Majura firing Range Woodland Survey (Barbara Allan and Paul Fennell)

To: Canberrabirds <>
Subject: Majura firing Range Woodland Survey (Barbara Allan and Paul Fennell)
From: Paul Fennell <>
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2016 05:48:27 +0000
It was a wonderful day for birdwatching, bright, sunny and warm (but not hot) and with no wind until the last of the sites around 11:00 am.  The range itself was a picture, with swathes of wildflowers in a ground cover richer than any seen before in that area.  It was a bit like the Wizard of Oz in some parts, with great swatches of bright yellow flowers stretching out towards the horizon.  Unfortunately the flowers in question were St John’s Wort, but they still looked lush and loverly, There was some live firing on the range on that morning, so we had to be a bit careful where we went.

The number of sightings and number of birds seen was generally well up on earlier years, with 38 species seen on-site, and 4 other species (including Australian Pipit) not otherwise recorded. One highlight was a  Brush Cuckoo calling stridently, but we were unable to spot it. There were Olive-backed Orioles literally everywhere, and there were few sites where we did not report 3 or more, often seen and always heard. At one site, for the entire period, and ObO was viciously belting what appeared to be a large fat cicada, and it was still carrying on when we left. There were numerous groups of ravens scattered throughout the range, and more groups and higher numbers of Choughs than we have been used to seeing.  

Another highlight was the sighting of a Brown Falcon being harassed by magpies.  I believe this is the first Brown Falcon seen at that site, where previously there had been Australian Hobbies contesting for tree ownership with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.

What was down a little was the number of little brown birds, with only sporadic sightings of Weebill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill and Striated Pardalote but with a complete absence of Buff-rumped Thornbill (generally fairly common). Many of the summer migrants were in residence in some numbers, including Noisy Friarbird.
lots of Rufous Whistler, a good supply of Rufous Songlark, some Leaden Flycatcher and Grey Fantail. and a single Pallid Cuckoo. Two Common Bronzewing were seen, and on the dam a pair of Australasian Grebe were showing 3 quite young chicks how to get breakfast. There were a few more observations of Laughing Kookaburra than usual, and at one site a Speckled Warbler was spotted (sorry).  Near the dam up near the NSW border there 4 Willy Wagtails seen feeding dependent young.

Quite a lot of kangaroos were seen, and it was quite noticeable that they were doing well, and all appearing to have grown  considerable through winter and spring. There’s a lot of big roos in these top paddocks.  However, such has been the season that there is little apparent significant overgrazing, although a careful observer can see where many of the grasses have been cropped fairly closely to the ground.  

All in all, it was a most interesting morning, and one we should remember for a long time.
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