Kurrajong Hills (nw of Sydney) autumn sightings

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Subject: Kurrajong Hills (nw of Sydney) autumn sightings
From: "Eric Finley" <>
Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 14:57:03 +1000
Hi all
Staying most of the last 2 weeks in Kurrajong gave me a good look at the
autumn bird activity/movements, which this year seems high, with larger
than usual numbers of several species including Pied Currawong,
Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeater, White-headed Pigeon, King
Parrot and Gang Gang Cockatoo.
Much to the frustration of the resident Bell Miners, large groups of
Pied Currawongs have been passing through daily, each individual
attracting the alarm calls and mobbing of upwards of 4-6 Bell Miners.
Many of the currawongs are flying in high from the hills above, then
dropping into the crowns of eucalypts as they reach our gully - then
coming under immediate miner attack!
Yellow-faced Honeyeaters are passing through in a near constant stream
of groups, most of them only 6-12 birds, often with 3 or 4 White-napeds
in addition. Stops within Bell Miner territory also attract quick
attack, so almost none of these birds stop for more than a few seconds
despite their canopy level flyovers.
The small-leaved privets are unfortunately in fruit along many
roadsides, including Bells Line of Road, where I had 2 separate
sightings of White-headed Pigeons last Saturday, with another passing
through our garden on 28 Apr.
King Parrots are in their highest numbers in several years, with birds
present usually in groups of 4-10 in our garden and adjoining dry
rainforest pretty much all day every day, feeding on acacia and Red Ash.
There are still a few Musk Lorikeets (last seen 8 May) and plenty of
Rainbows. However the highlight of the season has been the unusual
number of Gang Gang Cockatoos. I have never understood why we get so few
sightings of this species in our part of the hills, at least passing
over, given they are frequently recorded a little higher at Kurrajong
Heights and perhaps less so below us in some areas around Kurmond and
Richmond, but these are the first records in our area in several years.
Sightings started in early April and the birds were still present two
days back. Max numbers in late April were around 20 birds.
Bell Miner cooperative nesting continues, although the number of active
nests seems to be very low now with only 1-2 in and around our property
where there are often 6+ nests in various stages. Casual observation
indicates this means more adults available to assist in the rearing of
young - there is one nest low in a leptospermum beside the house which
seems to have at least 4-5 adults bringing in food for the 2 nestlings
which look to be about 2 or 2.5 weeks old. This extends to nest
protection - I got too close when first locating the nest and was mobbed
by 6+ adults.
The local pair of Grey Goshawks are showing well at the moment and
visiting daily, as are the local Wedge-tailed Eagles. Brown Goshawks
have been infrequent.
Common Bronzewings have finished nesting but are present in good numbers
up to 24 birds. Wonga Pigeons have moved out of the garden and back into
the rainforest where they are calling but not showing well.
Bar-shouldered Doves are also heard but not seen at present.
Cuckoos have gone very quiet but a Fan-tailed was briefly in the garden
on 8/5.
Our resident Eastern Whipbirds seem to be beocming more and more tame,
spending much of the day on the lawn, adjoining garden beds and even the
verandah, behaving more like Blackbirds than whipbirds.
Bassian Thrush and Yellow-throated Scrubwren have been seen feeding on
our road but are not visiting the garden at the moment.
Also had 4 Double-barred Finches on nearby Mill Road on 8/5. This is my
first local record of this personal favourite although they are
frequently seen lower down towards Richmond and Wilberforce.
I am still struggling to locate the source of the mysterious 'telephone
bird' which I posted here on 13 April. This strong usually double-note
ringing call is still being heard daily, especially early in the
morning, coming from a nearby creekside area on private property - so I
cant get closer - which is a mix of remnant dry rainforest bordering
cleared grazing land.  I'm not very familiar with the call of the Grey
Currawong which I've seen here once previously, but this is my latest
suspected source. However if it is this bird it seems surprising it
hasn't shown as yet.
Best sighting of the last 2 weeks was air-borne but not of the normal
feathered variety. I was out in the garden investigating a possible owl
call when a small white UFO flashed above my head into an acacia. The
spotlight revealed a tiny FEATHER-TAILED GLIDER perched a few metres
above the ground, its white underparts, grey uppers and fine tail all
visible. I have never seen this species in the wild before and it was a
real thrill. I was lucky enough to see it again the following night in
Grey Gums by our front gate after I heard a very muted almost dog-like
sound in the trees here. I wonder how widespread this species is around
Sydney - seems its quite difficult to pick up by traditional
spotlighting methods so this combined with its size and habits must keep
it pretty well hidden even in places where it does hold on.

Visited Bushells Lagoon on 9/5 but things there were relatively quiet. 8
Whistling Kites performing group aerial acrobatics was the highlight.
Good numbers of Pelicans, and Little Black Cormorants feeding in
numbers, but very few ducks - just a handful of Maned and a few teal. An
Azure Kingfisher and 2 Black-fronted Dotterels were also seen.

Eric Finley

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