Friday, 16 December 2016

Dam: More than a big hole in the ground.

Rosenthal Wetland (looking north-east). 15/11/2016 

Despite holding a good deal of water, and there being some rather inviting aquatic vegetation around its perimeter, the Rosenthal Wetland (above), a short distance to the west of Warwick in Queensland, Australia, has been almost completely devoid of waterbirds for the past few months now. Back in mid-spring, almost overnight, just about all them had disappeared, something recorded up and down much of the east coast of Australia. 

It’s no great mystery where they had gone... inland, where there had been some large winter rainfall totals in south-western Queensland and central New South Wales. Reports of birds breeding-up in good numbers out west began trickling back to the east coast several weeks afterwards. And now that it is summer these inland waterbodies must be drying out fast. So it's just a matter of time before the waterbirds start returning to their usual haunts, hopefully in far larger numbers than when they departed. So we wait... 

Fortunately, the location can also be quite good for bush birds. Along the eastern side of the wetland, which is essentially an enormous dam, there is a patch of mixed acacia and eucalypt woodland and, despite its modest size, it can play host to a varied assortment of birds. Apart from its resident birds, there is a steady stream of winter altitudinal migrants from The Great Divide that use this habitat. 

After rain it can be particularly busy here, especially if it has followed a dry spell. With the flush of new growth and seed, birds like this Plum-headed Finch (right) can be found there on occasion. Several times now I have come across them feeding on the dirt road ahead of me, no more than four or five metres away. An opportunist, they can be nowhere to be seen for months and then turn up in reasonable-sized flocks, seemingly out of nowhere.

The site can be quite good for parrots, too. Thus far, since September, 2015, I have recorded thirteen species here, which consist of four species of lorikeet (little, musk, scaly-breasted and rainbow), the Red-rumped Parrot, Eastern Rosella, Cockatiel, Red-winged Parrot and Australian King Parrot, Little Corella, Galah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo. 

And summer can be especially interesting: Oriental Dollarbirds are almost a constant presence at this time of year, hawking out from available perches –preferably those in the shade during this time of year, whilst cisticolas, pipits and Horsfield’s Bushlarks sing from within the surrounding long-grassed paddocks. Needletails occasionally turn-up, reeling in broad arcs against the dark-grey skies of coming storm fronts, and Pacific Koels are quite often heard lamenting from some far off refuge. 

Black Swan are ever-present, having bred successfully on a couple of occasions, so too Grey Teal, Maned Duck, Pacific Black Duck and the Australasian Grebe. A small number of Great Crested Grebe rocked-up almost about the same time all the other waterbirds decamped and have stayed for a few months now. I came across this adult grebe (left) recently, which was in the more central part of the lake when I arrived. On seeing me, however, it made a bee-line for an area of rank grass and reed on the southern side, where it disappeared. Moments later it emerged from cover with a chick hitching a ride on its back, both eyeing me off suspiciously as they attempted to put some distance between myself and they.

Can’t wait till everything returns. For it promises to be interesting times....

My birdlist for the site -as of December, 2016. 

Common Myna*, Common Starling*, Australian Pipit, Horsfield’s Bush Lark, Golden-headed Cisticola*, Tawny Grassbird*, Mistletoebird, Silvereye, Zebra Finch, Double-barred Finch, Plum-headed Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, House Sparrow, Welcome Swallow, Fairy Martin*, Tree Martin, Torresian Crow, Australian Raven, Pied Currawong, Pied Butcherbird, Grey Butcherbird, Australian Magpie*, Australasian Figbird, Olive-backed Oriole, Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike*, White-winged Triller*, Restless Flycatcher, Magpie-lark, Willie Wagtail, Grey Fantail, Rufous Whistler, Australian Golden Whistler, Brown Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, White-plumed Honeyeater, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Noisy Miner, Little Friarbird, Noisy Friarbird, Striped Honeyeater, Yellow Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Weebill, White-throated Gerygone*, Speckled Warbler, Superb Fairy-Wren, Striated Pardalote, Oriental Dollarbird, Sacred Kingfisher*, Laughing Kookaburra, White-throated Needletail, Pacific Koel, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, Red-rumped Parrot, Eastern Rosella, Red-winged Parrot, Australian King Parrot, Cockatiel, Little Lorikeet, Musk Lorikeet*, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Rainbow Lorikeet, Little Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah*, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Peaceful Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Crested Pigeon, Spotted Dove, Rock Dove, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Silver Gull, Latham’s Snipe, Black-fronted Dotterel*, Red-kneed Dotterel, White-headed Stilt, 
Masked Lapwing*, Buff-banded Rail, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Nankeen Kestrel*, Australian Hobby, Brown Falcon, Black Falcon, Whistling Kite*, Black Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Pacific Baza, Black-shouldered Kite, Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Great Egret, Eastern Cattle Egret, White-faced Heron, White-necked Heron, Australasian Darter, Great Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Australian Pied Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant, Australian Pelican, Australasian Grebe*, Hoary-headed Grebe, Great Crested Grebe*, Maned Duck*, Hardhead, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Pink-eared Duck, Musk Duck, Grey Teal*, Pacific Black Duck*, Australasian Shoveler, Plumed Whistling Duck, Black Swan*, Brown Quail

Based on Australian_IOC_Checklist V1.1

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