Bards in west Holt

To: "Canberra Birds" <>
Subject: Bards in west Holt
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 2010 18:03:56 +1000

Yesterday morning the birds around the Pegasus Riding School, Holt must have had some arcane warning, as wild creatures often appear to, that a change of weather was imminent. I saw several flocks busily making hay, or more to the point, garnering sustenance while the autumn sun shone.


Over by the yards, a good 20 House Sparrows were feeding around the edges of a scattered heap of horse apples, seemingly all female and/or immature birds. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen this number of sparrows so far removed from Westfield Shopping Town where they can usually be found. Further away 27 Red-rumped Parrots were pecking on a short-mown sward. As I walked along a track I came upon 12 European Goldfinches engrossed in a raft of seeding flatweed. I wondered if there were Double-barred Finches present as they’re usually thereabouts somewhere. Within minutes I noticed four dusting just off the track. Twenty-five or so Yellow-rumped Thornbills peppered the ground beneath eucalyptus regrowth while others, probably Brown Thornbills, accompanied by Striated Pardalotes combed through the foliage. I saw two more Striated Pardalotes loitering along guttering as if checking for a nesting site. Back at the horse yards about 30 Welcome Swallows swooped and dipped while a Willie Wagtail yo-yoed at a lower level. I could see myriads of midge-like insects (maybe they were midges) rising in the sunshine. High above I was surprised (should I have been?) to see c.12 Dusky Woodswallows circling.


As I returned to the car I witnessed an amusing interlude. Some forty Galahs were feeding  in a paddock when I noticed one of the Pegasus cats, named Idlewilde  (no, don’t know why, could have forgotten to update his name to Kennedy International J) slinking towards the flock. As he arrived 10m from the birds they rose and circled calling stridently. Unfazed, Idlewilde immediately set about digging a little latrine trench and squatted looking as nonchalant as, well,  a nonchalant-acting cat can look. The galahs retired to spot 100m away while I’wilde, all in his own good time, filled in his excavation and sauntered homewards. In the same paddock 40-plus Common Starlings scissored their bills into the horse-cropped pasture. There’s usually 2-3 Spotted Doves in the area but saw none yesterday. There were, however. 14 Common Mynas present.


John K. Layton.


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