Saturday, 31 March 2018

Australia Trip Report Part 2: Canberra and surrounds


I woke refreshed having been so tired that the small hours didn't get witnessed. A bonus of crashing out early was I was up at 6 for dawn. A revitalising coffee and I watched from Tom's back deck. It was cool, in the early teens (perhaps the coolest time of the whole trip). Australian Magpies and Pied Currawongs sung from all around. Amongst the Crimson Rosellas were a brace of Eastern Rosellas. The raucous calls of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos spread over the neighbourhood as they left roosts. Starlings swirled over the neighbourhood as they left the reedbeds of central Canberra. In the garden a Silvereye moved through - my first whiteeye sp. After breakfast Tom led me along the slopes of Big Monk, the mountain that looks over Banks. We flushed a Blackbird and the whir of wings gave away a pair of Crested Pigeons.

Common Myna from my brothers garden
Crested Pigeons along with a Magpie Lark
One of many Galahs
Silvereye
 After lunch we headed to Tidbinbilla, a forest reserve in the Brindabellas. It is huge and draped over a range of mountains. On the way we were surprised by an Echidna crossing the road! Not something I was expecting to see and my brothers first.



Echidna doing hiding.
On the way in the reintroduced Emus were knocking about the entrance. These were thought killed in forest fires several years ago but persisted and recolonised. We went for a walk around the Sanctuary which has a collection of Black Swan, Brolga, Musk Duck, a Pelican and Magpie Geese. Some of these caught me out initially but I was soon square. More genuine were a couple of Little Pied Cormorant, Australasian Swamphen, some Grey Teal and my first Dusky Moorhen. The latter were pretty much dull Moorhens. In the trees an Eastern Yellow Robin was looking very smart and my first Spotted Pardolote. A White-fronted Treecreeper was like an oversize Certhia in behaviour. A couple of Satin Bowerbirds flew through the canopy - these were much larger than I expected. A couple of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were the first of several through the trip. We looked for Black Snakes and Platypus but struck out. We did find some herp interest with Eastern Long-necked Turtle, Shingleback Skink Yellow-bellied Water Skink and Eastern Water Dragon. Several Kookaburras laughed as they flew between perches. The Sanctuary is a wet area which is managed for a number of species with pools and ponds created through slowing the water. There are also pots of gums and eucalypts plus some rocky areas in a small valley.

Australasian Swamphen
Upon leaving we had a drive round the rest of the reserve. A snake was warming itself on the road over a stream. It was seen late as it was dark backed and white underneath with copper between the back and belly. We stopped just in time but couldnt see it. Tom asked me to hop out to check it wasn't wrapped around the wheels - I was all too keen as I wanted better views of this hyper-venomous super elapid! Sadly when I disembarked the Highland Copperhead was nowhere to be seen - it must have snuck off at the last second. I was understandably a little ginger when looking about as it is one of the most venomous snakes in the world and this gave it the opportunity to slope off.

Eastern Long-necked Turtle


Spotted Pardolote

White-throated Treecreeper

Yellow-bellied Water Skink

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive