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Keep your eyes peeled…

Spring, time to do the bird surveys at Swallow Lagoon Reserve, a perfect day, cloudless, warm, and calm. As we walked into site one Gouldiae remarked ” a good day for snakes” or words to that effect. “Yes” I replied and thought no more about it, in nearly six years of work in this reserve we’ve only seen one snake, a medium sized Eastern Brown in one of the grassy areas. In fact reptiles of all descriptions have always seemed thin on the ground, even small skinks are rarely seen, too many kookaburras perhaps. Site one was good with seventeen species logged, and then we moved on to site two. I’d nearly completed a lap, and still searching the tree tops I reached the big stump that marks the site, to hear an audible flurry in the grass beside me. From past experience I knew what it had to be, and a quick glance to my right revealed a very large and lively brown snake moving fast away from me, in only a few seconds it disappeared into a cavity in the stump. I called to my mate to acquaint him of the fact, and we both agreed that from then on it would be a good plan to keep our eyes on the ground while moving from point to point. I must say I was happy that the brown decided to exit stage right, as I’m carrying an injury at the moment and rapid evasive movement is completely out of the question….. Close encounters with snakes while moving quietly through the bush with one’s gaze directed upwards are not uncommon, I could tell stories about the big tiger, the alpine copperhead, the red-bellied black, etc. etc., it’s a thing that birders should keep in mind during the warm months. It wasn’t the end of the snakey story either, at site seven, a grassy site, I was paying close attention to the ground and yes, another brown, small this time but very lively and moving fast away from me.
We saw birds too of course, G noted that after every survey we’ve got a story to tell, ie. interesting observations. It was so this time, we logged Sacred Kingfishers at four of the twelve sites, Scarlet Robins at two, one pair with dependent young, a very nice flock of Varied Sittellas working through three adjacent trees, and Spotted Pardalotes and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters at nearly every site. Thornbills were scarce compared with previous surveys, a few brown and a couple each of striated and yellow-rumped, we didn’t sight buff-rumps or yellows at all. Noisy Miners were again in very small numbers, just two or three at two sites on the margin. Conditions are good for the birds, all the dams are full and there is an abundance of insect life. Forty species in all for the two hundred hectares of dry forest.
A pair of spotted pards was keeping a very close watch on us while we ate lunch, a few photos were managed from the comfort of my chair.

spotted pardalote


spotted pardalote

Click to enlarge

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