All Quiet on the Home Front
Oddly enough, while August, with 137 species, went on to top the eight-month tally board, avian matters at Allen Road itself remained somewhat on the quiet side. The 46 species recorded here was a whisker below the current 46.8 average; equal to Augusts in 2010 and 2009, above the 39 of 2004, the 44 of 2005 and the 45 of 2008 but below August 2012 , 2003 and 2001 [48 each] and the 49 species of 2011 and 2002. August 2006, with 53 species, remains the only year in which the monthly tally exceeded the 50 mark.
Perhaps not really that odd. It was a month in which Fay and I spread out our wings a little further and while not quite reaching the frenzied heights our halcyon birding days during the 1990s we did put in more bird outings than in the immediate past. Our South Burnet August tally reached new records. We ventured even further afield, Birding Beyond the Pale in the Lockyer Valley and along the Wambo Bird Trails.
All this gallivanting around the ridges had its repercussions on Allen Road. To reach other birding destinations we had to sacrifice at least one of the two days of the weekend. Our habit became to sneak off on Saturdays, leaving Sundays for work on and around the house and property. Further, to enhance our chances of good birding at the intended venue we set off early, usually before sunrise and that immediately impacted on our EARLY BIRDS [part of the Allen Road tally] surveys.
Nevertheless August did manage to provide us with a few species outside the norm. The month opened with the return of the Olive-backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus 2 August. Not that the bird ever really went away; with a few exceptions it was noted throughout the year, even if only rarely in some months or elsewhere in other months.
The Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis is an infrequent visitor to Allen Road during August. This year it put in its solitary appearance on 10 August; the first August sighting of this species in two years and only the seventh August sighting since 2004 – three of those coming in August 2008. It flew across the property, travelling east to west, proffering the narrowest of glimpses.
Two days later the Australian Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles cristatus called. With a notable absence in July, this year the owlet-nightjar has called at least once every month since March.
On 16 August the first of only two raptors to appear over Allen Road during the month, the Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus, [its third appearance of the year] seemed to be experiencing a few difficulties as it was persistently harassed by a small flock of Noisy Miners Manorina melanocephala. It eventually beat a hasty retreat to the northwest. A week later the Brown Falcon Falco berigora put in its first appearance in almost exactly two years, having previously graced our local skies on 7 August 2011- and that had been only its sixth ever showing at Allen Road.
Matters improved marginally towards the end of the month. Fay saw a single Red-winged Parrot Aprosmictus erythropterus on 29 August. The following day the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Acanthagenys rufogularis made its presence known for the first time since early May but the grand finale of the month had to be the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus of 30 August.As I said at the outset, August was rather a quiet month on the birding front.