birding-aus White-backed Swallows et al

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Subject: birding-aus White-backed Swallows et al
From: "Bill Jolly" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 11:12:38 +1000
I was delighted yesterday to see the return after a 2 year absence of
White-backed Swallows here at "Abberton" (Lockyer Valley, Queensland, 27.34'
S  152.08E).

During the late 80s and early 90s White-backed Swallows were present in just
about every month of the year. They would certainly come and go, but it
would be a rare week when they didn't make an appearance at all. However
during the bad drought times which followed in the mid 90s, we lost them for
a few years until they made a brief reappearance in May 97 - then nothing
again until yesterday afternoon, when seven or eight of these beautiful
birds spent some time hawking over the creek alongside the house  exhibiting
their typically more erratic, relatively fluttering flight in comparison to
the much more generous sweeping curves executed by the nearby Welcome

Following a swallow in flight caused us to drop on to a Peregrine Falcon
sitting at the peak of a long dead eucalypt across the creek, another bird
that we don't see quite as often as we used to here.

The resurgence continued this morning, when from the breakfast table on the
verandah we saw a big platypus floating legs akimbo on the surface of the
creek - again the first daytime sighting for several months. Say eight to
ten years ago, we would record scores of daytime sightings of platypus from
the verandahs - every time of the day was possible even at noon on one
overcast day, though more commonly early morning or late afternoon. Lockyer
Creek dried during that mid-nineties big drought, having survived all other
droughts in recorded time, at the very least leaving a sizeable billabong in
front of the house, but this time it just went away to nothing. We had a
rescue mission from the University of Queensland trying to locate and move
platypus to remnant water holes elsewhere (without success), and like the
White-backed Swallows we lost our platypus for a couple of years, with just
very occasional daytime sightings at intervals since.

However, White-backed Swallows and Platypus on consecutive days shouts
something very encouraging doesn't it!

Little Eagles are also regular here at present. Michael Atzeni asked me if
they were winter visitors at Abberton - which hadn't occurred to me - and I
checked our records to find that all sightings of Little Eagles here over
the last twelve years have been from April to August, apart from just one
September record.

I managed to get a fairly good underwing shot (photo, that is) of a Little
Eagle, which I have now put on our website, along with some Azure Kingfisher
close-ups from a jury-rigged hide we've erected on the creekbank and several
other Abberton photos, as well as a write up about current sightings over
the last couple of months. It's all indexed and thumb-nailed, so do have a
look at

Anyone interested in a copy of the Abberton 'home list' of 180 spp (176 from
the verandahs), or the Lockyer Valley list of 315 spp in a 30km radius of
Abberton, please just drop me an email, and I'll be pleased to forward one.
I'll put both lists on the website as soon as I can ever find the time to
tackle one of those long-winded html tables.

Bill Jolly
"Abberton", Helidon, Qld
ph  07 46976111
fax 07 46976056
Visit our website at:

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