Bird ID -- Mannikin?

Subject: Bird ID -- Mannikin?
From: Gordon and Pam Cain <>
Date: Sat, 30 May 2009 18:23:47 +1000
This afternoon in Schofields, NW Sydney (Between Blacktown and Windsor), I was walking with an umbrella in my hand, and a little girl on my back, so I was without the binoculars when I saw something I've never seen here before.

It was a wet, grey day, and in grass less than a metre high, near a small dam, and perhaps 100M from forested bushland, I saw a flock of small dark birds (dark brown or black, possibly with a bit of red on the sides below the wings). When they were 'doing their thing' they were either hopping about on the ground or perched on stalks of grass. But when there was even a single call from any other bird (eg, noisy miners) they all fled quickly and directly to trees, or more often to blackberry thickets and other dense bush. And then within 10 seconds or so, they would relax and fly back to where they had been, sometimes with even more members joining them. They were very 'flighty', but never scared off for long.

None came any closer to me and my daughter than perhaps 15M. There were a good 100 or more in the flock.

When I passed by an hour later, I saw only a much smaller number of them in the same immediate area. But light was poor and I couldn't search the area any more. I heard an unidentified bird call at this time (couldn't see the source). It was not a bad match to the nutmeg mannikin call I looked up.

I'm guessing they were nutmeg mannikins.

Does this sound right to those who know more than I do, which isn't a lot?

Cheers and thanks in advance

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