Whistlers, Fantails etc

To: "Canberrabirds" <>
Subject: Whistlers, Fantails etc
From: "Esme Barker and Bruce Ramsay" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2008 20:11:25 +1100
Over the past 6 weeks or so, the most conspicuous bush birds (visually, vocally or both) at Tharwa Sandwash have been Grey Fantails, Rufous Whistlers and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.
Last Saturday morning when I blitzed the spot, my own observations also concur with those reported by others - Fantails and Whistlers were less in evidence and the only species maintaining its numerical and vocal exuberance was the Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.
Its not that the others weren't there - but they were not as conspicuous as they had been. I have been seeing 6 Grey Fantails on each past visit - 3 pair I have assumed, each pair in its own designated "spot" (two of the spots basically adjoining whilst the third was separated by quite a distance). On Saturday only two pair were about - the other 2 birds simply weren't there or were lying low (unusual for a Fantail). Because they were one of the two previously adjoining pairs, my guess is that territory has been finally established and one pair has moved elsewhere. 
On past visits I have encountered 5 Rufous Whistlers - 3 males and 2 females, in various spots, the males generally chasing amongst themselves and/or singing their little hearts out. At the blitz visit only 2 males were seen - and no females. And the singing was mostly stopped - occasional bursts of it but not the almost constant stream as before. Mostly what they were doing was giving what I think must be alarm/contact calls (a single high pitched note - I'm not really sure of its significance but they have used it when I have been there on past visits too) - presumably because of my presence. I actually assumed that the diminished amount of song and the absence of females were linked - that the males had no need to sing because their mates had not only been attracted but were, in fact, sitting on eggs. I'm probably wrong - but thats what occurred to me.
A pair of Dollarbirds were present for the first time this Spring and a pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters turned up about a week ago and were still in residence (no sign of nesting yet though). Martin's Scared Kingfisher - an example of which has been hanging around on a couple of past visits - was absent. I wondered if the presence of a Laughing Kookaburra might have had anything to do with that (sacre bleu! - intra-Halcyonid competitive displacement?) Equally absent were the Hooded Robins - although I am hoping that someone else may also have blitzed the Sandwash and seen them. They are around - but I must say I don't see them every visit so I wasn't totally surprised not to find them during my blitz survey.
Unlike Mark's experience at the Grassland Reserves, up on the western slopes of Mt Stranger overlooking the Murrumbidgee River Corridor, the 4 Australasian Pipits were their usual prominent selves. And at Pt Hut Pond, I think an entire continent's supply of Wood Ducks have been hatching lately. Plus a few cygnets (4 very young ones and some about 6 weeks old) and, for the first time that I have noted at the Pond, hatchling Dusky Moorhens.
Hope others had as much enjoyment from the Blitz as I did.
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