Monday, July 11, 2011

Karkarook Park, June 11th 2011

Yet another trip to Karkarook today, and similar to before, I came in search of the very frequently reported Tree Sparrows, which despite 5 or so trips directly after (and sometimes on) the day of them being reported, I have yet to see.

I arrived at the entrance by Warrigal Road at 10am, and as always and took a walk to the first Flame Robin spot, to check its presence. On the way I picked up Common Greenfinch in the wetlands to the right. White-plumed Honeyeater and Superb Fairy-wren started appearing from here on in. At the first spot, the robin could not be located, so I carried on up to the birdhide. On the way I found the regular Swamphens and Moorhens in the reeds, as well as a few Noisy Miners by the fenceline. I also tried to get a better shot of White-plumed Honeyeater here, but failed.

At the bird hide, a White-faced Heron was precariously perched on the edge of the roof. It was a while before I noticed it. A single Great Cormorant was on the buoys, as usual, though it didn't appear to be in breeding plumage (that or it was an immature). The view outside the bird hide was as desolate as it was inside.

Retiring from what in my experience seems to be a regularly quiet spot, I continued up the path. As I neared the corner I caught sight of 5 rather audible birds flying over and disappearing over the trees. I figured they were Rosellas at first sight, but many other things showed them to be a bird I had yet to see around these parts; Red-rumped Parrots.

Around the corner I started seeing New Holland Honeyeaters in the usual spot with more White-plumed Honeyeater. I also saw a breeding male Superb Fairy-wren; the first breeding bird on the trip so far. At the large log nearby the path down to the pier, I checked out the regular group of "strangely sounding House Sparrows", which sound absolutely identical to the RSPB recording of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow found here, but as usual, I managed to locate the entire flock, and not a single bird was a Tree. I came very close to nailing that White-plumed Honeyeater, but narrowly missed it simply by a single branch blurring the shot. At this same place, I caught sight of a larger bird in the tree, which turned out to be an immature Golden Whistler, only the second bird I've seen here. A lady here asked me if I was looking for the "pretty red wren", which she told me is often seen on the eastern edge here. I had seen it many times before, but never around this part of the park. I replied no, and carried on my way.

Literally 10 seconds walk form there at the stables I caught sight of a little red puff on the fence. And there was the Flame Robin in all its crimson apparell. It eventually came down to the grass infront of me; I didn't even have to try approaching it, as it came to me, whether it meant to or not. I momentarily turned around to the path and a brown bird shot across the path infront of a walker; a rail. The skulkiness of these birds is very distinctive. It perched on the edge of the hill for a while before disappearing in a small clump of grass. I decided to try and stalk it by walking around the other grass and waiting by the opposite side of the shrub it entered, and sure enough it popped right out into the sun, only a metre away. My only other sighting of a Buff-banded Rail was a flyby at Edithvale, so this was certainly a pleasure. After it posed and ran off into the reeds down by the water's edge I returned to the robin. I then checked the House Sparrow flock at the stables, just in case these so-called Tree Sparrows happened to associate themselves; I had no idea where to look, as none of the reporters gave any details on these birds, not even did any reports in the past few years!


Up the grassy path here I also found a female Robin, but the two didn't seem to have any relation to each other. An Australasian Grebe popped out the reeds here and made a hurried departure via swimming. A few children showed up too, and told me it was a Dabchick, which I found surprising. From this I assume that they were European, and well-taught (the Dabchick is another name for the Little Grebe; the European equivalent of the Australasian Grebe which is virtually identical except in neck markings). I returned to the path and saw (and heard) a pair of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos fly over Warrigal Road. I have no idea why they are so abundant in this region of the suburb and not elsewhere. I came to the wooden bridge that seperates a small section of the lake and found a female Australasian Darter on the edge of the rocks with a few Little Pied Cormorants, being pursued by the same children earlier who were shouting "Cormorant, Cormorant!". This was the first time I also really noticed that unlike Cormorants they have orange feet.

Upon completing the first loop, I started walking back to where I started, and came across another Flame Robin, right in the place where I expected to see it the first time. This bird, like the first one not only didn't care about being approached, but it also came towards me on a few occasions. This along with the perfect lighting came together for some very nice photos.

On the second loop there was noticeable less birds as it went past 11am, especially in terms of White-plumed Honeyeaters. Outside the bird hide this time was another Australasian Darter.

In the trees to the left of the fence, just before the stables, I saw a large grey bird in the tree; a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. I was sure that I heard one earlier on but I did not pay it much attention. It took its leave very shortly and as a result so did I. The male Flame Robin was still at the stables, and there were still no Tree Sparrows, so I backtracked to where I continually hear the strange-sounding flock of birds. After pursuing the same old flock to double check, I came back to the same tree I saw the Cuckoo-shrike, having heard something unfamiliar. I could not locate the bird, but due to the buzzing notes below I presumed it was a White-browed Scrubwren; a bird that not only do I always forget the song, but ends up surprising me every time.

Total list was 45 birds.

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