Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Joys and Sorrows od Birding

As perhaps Australia's most [in]famous bushranger [for which read highwayman], Ned Kelly, reputedly uttered as the hangman fitted the noose around his neck, "Such is life". Birding has its own ups and downs; its highs and lows.

Last week Fay and I had some hopes of having sighted a pair of juvenile Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda. Having seen the little creatures in the morning, we returned later that afternoon.

En route we had the good fortune of seeing a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus fly low over the adjoining Hoop Pine Araucaria cunninghamii before alighting atop a telegraph pole.

Sadly, we found no further signs of the supposed Star Finch that day. We return the following day and while we had crippling views of Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis flabelliformis the alleged Star Finch again failed o put in an appearance BUT we did see a reasonable flock of Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis which leads us to suspect that the two youngsters we first observed are in fact juveniles of this species; we didn't see the tell-tale red rump and tail region.

As we drove away we also had good views of a Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys and a male Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus lamberti.

But, isn't that birding! One day you're up, the next you're wallowing in the depths of despair.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Random Thoughts on Returning

Started my last Blog with the words “Been away from the Blog too long” and that was only after an absence of about nine days. That was all but two months ago! Who would have thought taking on board a post graduate certificate course would have consumed so much of my non-working time. Still, matters have been partly resolved and here I am, back on tap so to speak, with time to venture forth into my more normal birding activities.

The 2010 Year List, which I guessed would be effected, has crawled up to 158 with this morning’s Rose Robin Petroica rosea and Brown Gerygone Gerygone mouki being particularly pleasing additions. We found both while walking along a track running between a remnant vine scrub and the invidious Ash Dam at Tarong Power Station [where Fay and I have security clearance to monitor the birds].

The Weebill Smicronis brevirostris and Varied Sittella Daphoenositta chrysoptera have returned to the taller trees at the northern end of our property and while we continue to enjoy these, the unexpected visit of a Brown Falcon Falco berigora, actually on our neighbour’s property but clearly visible from our veranda, was a real thrill.

While at the Power Station this morning we came across a finch-type that we have been unable to immediately identify other than to say that the two birds were finches [bill] and both were juveniles of the species. Unfortunately they didn’t hang around long enough for us to take in a number of salient features but if we’re very lucky [lottery ticket time] they’ll turn out to be the rare eastern form of the Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda ruficauda. If the gods are less pleased with us it’ll be the Nutmeg Mannikin Lonchura punctulata which nevertheless would be preferably to the third possibility, the Plum-headed Finch Neochmia modesta. Whichever, any would be an addition to the Year List. We return to the area this afternoon for, hopefully, a better look.

The picture above may appear to have nothing to do with birds, birding or the West Midlands but there is a link. The dam, at the southern end of our property, has been a happy birding spot for us over the past ten years with White-necked Heron Ardea pacifica clearly the pick of the sightings here. The Labrador standing at water’s edge is ZAK, named after Izaak Walton of “The Compleat Angler” fame.

September looms ever closer; Cannock Chase beckons.