Alan and I spent the weekend in the Maryborough
district (about 130 km NW of Melbourne, Victoria)
taking part in the latest Swift Parrot survey. While
doing so we kept an eye out for David Geering's
warty-faced friends (Regent Honeyeaters) but sadly
none of those mysterious and unsociable beasties put
in an appearance for us.
It was a different story with the Swifties, however.
We commenced our survey en route at two random sites
near Talbot. To our delight SP's were at both sites -
a very good start to our surveying!
>From there we detoured to the Maryborough Police
station in the centre of town to talk to the local
rozzers about recovering some stolen goods. Even as we
stood in the Station foyer we heard the dulcet tones
of a SP passing nearby!
Arriving at our property near the Southern end of the
Paddys Ranges Park it was rapidly apparent that our
SP's, seen there most visits since March, were
certainly still present. With the bright sun often
behind them and a strong wind blowing it was easy
enough to hear, but not necessarily see them. However
I was still hearing them until 5.40 pm at least, when
it was quite dim - I guess this means that they
probably roosted nearby.
The Swifties made up for this brief fling with
Regent-like stand offishness the next morning when we
arose to find them darting about all over the block,
often at close range and low height. The Golden
Wattles were their breakfast choice, with most in
heavy bud and a just a few flowers out, the SP's were
busy eating both the buds and the blossoms. We only
counted what we could see in our field of view all at
once, well aware even so that many others were hidden
in the shrub canopy further back (we could hear them
calling and catch the occasional glimpse).
They were very vocal as they fed, in fact at one stage
while taking a brief sojourn to our 'thunderbox' (i.e.
loo!) I was serenaded at such close quarters by one
Swiftie that it sounded like one of Chris Tzaros's
demonstration recordings on full volume. What an
opportunity lost for a budding sound recordist, though
probably just as well considering what sounds may have
appeared as background noise!
As the day wore on the SP's quietened and though some
were certainly still present there were probably less
about. By mid afternoon the sky had glazed over with
light cloud and the wind was quite cold. We headed
home, sampling three more sites at random, two near
Amherst and one near Clunes (Fells Gully), but no SP's
were found. Overall birds were down in type and
numbers wherever we went, and often quiet as well. It
can't be often that you can claim SP's as one of the
most common and vocal species seen, but the continuing
drought is really affecting most of the birds up
Other trip highlights were a party of Flame Robins and
a pair of Hooded Robins near the Southern end of the
Paddys and a flock of 8 or so Yellow-tailed
Black-cockatoos over suburban North Ballarat. Another
minor highlight was getting home in one piece despite
a car headlight failure on a stretch of the Ballarat
Freeway with no road side service stations for miles!
I hope all the survey participants had as much fun as
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