Fivebough story

To: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>, <>
Subject: Fivebough story
From: "Sandra Henderson" <>
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2006 15:18:23 +1000
As a 'native' of Leeton, I still look occasionally at the local newspaper - The Irrigator.  One of the headlines recently was 'Council says no need for water restrictions' - and I can't recall there ever being restrictions - so you're right - they are unknown.  Oddly,  in past 2 weeks there have also been stories about a community prayer for rain, and the effect of the drought on local businesses.  Once outside the actual irrigation area it's very dry, as it is elsewhere, so while some parts look very well watered, once you're  away from the areas watered by the channel systems the drought is very evident

Sandra Henderson


From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Wednesday, 25 October 2006 2:29 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Fivebough story

Recent references to ‘Fivebough’ might cause some subscribers to wonder just what it is.  I’m not an expert on it, but I have visited it a few times over the last 4 years.  It is a reedy depression on the outskirts of Leeton, about 2km across.  On the southern end it is adjoined by the suburbs of Leeton, on the northern by agricultural land.  It is a mixture of so-called ‘permanent wetland’ and ‘ephemeral wetland’.


One of the things that strikes the Canberra visitor to Griffith and Leeton is the apparently limitless amount of water that is gushing along open channels and spilling over onto, among other things, lawns, backyards and open and evidently non-productive spaces.  Clearly, water restrictions are unknown.  The advantage of this for Fivebough is that at this time when most ephemeral and even non-ephemeral wetlands are bone-dry there is lots of water pouring into Fivebough, filling even spaces that I have found to be dry at less droughty times than this.  This is of great benefit to the waterbirds that are crowding in.


When you get there, you have two ways to look at the birds, and of course you can try both.  You can take up at a vantage point at one of the places where you can get a panoramic view, for example at the northern lookout, where you will see this:



 Actually, that makes it look a bit distant, and with binoculars you might see something more like this.  Anyway, an impressive panorama of waterbirdlife.



The other thing you can do is walk along the constructed dry pathways.  As the Typha lining the paths is over head height, you will only see things zipping in and out if you are quick (including snakes), until you come to a spot where there is an open view, where you will be closer to stuff than from a lookout, but you might find the shyer things vacating your proximity fairly quickly.  However this is your best chance of getting close views of waders and crakes, particularly if you station yourself noiselessly at one of those spots.


Anyway, back to my story.  Last Saturday morning I was using method 2, and finding stuff zipping off out of the corner of my eye while I was concentrating somewhat  on the presence or absence of reptiles of the legless variety.  On two occasions as I came in view of a new section of track a raptor exploded away from the vegetation edge across the typha-tops.  On one occasion it was a Brown Goshawk carrying what appeared to be a small rat.  On the second occasion I could not identify the bird but I think it was probably a harrier.  Where it had been crouching was a recently deceased Baillons Crake, looking something like this:





Surprisingly, although recently killed and uneaten, it was slightly stiff as if it had been lying  in the sun for an about an hour, so maybe the raptor had been sitting there feeling good about itself and building up an appetite.


This then is why those little crakes are often a bit on the wary side.  This story should also give heart to anyone a discouraged by their early attempts at bird photography with their new digital camera.  Just around the corner there will be something that won’t fly away if you take a bit of time getting the focus right. 



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