Our Blitz report

To: <>
Subject: Our Blitz report
From: "Alastair Smith" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 07:23:29 +1100

Thanks to Geoff Dabb for pointing out that I meant the Brush Cuckoo was morphologically similar to a Fan-tailed Cuckoo  in paragraph three




From: Alastair Smith [
Sent: Monday, 31 October 2005 8:14 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Our Blitz report


Michael Wright and I left Canberra at 0500 on Saturday morning for a date with H23 (Nursery Swamp) and G25 (Yankee Hat). On arriving at the Orroral Valley carpark we were serenaded by a Tawny Frogmouth and we began our walk-in with White-eared and Yellow-Faced Honeyeaters and Rufous Whistlers the predominant species. A small patch of wetter woodland provided views of at least three Satin Flycatchers and on the return the only Bowerbird of the day. To negotiate the track into the Nursery Swamp we had to move through three other adjoining grid squares and in G23 we were thrilled to see three, possibly four, spotted quail thrush and then, for us the bird of the blitz, a female turquoise parrot. The bird stayed around long enough for Michael to think he could get closer for the obligatory photograph (demanded by Barbara) before it flew to the ground and was not seen again.


Further down the track we had great views of two perched Wedge-tail Eagles. By contrast, Nursery Swamp was relatively quite, except for the most visual and noisy birds of the day, Little Ravens. Certainly no sign of the anticipated Lewin's Rail.


Back to the car after a three and a half hour walk we left Orroral valley and headed south along Boboyan Road enroute to Yankee Hat. We stopped twice on the way and at the second site (H24) we were rewarded with two calling Brush Cuckoos. In the gloomy conditions it was difficult to catalogue (and indeed photograph) the morphological differences between this species and the more common Pallid Cuckoo, though the difference in song was very apparent.


From there we approached Yankee Hat and saw our only pigeons and ducks of the day when two common bronze wings and two Pacific Black Ducks broke cover. Being the middle of the day the birds were more difficult to come by and surprisingly we picked up our only Silvereyes of the day. This was the square for raptors when we picked up Swamp Harrier, Brown Falcon, Collared Sparrowhawk, Nankeen Kestrel and an immature Wedge-tailed Eagle feeding on a kangaroo carcass. We also saw our one and only snake of the blitz weekend when Michael pointed out a highland copperhead.


On returning leg-weary to the carpark we saw the incongruous sight of a white wild dog that quickly beat a retreat on seeing us. Back at the carpark we heard a Brown Treecreeper, chased up the song and saw two. We had just hopped in the car when three Diamond Firetails were seen over a nearby fence.


The following morning, despite constant rain and still foot-sore from the day before, we were away at 0600 and onto L18, the northern flank of Mt Rob Roy. Soon after getting out of the car on the Monaro Highway we heard and observed both a Pallid Cuckoo and Rufous Fantail. The weather improved as time went by and we saw three Satin Flycatchers. We finished the walk by observing a Pied Currawong flush a Tawny Frogmouth which then alighted in a tree and watched us through large yellow-orange eyes.


To follow up some the comments by Geoffrey Dabb, in addition to the Diamond Firetails we also saw Red-browed and European Goldfinches. While Golden Whistlers must have been serenading only David McDonald, as we saw only Rufous and disappointingly no Olive Whistlers.


I would join in the others in congratulating Barbara and her team on not only their organisation of this event but also for encouraging me, for the first time, to visit and bird in the beautiful southerly part of the ACT. On behalf of Michael and myself, I will be submitting records for 9 grid squares with 87 species recorded (81 birds, 5 mammals and the one snake). I would sum up by saying that this weekend past was my most enjoyable experience of birding in Canberra.



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