Freckled Ducks @ The Wetlands Centre

To: "birding-aus" <>, "Louise Duff" <>, "Craig Arms" <>, "Michael Roderick" <>, "Bryan Green" <>, "Shane Ruming" <>, <>, "Mike Weston" <>, <>, <>, "Aimee (work) Hutchinson" <>, <>, <>
Subject: Freckled Ducks @ The Wetlands Centre
From: "Peter Ekert" <>
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 07:12:51 +1100
Hi Everybody
A short stroll of about 45 minutes yesterday morning (0825-0910hrs 13/11/01) around the Wetlands Centre at Shortland yielded 61 species.  Undoubtedly the highlight of the expedition were 7 Freckled Ducks at the Reed Marsh.  These birds were first observed last week and it was great to still see them there yesterday.  The birds were easily observed, roosting and/or foraging in a relatively open section of the marsh.  The recent records of Freckled Ducks at Kelly Swamp in the ACT and here at the Wetlands Centre (and in previous years) are indicative of the importance of these sites for the species.
Water levels have been dropping naturally across the ponds at the site over the past few weeks, and this has led to the areas of mud on the fringes of the ponds becoming exposed, providing suitable foraging areas for species such as Latham's Snipe, Black-winged Stilts and Red-kneed Dotterels.  An individual Latham's Snipe has been frequently observed over the past two weeks roosting in open grass, along with Magpie Geese, Pacific Black Ducks, Hardheads, Chestnut and Grey Teals.
A pair of Brown Goshawks have been nesting over the past few weeks in a large Eucalypt adjacent to the Reed Marsh. Yesterday the female proceeded to dive bomb me as I was standing approximately 50-75 metres from the nest site.  After calling loudly from a nearby tree, the bird flew in quietly on 6 separate occasions, talons exposed, to come within 1/2 metre of the top of my head. 
After the adrelin rush of the Brown Goshawk I went to seek some peace and tranquillity of more quieter species in forested areas of the site.  A number of adult White-breasted Woodswallows with juveniles were observed. Adults were feeding the juveniles on a number of occasions, along with a juvenile Fan-tailed Cuckoo.  Other birds observed in the forest were White-winged Trillers, White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Brown Honeyeaters, White-browed Scrubwrens, Yellow Thornbills, Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo, Superb Blue Wrens, Rufous Whistlers, Mistletoebirds and Grey Fantails.  Along the margins of the Water Ribbon and Brambles Ponds in the reedy vegetation were Clamorous Reed Warblers, Golden-headed Cisticolas, a single Pheasant Coucal, Little Grassbirds and Tawny Grassbirds were all observed. 
In the areas of open water at these ponds birds such as Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, Royal Spoonbills, White-faced Herons, Eurasian Coots, Australian White Ibis, and Australasian Grebes were all observed foraging.  Meanwhile, Nankeen Night Herons kept a watchful eye perched in the Melaleucas.  An individual Swamp Harrier, and a number of Australian Pelicans were observed soaring overhead.
There were many other species observed during the short stroll.  In all I had a great morning, beautiful sunshine, a slight breeze, and a great variety of bird species all set the scene for quite a productive day of work.
Peter Ekert
Project Co-ordinator
Birds Australia 
(Liverpool Plains Woodland Bird Project (North NSW))
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
(Monitoring Rufous Scrub-birds in North-east NSW)
Project Officer
The Wetlands Centre
PO Box 292
Ph. 02 49516466     Mob.  0410566104     Fax.  02 49501875
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