Halycon Day at Holt

To: "Canberrabirds" <>
Subject: Halycon Day at Holt
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Mon, 6 Oct 2008 14:17:44 +1000
Early yesterday morning a Sacred Kingfisher landed on the Hills hoist and subsequently perched in trees and overhead cables so I had good views for ten minutes. Interestingly, another did exactly the same last January.
After lunch we went for a drive/birdwatch along Stockdill Drive, Holt and stopped at the farm dam near the entrance to the Pine Ridge property. Saw a couple of Little Pied Cormorants, a few Pacific Black Ducks and Wood Ducks. "Boring, boring," chirped impatient brat.  But the ennui was short lived. I saw a kingfisher perched on the fence nearby and, before I focused on it I felt it wasn't a Sacred Kingfisher – the jizz just didn't seem right. It was perched with its back towards us and  through the binos I could clearly see the brick-red of the lower back. As it turned its head from side to side I could see the streaked crown which gave its head that brushed-back hairstyle appearance, both darned good field marks
"That's a Red-necked Kingfisher," I said. "Red-backed Kingfisher!" pedantic brat shrilled, pouncing on my faux pas. The bird took wing and rose to a fair height before commencing a stepped descent towards the river. We drove to the end of Stockdill Drive hoping for another sighting, stopped and walked a short way along the fence above the river but saw nothing.We were, however, compensated when three Superb Parrots rose up from the valley and whizzed overhead as they flew back towards Holt. Watched five Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes chasing one another with wild, break-neck abandon.
As Linda turned the ute around at the LMWQCC gate she braked, pointed  at a Kingfisher on the fence and yelled, "Tally-ho!" "Bad luck," I said. "that's another Sacred, not the secular red-neck we want."
A late afternoon foray produced no kingfisher joy, but we saw seven Double-barred Finches on the ground at the Pine Ridge dam. And a perched raptor puzzled us until we agreed it was a light-phase Brown Falcon.
John Layton.


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