The significance of Parkwood Road

To: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Subject: The significance of Parkwood Road
From: Michael Lenz <>
Date: Sun, 3 Feb 2019 03:53:42 +0000
Thanks Geoffrey for your piece on Parkwood Rd. Your collection of photos from the area in your latest and several earlier messages is certainly most valuable.

I have no doubt that drought conditions will have played a role in influencing bird numbers there. This may especially apply to the Brown Songlark. But a key reason for the abundance of grassland species at Parkwood may be that the area has only a very limited number to no livestock on it, nor is the grass cut for hay. During visits to several rural areas in COG's AoI this spring/summer I have not come across any paddocks that could match those at Parkwood. Most areas are either grazed to overgrazed or used to produce hay. The only sites that may match Parkwood for Bushlarks are some wheat fields near Lake George.

Michael Lenz

On Sun, 3 Feb 2019 at 10:31, Geoffrey Dabb <> wrote:

I have made 11 visits to this site, beginning on 14 January.   While the occasional raptor sighting is of interest to some, to me these are not particularly unusual given the expansive vistas and the nature of the terrain.  My interest has been in the grassland birds, here in exceptional numbers because of widespread drought conditions.  Of particular interest is the number of Horsfield’s Bushlarks, an uncommon bird around Canberra, and clearly breeding at the site.  The number of bushlarks to be seen, with such close views, offers a spectrum of plumage stages, from plain worn-plumage birds to remarkably bright ones, with a few young birds. 


A more common local species is the skylark, to be found at several spots around Canberra, but providing a steady background noise at the site with incessant song-flighting (becoming less frequent in the last few days, I think).  When perched on a wire it shows its ridiculously long hind-claw.  According to one book: ‘almost certainly an adaptation to a cursorial existence, [but] its exact function is uncertain’.  There you are then.


Then there are the conspicuous Brown Songlarks, with their loud skritchy-skratchy song.    Apart from the song-flighting they let you know they are there by sitting on fence-posts with that brazen I AM SONGLARK pose.  More difficult to find are examples of plumages other than the breeding male, but over several visits I have accumulated images of what might be about ten different non-BM individuals, mainly juveniles. Some of these have boldly striped underparts that bear no relation to any field guide illustration.  I wonder whether the different plumages of this species are well understood.  Certainly there is quite a degree of inconsistency in the books.


And the pipits.  We all know the ‘typical pipit’, but there are some little chaps along Parkwood Road that would test the most experienced pipitologist.  Without starting on the problems of bill, claw etc,  I offer the below assortment from my ‘query species’ folder to see what you think.


I might add that I found a Rufous Songlark out there, to complete the grassland suite.


I do not have space here to start on the bird counters and bird photographers.  Also seasonally abundant.




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