The wetlands again over-delivered on a cold and sometimes sunny afternoon when my son Lach and I didn’t expect to see much.
A good start was a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes hanging around the Dairy Road carpark. They were perching in one of the small eucalypts (E. leucoxylon, I think), sallying out to hover just over the canopy of the adjacent tree,
seize a sawfly larva in their bill, then return to the first tree to bash the larva against a branch several times, eat it, and fly back for the next snack. Each bird consumed several while we were watching, then they flew off to the west.
Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Shoveller, Grey Teal and Pink-eared Duck are all regulars at the wetlands, although the flock of approximately 110 Pink-eared Duck rising into view from the sewage ponds, circling and settling back was
pretty spectacular – they are a beautiful duck in flight. A couple of Hardhead added diversity. And, perched on the submerged log in the middle of Kelly’s Swamp along with some of regulars, was a single Freckled Duck and a single Plumed Whistling Duck.
The latter was a nice addition to my ACT list as I had missed the group of Plumed Whistling Duck last seen at Kelly’s.
And raptors. Any raptor is special, and normally two species on a visit to the wetlands would be good going for me, but in addition to Kestrel, Whistling Kite, and at least one and maybe two very active Goshawks, today’s other highlight
was a Spotted Harrier. The Harrier hung around for a while, both over the section of Dairy Road that heads towards the Molongo and over Kelly’s Swamp, scaring the smaller birds in a couple of low passes and spending time in a tree almost above Cygnus Hide.