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Jan 6: Going the extra mile, and not going the extra mile

Hugh Possingham is Chief Scientist at The Nature Conservancy, and a Professor of Biology and Mathematics at the University of Queensland. In the unlikely event he should find himself out of a job, maybe he should consider bird guiding. He went the extra mile today, meeting me at 0450 at Sherwood Arboretum for a morning’s birding. White-headed Pigeon was the bird I was after, and literally seconds after getting out the car, one called from a tree not far into the park from where we stood. Primarily a rainforest species, they wander widely but are never particuarly common or predictable in their appearance. Hugh had seen one the previous evening so I was keen to connect with the species while the opportunity was there. We eventually saw the calling bird, and then another four flew over, a bumper morning for the species. With the key bird in the bag, I relaxed and enjoyed a lovely morning’s birding in what is essentially a suburban park.

Having birded Sherwood Arboretum many times, Hugh knows the place intimately, and he pointed out a spot where Pale-vented Bush-hen is reliable, and sure enough a bird called briefly. The third year tick was to come in the form of a Long-billed Corella. There was a straggly corella flock around all morning, but they eventually came down to ground and began feeding as a tighter group. There were several larger corellas with lots of pink around the face and on the chest. But most had bills that were rather too short for Long-billed, and were probably Long-billed x Little Corella hybrids. Eventually we got onto one bird that looked really good for pure Long-billed.

On the way back home, I drove past Oxley Creek Common, and half thought about trying for Australian Kestrel and Peregine, both of which had been seen in the past few days but that I still needed for the year. I elected not to take the half hour walk to Jabiru swamp where the birds are usually seen on pylons, but instead lazily decided to scope the pylons from the main road. I was handsomely rewarded with a smart Peregrine sitting on one of the pylons, but couldn’t see any kestrels.

My year list at the end of the day was 151 species. I spent 1 hour 54 minutes birding, walked 2.319 km and drove 31.4 km.