Thursday, 15 May 2014

Report on bird banding at Coutts Crossing 15.02.2014




Banders:  Greg Clancy, Bill Greenlees

Assistants/Visitors: Kirsten Wallis, Paul O’Callaghan, Val Clancy

Only four birds were mist netted on the one day.  There were no retraps.

 The results are shown in the table below.


Banded Retrap
Black-faced Monarch
     1          0
Golden Whistler
     1          0
Rufous Whistler
     2          0
     4          0


Rufous edging to secondaries on first year Golden Whistler

First year Rufous Whistler

The Golden Whistler was a first year Tasmanian bird.  The two Rufous Whistlers were both first year birds.  Rufous Whistler numbers during the autumn-winter period at Coutts Crossing dropped noticeably during the drought but seem to have recovered.  This suggests that these birds may originate, like most Golden Whistlers, from southern latitudes.  The immature Black-faced Monarch was an unusual catch and was probably a bird on passage to more northern latitudes as was the Rufous Fantail that was observed.

Immature Black-faced Monarch

Immature Black-faced Monarch


Interesting observations were of 20+ White-throated Needletails and 1 Fork-tailed Swift. An adult Sacred Kingfisher was observed feeding young in its nest hollow in a large eucalypt.  A very brightly coloured wasp-like insect was photographed.  It was later identified by Ian Buddle as a Giant Robber Fly. Black Prince Cicadas and meat ants were also photographed.

Adult Sacred Kingfisher near nest hollow

Adult Sacred Kingfisher with Garden Sun-skink near nest hollow

Sacred Kingfisher nest hollow in eucalypt
Giant Robber Fly Phelus olgae caught in mist net, released unharmed
Black Prince Cicada
Black Prince Cicada (ventral view)
Meat ants at nest


Eastern Grass Owl and white morph Grey Goshawk successfully rehabilitated

The Harwood area on the Clarence River near Maclean is certainly a hotspot for wildlife.  The proximity to the River and the variety of natural habitats means that a great diversity of species occurs there.  Brolgas, nesting Eastern Ospreys, Brahminy Kites, Black-necked (Satin) Storks, Mangrove Gerygones and many others are regularly seen there.  Despite this is was quite surprising to learn that two rare species, one a threatened species, were taken into care by WIRES after apparently being hit by motor vehicles.  The first was an Eastern Grass Owl found on 7 April 2014 and the second a white morph Grey Goshawk taken in on 30 April 2014. 

Eastern Grass Owl and white morph Grey Goshawk in WIRES care photo Sandy Webb 

The Goshawk was released successfully near where it was found, but away from the danger of the Pacific Highway, in early May.  The Grass Owl was released at the same location on Tuesday May 13.  Before it was released I placed an Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme numbered stainless steel band on its leg under Stephen Debus' rehabilitated raptor banding project.  Photos of the banding are shown below:


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Report on trip to Lower Clarence wetlands and bushland 01/05/14


We regularly do a trip 'down river' to check on the Black-necked Storks but it is also great to do a day list and check out all other species encountered as well.  We usually record over 100 species of birds, sometimes as many as 120 or more, but the numbers aren't as important as the quality of the beautiful and rare or uncommon species observed.  Out latest trip saw us record 109 bird species as well as one mammal, two reptile and three frog species.

Starting at home at Coutts Crossing we ticked off 32 species before venturing too far.  These included some wetland species at the local wetlands, Brothersons and Deadmans Swamps.  One Comb-crested Jacana and an adult male Chestnut Teal were at the former wetland while Deadmans had a pair of Black-winged Stilts and a Great Cormorant.  The Magpie Geese and Plumed Whistling-Ducks were still present at the former poultry farm dams north-east of Coutts Crossing.  There were 82+ Geese and 65+ Whistling-Ducks.


Magpie Geese and Plumed Whistling-Ducks NE of Coutts Crossing


Magpie Geese, Plumed Whistling-Ducks and Australian Wood Ducks

We found 85+ more Plumed Whistling-Ducks at Butterfactory Lane, north of Graton, after driving through the city.   There we also had another Comb-crested Jacana and two Yellow-billed Spoonbills. A morning tea break in Southgate State Forest produced some good forest birds including the Black-chinned Honeyeater, 2+ Rainbow Bee-eaters, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Restless Flycatcher and Common Bronzewing. 

South of Round Mountain Road, south of Lawrence, we came across an adult female Black-necked (Satin) Stork foraging at a small wetland.  A check of the former nest tree there, which hadn't been used for some years, showed that some sticks had been placed on the old nest location, suggesting the beginnings of a new nest.  Watch this space.  Our second Stork for the day was an adult male bathing and drying his wings at 'Arndilly' at Tullymorgan, not far from the nest there. The Nankeen Night Herons were in their usual Moreton Bay Fig but we only counted nine birds.  There are usually a couple of dozen of these handsome birds here.  

Adult Nankeen Night Heron hiding in foliage of Moreton Bay Fig
Adult Nankeen Night Heron in Bloodwood

The Lawrence Egret Colony Swamp had a little more water than on an earlier visit and a few Freckled Ducks and Pink-eared Ducks had returned.  We counted 5+ Freckled Ducks and 20+ Pink-eared Ducks, well down on previous counts.

The full species list is as follows:

Birds: Magpie Goose (T), Plumed Whistling-Duck, Freckled Duck (T), Black Swan, Australian Wood Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Grebe, *Rock Dove, White-headed Pigeon, *Spotted Dove, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, Peaceful Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Australasian Darter, Little Pied Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Australian Pelican, Black-necked Stork (T), White-necked Heron, Eastern Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Cattle Egret, White-faced Heron, Little Egret, Nankeen Night-Heron, Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Eastern Osprey (T), Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whistling Kite, Brahminy Kite, Brown Goshawk, Swamp Harrier, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Nankeen Kestrel, Brolga (T), Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Black-fronted Dotterel, Masked Lapwing, Comb-crested Jacana (T), Caspian Tern, Crested Tern, Silver Gull, Galah, Little Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Australian King-Parrot, Eastern Rosella, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, Superb Fairy-wren, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Spotted Pardalote, Striated Pardalote, Yellow Thornbill, Brown Thornbill, Eastern Spinebill, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Fuscous Honeyeater, Noisy Miner, Little Wattlebird, Brown Honeyeater, Black-chinned Honeyeater, White-throated Honeyeater, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird, Little Friarbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Golden Whistler, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Australasian Figbird, Grey Butcherbird, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Torresian Crow, Restless Flycatcher, Magpie-lark, Jacky Winter, Eastern Yellow Robin, Golden-headed Cisticola, Silvereye, Welcome Swallow, Tree Martin, *Common Myna, Mistletoebird, Red-browed Finch, *House Sparrow, Australasian Pipit.

Mammals: Eastern Grey Kangaroo.
Reptiles: Short-necked Turtle, Eastern Water Dragon.

Amphibians: Common Eastern Froglet, Dusky Toadlet, Plains Toadlet.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Report on bird banding at Orara River, Coutts Crossing on 07.12.13

Banders:  Greg Clancy, Bill Greenlees

Assistant: Val Clancy


Only twelve birds of three species were mist netted on the day, five being retraps. 


The results are shown in the table below.


Banded         Retrap
Grey Fantail
     1                0
     1                0
Lewin’s Honeyeater
     5                5
     7                5

Lewin's Honeyeater

First year Lewin's Honeyeater

The five retraps were all Lewin’s Honeyeaters banded in 2012 and 2013.  The Grey Fantail had a tail-wing ratio of 1.22 suggesting that it was of the Tasmanian race.  Tasmanian birds are usually only present in the local area during the autumn and winter so this bird either decided to not return to Tasmania (it may have been a young adult too young to breed) or it was a long-tailed local bird.


Other interesting records were Pacific Baza (heard calling), Rufous Fantail, Varied Triller, Little Shrike-thrush, Cicadabird (heard calling), and an Azure Kingfisher in a tree in the Orara River.   A constantly begging juvenile Shining Bronze-Cuckoo was being fed by a Brown Thornbill and a juvenile Fan-tailed Cuckoo appeared to be being fed by a Grey Fantail.  Two Eastern Water Dragons, two Short-necked Turtles and few Garden Sun-skinks were the reptiles observed. 


The full list follows: birds: Pacific Black Duck, Bar-shouldered Dove, Wonga Pigeon, Little Pied Cormorant, Eastern Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Pacific Baza, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Little Corella, Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Azure Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, Sacred Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, Dollarbird, Brown Gerygone, Brown Thornbill, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, White-throated Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird, Little Friarbird, Eastern Whipbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Cicadabird, Varied Triller, Little Shrike-thrush, Grey Shrike-thrush, Australasian Figbird, Olive-backed Oriole, Australian Magpie, Rufous fantail, Grey Fantail, Torresian Crow, Eastern Yellow Robin, Silvereye, Mistletoebird, Reptiles: Short-necked Turtle, Eastern Water Dragon, Garden Sun-skink.  


A number of interesting invertebrates (dragonflies and cicadas) were observed and photographed.


Razor Grinder (cicada)

Razor Grinder (ventral view)

Red Dragonfly at Orara River

Grey Dragonfly at Orara River