Autumn happenings

Subject: Autumn happenings
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 16:32:14 +1100
It's really starting to feel like autumn here in Katoomba, in the upper Blue Mountains NSW. Beautiful clear days are typical of this time of year here and it's easy to be enthused about simply being outdoors.

For the past three mornings there have been small numbers of White-throated Needletails overhead between 8.30 and 9.15am, the first time this season I've seen them at Katoomba. Where I live they seem to be associated with fine weather at least as often as with storms.

Yesterday and this morning the first flocks of migrating Spotted Pardalotes started moving through, with occasional groups of about 20 passing over my street and their soft contact calls being heard at times throughout the day. So far I've had no migrating honeyeaters at all (not surprising as they usually don't get going until late March, although sometimes there are a few restless flocks moving around as early as February). However, the first passing Noisy Friarbird did make an appearance today.

Also today, I watched a Collared Sparrowhawk soaring amongst a mixed flock of swallows and martins. This bird provided a good example of the way tail moult can confuse identification. The outer tail feathers were regrowing after moult and were shorter than the central ones, making the tail appear rounded. Closer observation revealed that the actual corners were indeed square; this combined with the wing shape betrayed its identity as a sparrowhawk rather than a goshawk. I've often told beginners to be aware that feather moult can play tricks with tail shape, but this was the best and clearest example of this effect that I've ever seen.



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