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Alpine Birds Plants: Natural History Studies Trip Report

Conditions in the alps and subalps, in common with the entire south-eastern region, are severely droughted and flowering, while widespread, is of lower intensity than usual for this time of year. Annual herbs in particular were sparse and insect life is accordingly affected, in turn providing reduced food for birds. On the other hand the very recent fires immediately to the south in Victoria and along the Geehi River section of the Alpine Way have undoubtedly created drought refugees in the high country.

The trip included birding:

* on the property Bimblegumbie (9km north of Jindabyne);

Unusual Cormorant Nesting on Rock
* the Thredbo River from just below Leatherbarrel Creek to Thredbo, at Bullock Flat and at the old park entrance station below Sawpit Creek;

* the Alpine Way circuit via Tom Groggin campground, Khancoban, Cabramurra, Kiandra and Adaminaby;

* the Charlottes Pass area.

Bird highlights included:

* at Bimblegumbie, several Satin Flycatcher pairs, including at least one feeding dependent young. White-winged Trillers ­ apparently transients ­ also feeding young, and fledgling Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes and Dusky Woodswallows;

* also at Bimblegumbie, unexpected Diamond Firetails, a threatened species in NSW;

Our Wonderful Group 2007
* a pair of very conspicuous Olive Whistlers, probably nesting, along the Thredbo River above Thredbo;

* pair of Great Cormorants nesting on a rock in Spencers Creek at 1750m asl, a most unusual record;

* at Khancoban sewage ponds, a Nankeen Night-heron and Black-faced and Red-kneed Dotterels;

* at Tom Groggin camp ground, at least 60 low-flying White-throated Needletails;

* apparent drought refugees included a Noisy Friarbird in Snow Gums at Charlottes Pass, 1800m asl, and a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater in wet montane streamside forest at Leatherbarrel Creek picnic area.

In addition to birds, the presence of Robin Murray and the excellent new ‘Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia’ meant that they were also on the agenda. Stars here included some very dramatic and beautiful animals, including Red and Blue Damselfly (Xanthagrion erythroneuron), Metallic Green Damselfly (Austrolestes cingulatus), Alpine Darner (Austroaeschna flavomaculata), Yellow-striped Hunter (Austrogomphus guerini) and Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum).

Report by Ian Fraser leading for Follow That Bird

Follow That Bird   Phone: 61 2 9973 1865
Fax: 61 2 9973 1875
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Avalon NSW 2107
Sydney Australia
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Photos of Variegated Fairy-wren and Little Tern courtesy of Neil Fifer