Tharwa Sandwash 7-4-09

To: "Canberrabirds" <>
Subject: Tharwa Sandwash 7-4-09
From: "Esme Barker and Bruce Ramsay" <>
Date: Tue, 7 Apr 2009 14:04:59 +1000
I decided to carry out my monthly survey of Tharwa Sandwash early, due to the potential impact of the Easter period on the birdlife - or more specifically, the potential impact of holidaying trail bike riders and campers!
It may have been because of the time of year - or maybe the moderate cool breeze that was blowing - but the number of species I observed today was about 20% - 25% down on what I have been seeing during the spring and summer months.
Whatever the reason, whilst the species numbers were down, the bird numbers were way above normal. The fairly obvious cause was migrating Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Flocks ranging from about a half-dozen to over 80 were crossing the river from east to west approximately adjacent to the car parking area. They were then moving south (upstream) along the western river margin - I'm assuming they were heading towards Angle Crossing. They were very purposeful - pausing only briefly to perch every so often before moving on again. In the time I was there (about 2 and a quarter hours), I counted 347 but the real number would have been considerably higher.
There were also a couple of mixed flocks of Thornbills and Silvereyes moving southwards through the trees and shrubs - of the 5 ACT-resident Thornbill species, only the Striated was not in these flocks. The most abundant (21) was Buff-rumped, with only a few each of the other 3 species.
Two Flame Robins (females or immatures) were also present - the first time I have seen the species in the area this year. They were, in fact, in the patch of grassy-clearing/shrubby-wattles where I most usually see the Hooded Robins if they are around - which they weren't today. I guess it must be a good spot for Robins to hunt in!
And to round off the morning, to my surprise a White-bellied Sea-Eagle passed over. It was circling, gaining height through flapping and soaring, and was moving downstream, seeming to be following the course of the river although it may well have been just being taken along on the breeze, which was generally blowing in that direction. It was an immature bird - and from the extent of white on the underwing and tail, was what Pizzey calls a sub-adult and what Simpson and Day refer to as a 2nd year bird, although the underwings had even more white on them than is shown in the relevant illustrations in those two references.
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