Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hawkesbury lagoons.

The street I live in...

With the weather having turned for the worst and no opportunity to ride or walk, there were not too many options. So, taking a leaf out of Maalies book- and make the most of the situation, I decided to do some birding along the dams, river and lagoons of the Hawkesbury.
The Hawkesbury Valley has a large network of lagoons, and lakes and with the rain each is full and bursting with life.

It was a cool day, heavy with showers and storms. It made the day a strange mix of cold air, rain and suddenly sunshine with humidity. I chose to commence the birding in Westbury Lane and was greeted by Bell Minor, Soldier Bird, Australian Magpie and Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike.

Black Swans On Pughs Lagoon

Driving through the rain to Pughs Lagoon and I was greeted by Black Swan, Coot, Swamphen as well as House sparrow, Variegated wren, Whiskered Bul bul, and Plover.

The area that I was visiting has changed over the years. In early settlement the area was Sydney's food basket, in later years, turf farms and now- polo fields. The wealthy arrive via helicopter and it really has become a major industry. Prince Charles has even played here.

Little Pied Cormorant

One bird in particular was interesting, the Australian Pipit and White Winged Chuffs. Whilst I had seen these on trips out west I had not seen them here and had to refer to my bird books to confirm that they are in fact found across this area too.

After four hours of walking and driving I had a nice list of birds and a nice day out!

History rusting.

Bird list:- Welcome Swallow, Kookaburra, Bell Minor, Australian Magpie, Pee Wee, Willy Wag Tail, Dusky Wood Swallow, Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike, Crested Pigeon, Dusky Moorhen, Pacific Black Duck, Wood Duck, Coot, Black Swan, Little Pied Cormorant, Australian White Ibis, Mallard, Variegated Wren, House Sparrow, Plover, Whiskered Bulbul, Nankeen Kestrel, Great Egret, Australian Pipit, White Faced Heron, Australian Raven, Common Bronzewing, Royal Spoonbill, Cattle Egret, Common Starling, Straw Necked Ibis, White Winged Chuff, Soldier Bird.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kurrajong Hills Ride

This weekends bike ride would take me along the familiar roads from Kurrajong, to East Kurrajong, south  along the Putty  road to Wilberforce and back Via Kurmond. 
Although the Hawkesbury is developing, it still has a wonderful rural feel to it, and the air was fresh  and clean. The ride itself is about 60k and with a few hills thrown in is a good training ride for mountain biking.
Using the road bike has its advantages. They are faster and more responsive than  a fully  sprung mountain bike.  The idea of the road bike is the "put steel in your legs". Thats is, develop more power so that, when you  are on your Mtn Bike you  can stay  in higher gears. The fact is, you  can  get fitter on a road bike quicker.
The only  problem  with a road bike is that there is no opportunity  to get off the road and onto the gravel.

Sadly  the lack of road maintenance  means much  of the edges of the road have broken away. The result? The occasional brush  with a car or truck. So a road bike is more fragile should you have to bail out!
Bird life abounds and I  observed  a white bellied sea eagle being mobbed by magpies. Whilst I know that this bird lives on or near the river, it is always surprising to  see it. Other birds such  as Lewins Honey Eater, Brush Wattlebird and Red Wattlebird, were seen in the bottle brushes that were flowering.
In some areas the sound of Bell minors and Whip birds could be heard.

After 2 and a bit hours I returned home. Its always good to get out and about!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Glossy Black Cockatoos

Yesterday, I took the mountain bike out along one of the trails behind our house. Just after entering the national park, there is a small section of rain forest with casuarina trees dotted about.

I was very excited to see three Glossy Black Cockatoos. These birds, whilst not on endangered lists, are regarded as rare as the sightings must be reported to the National Parks and Wildlife service.

They are an interesting bird, feeding on casuarina, and if so are easily approached. Should they fly off, the do so with low swooping action, and a distinct "Caw" Caw" cry. They generally only fly to an adjacent tree. A splash of distinct red on their tale feathers. Also help with the identification.

I was delighted to see three as it indicated that one was a juvenile. Glossy Blacks are rare as the nest in hollows of trees. Sadly our domestic honey bee also like these hollows. generally moving in and stinging the young when they hatch. As the parents only lay one of two eggs, the failure rate can be very high indeed. Not only this but other pressures. Research was done in South Australia and when the Honey bees were removed from an area, the Glossy Black population increased.

These are one of my favorite birds.