Birding on the Town Common

On Saturday I was lucky enough to visit the Town Common with a small group which included two keen, knowledgeable birders. Thanks to them, we ended up with a list of more than 50 species from Red-backed Wrens and Spice Finches (10 cm) to Jabirus and Brolgas  (130 cm). We were happy that we spotted so many in just a couple of hours but I should note, just for context, that about 280 have been recorded on the Common.

We drove in past the golf club, visiting Payet’s Tower and the two nominated viewing points on the way to Freshwater bird hide, with a few unscheduled stops as one or another of us spotted birds from the vehicle. There is still a fair bit of open water on the Common and we saw substantial numbers of Magpie Geese, including about 150 in a single flock near the Pandanus viewing point. We briefly visited the Pallarenda Conservation Park, too, adding the Orange-footed Scrub Fowl, Scrub Turkey and others to our list.

Here are some of my photographs from the morning.

Crimson Finch
Crimson Finch, Neochmia phaeton, female
Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae)
Black-faced Cuckooshrike, Coracina novaehollandiae
Osprey (Pandion cristatus)
Osprey (Pandion cristatus) on its amazingly bulky nest
Osprey (Pandion cristatus)
Osprey (Pandion cristatus) landing in a tree near Payet’s Tower
magpie goose
Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) coming in for an untidy landing on the lagoon
brolga
One of a pair of Brolgas, Grus rubicunda, seen browsing near the Pandanus viewing point

Ducasse banana seed – an exceptionally rare find

As most of us know, all of our cultivated bananas are sterile clones and those little black dots in the middle of the fruit are immature seeds which will never develop. Getting a real seed out of a cultivated banana is a really rare event, as we realise immediately when we think about how many bananas we have eaten and how few seeds we have found.

I have been growing Ducasse (sugar) bananas in my back yard for twenty-odd years, occasionally with other varieties, and I hadn’t come across a mature seed in all those years until six weeks ago when I found one seed in each of two bananas from the same bunch. One seed crunched between my teeth but I managed to save the other – roundish, blackish and about 4mm long. Continue reading “Ducasse banana seed – an exceptionally rare find”

Home solar update after seven years

The rooftop PV system we installed seven years ago has just passed another good round number – 16 000 KWh – having produced 4 000 KWh since my last update, in September 2016.

The daily average in that period is therefore 5.9 KWh/day, a little lower than the average of the first five years.  The drop in output is so small that it’s not really worth worrying about but three explanations come to mind, and all may have contributed to it:

  • We don’t bother cleaning the panels, so full-sun output may have dropped;
  • Our trees have kept on growing, so the panels may be shaded for longer, especially in winter;
  • The period we are considering includes two full Wet seasons but not quite two full Dry seasons (the month-by-month variation is shown here).

How much money are we saving now?

Continue reading “Home solar update after seven years”

Blue-winged Kookaburras come to dinner

Neighbours have been welcoming a pair of Blue-winged Kookaburras (Dacelo leachii) to their garden recently and invited us over to say hello. Our feathered friends appeared on cue, “cue” being a few lumps of mince placed on the pool fence for them, and allowed me to take a few photos.

The most visible differences between the sexes is the colour of the tail feathers – blue for boys and red-brown for girls.

Blue-winged Kookaburra
Male Blue-winged Kookaburra

Continue reading “Blue-winged Kookaburras come to dinner”

Birds in the ‘burbs – Mundingburra and Kelso

A few years ago I began compiling a list of all the birds I have seen at home in Mundingburra, posting it to the blog as a separate page and keeping it up to date as I saw new species. Ian Walters has been maintaining a similar list in Kelso, about three kilometres from the river and four from the Ross Dam wall, a long way up-river from me and a little further from the river, and I thought it would be interesting to compare observations.

In the table below I have listed each family group in the sequence [only Mundingburra] – [both] – [only Kelso]. If you want to see photos, links in the species column will take you to my photos (mostly here on the blog) but you will need to visit Ian’s page at speciesorchids.com/LocalFriends to see his.

What does the comparison show us?

A very quick look reveals that there are more species from Kelso than from Mundingburra – about 75:50 – but that we do have a lot in common.

Ian has far more finches and parrots than I have, as we might have expected because he is closer to open grassland (food source for both families) and has more mature tress which provide nesting hollows for the parrots. He also has more water-birds, partly because he is relatively close to the dam but also because he has a small creek running (after rain, at least) across the back of his property. Continue reading “Birds in the ‘burbs – Mundingburra and Kelso”