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Tales of a birding P-plater: Early-birding

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Old Sunday 21st October 2007, 02:00   #1
PenSketcher
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Tales of a birding P-plater: Early-birding

Sunday, 21 October 2007

I woke up early this morning, about 6:00am. I had my alarm set for 5:30 but a power-cut switched it off. At first all I could think of was sleeping, but I managed to drag myself out of bed to get ready for my first early-bird birdwatch.

I played out the path I would take around Kingston, the suburb I live in a little north of Bunbury, Australia. I was on my bike by 6:10. I wanted to ride to save time in-between stops. I decided to head west, towards the small pond where I often see cormorants and ibises. On my ride through the streets I saw a Willy Wagtail and a group of Masked Woodswallow fly over. Also the odd Silvereye hopping about the bottlebrushes.

6:10, Stop 1: Kingston Pond
Immediately I saw the Wood Ducks in and around the pond. The other little duck which I suspect is a Grey Teal was also there amongst them. I free-wheeled down the tiny hill and around the bend. I stopped halfway to watch the Welcome Swallows fly in acrobatic little twists and turns and nearly fell off my bike as an unseen group of Wood Duck were spooked out of their hiding place about half a metre away!
I followed the path around the pond until I was one the opposite side. I looked up into the large dead tree often occupied by Masked Woodswallow but there was nothing but a sleeping Laughing Turtle Dove. I scanned the field in-between the pond and river for ibises using my bins but to no prevail; they must be at Kingston centre. I did see a Willie Wagtail though and watched it sing for awhile. I was about to leave but stopped dead in my tracks; the cormorant I wanted to see just landed in the ol' dead tree! I snatched up my feebly small bins and trained them on the new arrival. I had seen it before, and had thought it a Pied Cormorant, but now saw it had quite an unusually shaped head. I now know it is a LITTLE Pied Cormorant, and yes, there is a difference.

6:37, Stop 2: Kingston Centre
I rode back to the east, seeing nothing interesting on my way to Kingston Centre. The centre of Kingston is much like a shrunken wetland, in the center of a circle of streets. There is a path through the center of a forest-like part but the wetland is a pain to view. I rode down to the fence in a section where most of the wetland could be viewed. With a one swoop of my bins I spotted two Ringnecks, a Eurasian Coot being hassled by three Pacific Black Ducks, Wood Ducks galore, and two Red Wattlebirds playing tag.
I could hear and see the nesting White Ibis flock in the centre of it all. Thats where they were! There were about fifty of them covering the trees like bundles of snow. Their young were nowhere to be seen but I could hear them begging for more food.
I followed the path to the turnoff that ran through the trees. This part is surprisingly dry when it comes to birds, but with a little pishing you can often see one or two wattlebirds. In their usual perch I noticed two Ravens pecking affectionately at each other, without their hellish caw-ing they seemed quite peaceful.. I didn't bother pishing this time, it was already 6:45, I had to be home by 7:00 and still had one more stop to go! I did notice however a Grey Butcherbird dart away round the the path junction. I peered round it and spotted the bird in a nest! It added a few twigs to it and took off for some more. I didn't want to disturb it any further so I carried on down the main path.
Back in the view of the road, I halted to let an introduced Indian Peafowl pass. I was about to take off again but heard a very strange bird-like thudding noise. I followed the noise visually to a Purple Swamphen by a patch of reed! I watched it to make sure it was the source of the noise. I turned around to scan the trees to the other side of the path. A couple of Red-capped Parrots flew by, and there were more Welcome Swallow darting about the trees. It was on my way to Stop 3 when I saw three Magpie Larks.

On the way to the park I passed a Willie Wagtail too obsessed with some grasshopper to notice me.

6:50, Stop 3: Kingston Park
I had little time so this stop was somewhat hurried. I stopped by the patch of trees where I frequently see thornbills hunting. Sure enough, as soon as I halted a Yellow-rumped Thornbill dropped from the trees and started scanning the grass for bugs. I watched him for a while before looking left and seeing an odd brown bird hovering in between two flowering bushes. I now have ID-ed this as a Brown Honeyeater! Also there was yet another Willie Wagtail fluttering around showing off his fan-like tail. Unfortunately the Grey Fantail was nowhere to be seen.
I rode on a little more until I could view the middle-east pond and added the Wood Duck, Pacific Black Duck and a fly-over White Ibis to my mental-list.

I checked my watch: 7:04! Mum's gonna kill me... Luckily I got home even before she woke up and escaped any sort of trouble. I convinced my brother to unlock the door and sat down to write up what I'd seen.

Lifers: 2
  • Little Pied Cormorant
  • Brown Honeyeater
I'll edit-in a full list of what I saw later.

Although it was only fifty minutes I certainly had a good time and saw a fair amount of birds! I'm chuffed with these two lifers, only twenty-two more for my yearly goal! All of this was within 1km2!

Hope you enjoyed reading this, I can't write anymore for the moment, I can hear a New-Holland Honeyeater outside - it's calling for me!
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Last edited by PenSketcher : Sunday 21st October 2007 at 02:28.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2007, 12:22   #2
halftwo
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Nice account PS - takes me back to Oz.

P.S.I would get a good pair of bins before a camera.

Keep them coming, H
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Old Sunday 21st October 2007, 12:46   #3
PenSketcher
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Fortunately I already have bins. They're not great but they do their job.
Thanks for the encouragement,
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Old Monday 22nd October 2007, 09:29   #4
PenSketcher
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Monday 22 October 2007
I had parent-teacher interviews today. I couldn't help staring out the window at 2 Lifers I spotted. I missed the question that I was asked lol.

Lifers: 2
  • Little egret
  • White-necked heron
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2007, 04:32   #5
PenSketcher
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Tuesday 23 October 2007
I went out again early this morning. 5:00am this time, so I had a lot more time to bird. Fortunately you won't have to hear me ramble as I'm too tired to write for now. I did however see two lifers: A Cattle egret flyover the park and a group of three Hardhead in our wetland.
I also got excitingly close to a Nankeen Kestrel. I watched him swoop, catch, and eat something on the road before having one half an hour preen.
Lifers: 2
  • Hardhead
  • Cattle Egret
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