Whistlers, Fantails etc

To: Rod's Gardening <>
Subject: Whistlers, Fantails etc
From: John Brannan <>
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 11:03:00 +1100
Sue Matthews and I blitzed the Pinnacle area up at Hawker on Sunday and recorded 53 species in all. The highlights were 2 pairs of Leaden Flycatchers (one pair probably nesting next door to a pair of N. Friarbirds), a pair of S. Kingfishers, 5 Southern Whiteface, 5 Grey Fantails (fewer than usual, I think), 3 Dollarbirds, 2 Speckled Warblers (probably 2 pairs), 3 Varied Sitellas, one male Rufous Whistler singing lustily, Brown-headed and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, and a solitary Diamond Firetail. We dipped on the W-T Gerygone, which has been calling up there for a couple of weeks now, and I had hoped to get all 5 of the local thornbills, but couldn't find the Browns or Yellows that I've seen up there recently. I also thought that things were pretty quiet early on, though the morning was generally very good, with the Kingfishers and S. Whiteface particularly pleasing.


Rod's Gardening wrote:
I recorded 42 species during 4 hrs paddle-blitzing Jerra Creek and environs on Sat morning.  Of the species being discussed I wrote down 20 Wood Ducks, 6 Rufous Whistlers (only one female actually sighted but calling was well spread out over the distance covered) and 12 Grey Fantails which were also very vocal.  I suspect numbers were actually much higher. 
Also seen were at least 2 Sacred Kingfishers and a pair of WW Trillers.  Sue and Julian who were patrolling the area on foot flushed several Latham's Snipe incl one which apparently passed right in front of me - probably dismissed by me as just another duck.  I also missed out on the Sea Eagle they saw. 
The (presumed) Whistling Kite nest looks further advanced than 6 weeks ago, and although there was at least 1 WK patrolling I didn't see any activity in or at the nest.  The WK at one stage was harassed by 5 Masked Lapwings, and in turn a little later flushed 15 Masked Lapwings as it cruised overhead.  Another interesting observation was an unmistakeable WK call served up by a Blackbird in the middle of its repertoire. 
Reed Warblers were prolific, buzzing in and out of the streamside vegetation like bees.  I wrote down 30 but again that number would be conservative.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2008 9:44 PM
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Whistlers, Fantails etc

Thanks for the very interesting account Bruce, possibly no surprise that I always enjoy these kinds of posts comparing notes on what is present or absence on local patches.
Like others I noted that on Saturday, particularly early, birds were very quiet.  I put it down to the cold but dry conditions, but that's pure speculation.
Also interesting was that I didn't find a Wood Duck over the entire weekend.  Usually they are scattered over the several local dams.  My daughter claimed that they were all in Yarralumla Bay where she was participating in a triathlon, but now I know at least some were at Point Hut pond.
Jack Holland
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2008 8:11 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Whistlers, Fantails etc

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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