Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, May 10, 2010

Several new birds for my house list (no photos).

Last week, my brother and I were fortunate to see (briefly) a pure white White Goshawk fly out from the ridge to the east, and then do a circuit, before being attacked by the resident Magpie clan. They really behave like "bovver-boys".

Technically, this is not a new species for me, as the "experts" regard this bird as a white "morph" of the Grey Goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae) which is an occasional visitor here, from the dense rainforest below the escarpment (only a few minutes flying time away).

At first, we thought it might have been a White Cockatoo, but the Magpies do not bother to harass the Cockies. plus, Cockies seldom fly by themselves.

Later in that afternoon, in warm sunny weather, Brendan asked me what bird was calling. A gentle, high pitched trilling call, descending gently. At first I thought it could only be an Eastern Spinebill, but then I realised it was not giving the fast repetitive trill which Spinebills give. I suggested possible a Scarlet Honeyeater, and Brendan immediately replied: "Of course". What he did not know was that it is a new bird for me here. He is quite familiar with them from the moist gullies in the far South Coast. For me, I was going back to last New Year's Day when I heard many of them calling high in the Eucalypt trees when searching for Christmas Orchids, south from Ulladulla, also on the South Coast.

The Scarlet Honeyeater is on the bird lists from the Barren Grounds, approximately 15 Kms from here (presumably from the rainforest patches there, not from the Heathlands). But this was my first record. Although only an auditory record, as there were two observers present, and we both agreed with the ID, I am prepared to put it down on my list.

Other birds have been as per normal for a long, warm Autumn. The migrating Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and White-naped Honeyeaters have been passing through. Their passage had appeared to dwindle (in numbers) over the previous week, when it was very cold, but the last few days of warmer weather has seen the numbers pick up again. The ratio of Yellow-faceds and White-napes has reversed now (finally). This is expected, as the YFHEs always move first, and the WNHEs come though later.

Today I saw several flocks of 30 or more birds pass through, and they were predominantly White-napes. Their in-flight calls are totally distinctive, and these species, and their migratory habits are very familiar to me, as I grew up banding hundreds of these birds with my father, every autumn, during the years of huge migrations from the Brindabella Ranges, west of Canberra. I found many hundreds of these migrating birds in the Budawangs, last year, near Tianjara Falls.


catmint said...

Hi Denis, how rich you are in birdlife. Thank you so much for helping me along in my nature education. cheers, catmint

Snail said...

You're very privileged to have seen a white phase grey goshawk, I think. How gorgeous!

We get the normal grey phase here. One landed in the garden a few weeks ago, only about 4 m from the window, but flew off before I could get the camera. I think it was after the honeyeaters. (It left disappointed.)

mick said...

I like the list of birds that you have been observing. Very few of those are seen down here - so they sound quite 'exotic' to me! I'm going to have to find new places to bird now the shorebirds have migrated - maybe I'll find more of them a little way inland.