I spent 10 days over the New Year period in the Armidale area and
thought some of the observations might be of interest to birding-aus.
It was a family
holiday with two smallish children, which largely limited the birding to
a few old favourite spots. As a hobby birdo, with little scientific
background, I am never confident which observations are most
significant, but suspect that the presence of Plum-headed Finch(es) in
Road Stock-reserve may well be worth noting. For me personally the
Australasian Bittern at Llangollin was also a new bird and highly
satisfying, if only seen briefly.
Dangars Lagoon, Uralla 29/12/99
Very large numbers of ducks for a relatively small lagoon. (Presumably
highly eutropic!) An estimated 30 pairs of Blue-billed Duck, 24
Pink-eared Duck and six Great-Crested Grebes. Several hundred each of
Hardhead, Shoveller, Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebe and perhaps 20
Musk Duck. Unusually, the Whiskered Terns were entirely absent.
Racecourse Lagoon, Uralla 30/12/99
Many breeding Australasian Grebe and good numbers of all the same duck
species as at Dangars, except no Great-crested Grebes or Musk Duck.
This lagoon is much shallower (accounting perhaps for these absentees),
but the terns commonly breed here, and to our surprise there were none
present at all.
Mother of Ducks Lagoon, Guyra 4/1/00
The grass has grown very tall over much of the lagoon, making it fine
for the birds but difficult for birdos. But the Terns were here in
large numbers, and their behaviour suggested there were still nests in
the grass. We flushed few Snipe (perhaps 10 in all) from the margins of
the lagoon, but there were probably many more concealed in the tall
grass. Little exposed mud, and no smaller waders. A Buff-banded Rail
was haunting the ponds of the Golf-course next to the lagoon.
Plenty of Ducks present, but the most interesting observation was of two
Glossy Ibis, well over towards the Western side, but clearly identified
with the telescope. (Last year there were six there, so I suppose you
could say they are regular.)
Little Llangollin Reserve, Guyra 4/1/00 and 5/1/00
Huge numbers of Ducks and Grebes towards sunset, with Shoveller in the
majority, but 12 Pink-eared, and c. 20 pairs of Blue-billed. Also three
Great-Crested Grebes. It is hard to estimate full numbers as you can
only see a small part of the lagoon at once, and a plan to walk round it
was frustrated by the man-high, seeding grass. (Very difficult when your
spouse is asthmatic!)
Also seen there:
Australasian Bittern (a lucky sighting on 5/1, flushed from the edge of
a paddock just outside the reserve; it headed for the reeds)
White-necked Heron (Several)
Intermediate Egret (likewise several)
Bungarra Road Stock-reserve, Armidale 6/1/00
Open dry woodland, just over the Divide, clearly not been used for stock
Plum-headed Finch (I twice saw a male from close range, the first time
for several minutes while it sat in a tree, preened and observed me.
They could have been the same bird. Did not spot female. Its call as
it flew was very like a House-sparrow's.)
Rufous Song-larks were abundant, but the Speckled Warblers I usually see
there were notably absent.
Also a possible Square-tailed Kite, but it did not allow me good enough
views for a definite identification.
I hope this is of some interest.
Associate Professor John M. Clifton-Everest
Department of Germanic Studies
University of Sydney
(61) (2) 9351 2262
Fax (61) (2) 9351 5318
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