoos. How right I was! A male and two females were gnawing dead and live timber and snapping she-oak seedpods. I was thrilled to see them. I'd forgotten how staggeringly arresting the red in their tails is when the birds are in flight. It was terrific to see the females allopreening (underwings, tails, sides etc.) and the male clamber over one of the feeding females when on his way to seize more seedpods. Now and then they emitted their Red-tailed Black-cockatoo-like wails. I have seen GBCs on very few occasions in my life. I was blessed to have thirty-five captivating minutes with this trio. They were not concerned by my presence. According to the NSW Government's E&H division, GBCs are listed as Vulnerable, meaning that they may become extinct in this state in the medium-term future if we don't preserve the precious woodlands they require. We have to stick up for these quirky, charming characters of the Aussie bush. LJ, September 2 2015.
Monday, July 20, 2015
A considerable amount of snow dropped on many Southern Highlands towns last Friday, but not in Bundanoon, much to my dismay. Driving to work before 7am, I heard a traffic report on ABC 702 advising motorists that the Hume Highway had been shut in both directions near Berrima due masses of snow and ice. Consequently, I travelled through Sutton Forest, Moss Vale, Bowral and Mittagong to get to the Hume. It felt like being in Europe. Absolutely gorgeous stuff. A snowman was on a roundabout in Bong Bong St Bowral. I took footage here and there on my iPhone. I'd not seen a dump like this before in the Southern Highlands. Family at High Range woke to 7 inches of the stuff. As I'm not a winter sports enthusiast, that was only the second time I've seen snow in Australia. LJ, July 20 2015.
My sincere thanks to those who turned up, in bleak, bleak weather, for Winterfest's birding event. Some even drove from Wollongong! It was great to meet many new faces and have a couple of very enthusiastic younger birders on board. I was impressed with the fieldwork of a few people -they found things way before I did. Well done. A lone, quite approachable Bassian Thrush at the entrances to Erith Coal Mine was the day's highlight. We were able to watch it for about 15 minutes. I'd really like to have another birding for beginners bash in summer, when all our migrants have returned. Stay tuned. LJ, July 20 2015.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
I didn't expect to see an Arctic Tern at Austinmer Beach (north of Wollongong) last Sunday. Conditions were warm and still. I watched the bird for about five minutes, recording notes of its appearance into my iPhone as I did. After consulting every field guide I own, I decided the bird was an immature Arctic. One has to be very careful when identifying terns as they have similarities. Common, White-fronted and Little Tern, which are similar in their various forms, had to be ruled out. The Arctic I saw had a clear white rump and tail, black edges to the forked tail, a cap that started above the eye and stretched behind the eye, white lores, smokey black-grey on the shoulders and black wingtips. It also plunged into the water after food (not all terns do this). After consulting with Alan Morris, a man who keeps NSW bird records, I found Arctic Terns are only spotted about three times a year along the NSW coast. So, a real rarity. And a tick. My Aussie bird tally now stands at 536 species. LJ, June 18 2015.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
Peaceful Dove (I was a little surprised to see this on two occasions - hopefully not an aviary escapee), Yellow Thornbill (I can't believe it took me years to come across this species in town considering they're so bloody common in NSW), Pacific Swift (with White-throated Needletails; the only time I've spotted one in NSW) and Feral Pigeon (the only other place in The Southern Highlands I've seen them is at Moss Vale) now bring the bird tally to 179. LJ, June 7 2015.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
I'm leading Winterfest's Birding for Beginners bash again. Sunday June 28. Meet 8:30 at Ferndale Reserve. It's a free thing, but bookings are to be made with fellow birder John Shepherd on 4883 7301. We'll be checking out Bundanoon's Sewage Treatment Plant (seriously, who'd want to miss that?!), Ferndale's swamp, paddocks near Morton National Park and mighty Morton National Park itself. I'll be teaching people how to identify birds by look and call (the latter is vital), how best to use binoculars, where exactly to find particular species, which Australian field guides are best and other odds and ends. I'm bringing almost 30 years of birding experience with me. We should see a few cool species including Scarlet Robin, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Bassian Thrush and Red-browed Treecreeper. Superb Lyrebirds will be calling madly! I hope you can make it. We'll finish up about midday. Dress for cold weather - it's been hovering around zero most mornings of late. LJ, early June 2015.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
When at boot camp with Bundanoon's Sharp Fitness early this morning, I almost annihilated a Common Jezabel. It was sitting on the concrete path by Bundanoon Oval. I carefully picked it up and placed it on a patch of grass so my fellow boot campers and I wouldn't kill it while jogging. Common Jezabels are eye-catching things. Not sure how common they are. I'd not seen one before in Bundanoon. LJ, Anzac Day 2015.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
It's been a while between entries. Apologies. Although I've been out in the field sporadically since my last post, there haven't been a hell of a lot of noteworthy sightings. Just before the endless storms that have wreaked havoc along the eastern seaboard over the last few days (my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones or lost their homes), I was fortunate to come across a family of Euros or Eastern Wallaroos near Santi Forest Monastery in Bundy. At first glance I thought I had Eastern Grey Kangaroos with a Swamp Wallaby. On closer inspection I realised I was seeing a male Euro with 2 females and a joey. The male was stocky/bulky, with coarse deep brown-grey fur. The slight white cheek streaks were another distinguishing feature. Though widespread in NSW, I've not seen Common Wallaroos in The Southern Highlands before. I was buzzing for a few hours after seeing them. LJ, April 23 2015.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Last Wednesday morning, in flawless weather, I drove for about 1hr and 40 mins to Lake Wollumboula on the south coast, so as to tick the White-rumped Sandpiper that turned up in early January, a little further north. It was discovered by Nigel Jackett. A most amazing find. Big ups to him for unearthing the little bird, a wader hard to distinguish from other brown/grey little waders. The WRS should've been in North or South America, not on the east coast of Australia. This is only the 6th or 7th time one has been seen in this country. After a bit of time (when a westerly was battering the dunes and lake), the WRS was pointed out to me by another birder who'd visited from Dubbo (thanks, mate). I was stoked to see the WRS, even though it was drab, unassuming. The bird fed frantically among Red-necked Stints and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, probing all of its bill into the lake shore as if a dowitcher. Great and Red Knots, Lesser Sand Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits and a Broad-billed Sandpiper were the other migratory waders present. I was glad to pick out a single Fairy Tern roosting with a mass of Little Terns (the latter are gorgeous things, almost angel-like). So, three ticks for me - the WRS, a Broad-billed Sandpiper and a Fairy Tern. It's been a while since I've ticked 3 new birds in one day. My Australian bird list now stands at 535 species. LJ, January 19, 2015.