It has rained heavily here in Sydney this week and as I write on a Sunday
morning it would appear that we have one more week of it as well. We will be
growing fungus soon.
Nevertheless we did manage to get out on Friday afternoon and again for four
hours yesterday. Friday's end-of-week birding took us along the Hacking
River in the local Royal National Park and we both had fantastic views of
Sacred and Azure Kingfishers as well as a whole host of Golden Whistlers.
Though I think my favourite for the afternoon was a complex family of three
adults and seven chicks in one collection of Dusky Moorhen. I am aware of
some other species that have three adults in one brooding set. I wonder if
this was normal or a strange, almost accidental, association. The echidna by
the side of the road feeding on an ants' nest was well worth the afternoon
out too. What a magnificent animal it is!!!
Yesterday we braved the weather and drove up to the other side of the city,
to Windsor and Cattai National Park, the Mitchell Park section. Somehow we
managed to squeeze in four hours under cloudy skies and drizzle-mizzle and,
also visiting the local sewage farm on the way home, we managed 75 species
of birds. The sewage farm was a most truncated effort. By then it was
raining and we just wanted to see some old favourites, especially the small
flock of Hardheads and the Royal Spoonbill.
At Mitchell Park easily the highlight were two Black Bittern, seen flying
three times and heard on another occasion. The markings along the side of
the head were clearly visible and well worth the trip alone.
In addition, though, we saw or heard five species of cuckoo, missing out on
a Little Cuckoo that had been seen the one week before (and was the first
record for Sydney!! I hope you ended up finding it Edwin!) and Faye found us
all Tawny Frogmouth perched in the tree above our path. It pays to keep your
eyes on your feet. She checked out the large white wash below.
The eucalypts did not seem to be in copious blossom but we did see White
naped, Yellow tufted, Lewin's and Yellow faced honeyeaters. At the Sewage
farm there was also a White plumed. I have never seen them on sandstone
country in the Sydney region. Yet they are happy in the suburbs (when living
at Mortdale they were common) if on shale soils.
Sex scenes were plentiful too. Two Sacred kingfishers enjoying a brief tryst
on a branch of a casuarina tree. Hers was rather passive, I must say. He
flew off quickly too. And surely that must be bad form. While on another
branch, high up, a male Chestnut Teal boobed and bobbed to his female
companion and even approached her twice. When he nearly slipped of his perch
he began the whole bobbing routine once more. I would be most curious if
others have noticed aerial courship in Chestnut teals as well.
Pity about the rain. This part of Sydney is a long way from Engadine and if
I make the journey over to see its delights I would love to use the day
totally. Nevertheless it was a break from some of the rain.
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