Cook’s Tour.

The Cook’s River Cycleway is one of those underrated Sydney classics: a 30km mostly off-road cycle path (give or take, and depending on where you consider the start and the end), that wends its way between many different landscapes – from industrial wastelands to landscaped parklands and Casuarina groves, mostly hugging one of Australia’s most polluted rivers! At times ugly and smelly, at times beautiful. Very Sydney!

On a strangely cool December day, Bramanda rode about half of it, and saw quite a few birds.

Starting with a mystery: we confess… we don’t know who this is. We would love it if anyone could reply with a identification of this bird.

Australian Pied Cormorants and Australian Pelicans were using the inflatable pollution booms as a lilo:

Magpie-lark Dad was showing his two fledglings how to forage in the mud, but they were noisily more intent on being fed, rather than learning to feed themselves:

A family of Australian Wood Ducks:

This fluffy young Pied Currawong was also being shown the ropes by a parent:

A pair of sleepy, fledgling Noisy Miner siblings hunkered together for warmth in the cool breeze. It made me sleepy just watching them:

At Boat Harbour (a tiny man-made dock that once served the historic sugar-mill) a pair of Tawny Frogmouths were roosting. We had heard that this family of Frogmouths were something of a fixture at Boat Harbour, so we were pleased to spot them on our visit.

At Beaman Park, a flock of Eastern Rosellas was feeding:

In Gough Whitlam Park, a Little Pied Cormorant dried his wings and was none too happy that I had interrupted him:

Also in Gough Whitlam Park, we happened upon this lovely Striated Heron, waiting for passing fish. As is always the way when we encounter Striated Herons, we spent ages here in the hope of him doing his “amazing telescopic neck” thing… sadly no luck this time:

Even though the fish were tiny by his standards – we’ve seen Striateds deal with much bigger catches – he seemed to be catching enough to make it worthwhile:

Birds Walk

Warriewood Wetlands Walk.

On another visit to Warriewood Wetlands and the adjacent Irrawong Falls we spotted a number of species.

The Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos):

The Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera):

The White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris niger):

The Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus):

Dusky Moorhen chicks (Gallinula tenebrosa):

The White-browed Scrub-wren (Sericornis frontalis) :

The Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus) – not great pictures, but the best that we have ever been able to get!

The Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys) – collecting lerp which is clearly visible in the second shot:

Also a juvenile Bell Miner who posed so well for us:

An Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta) fishing:

Then across to Irrawong Falls:

An Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis):

A Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis):

Then on a side-trek to Turrimetta Headland, another Silvereye giving a loud, lengthy and conspicuous song:


View From A Bridge.

On one of our regular Lockdown Constitutionals, we sat on a shady bench a little downstream from Ryde Bridge. Amanda noticed that in the distance, a Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) was making regular trips back and forth between the northern river bank and the wooden crash-buffers under the bridge. Even with the telephoto lens, we were too far away to be certain of what the Gull was doing, so on our next walk we changed our usual route to walk over the western side of the bridge, from where we could take a look.

For bridge nuts, Ryde Bridge is a pair of bridges. The older, western bridge that carries northbound traffic is a heritage-listed steel Pratt truss bridge opened in 1935 (with a now inoperable lifting span), and it is from this bridge that we were able to get some unusual bird’s-eye views of some nesting Silver Gulls and their chicks.

On our first crossing, Gull Family No. 1 had an already fairly advanced chick. The chick seemed to have inherited the nest, and the parent sat on an adjacent pile.

On closer inspection, it looks like there had been at least two chicks. We think this chick is lying on the dead body of a sibling (!)

A stretch of his wing…

On a nearby cluster of seven piles, another gull was sitting on the nest.

And, by leaning out uncomfortably over the rail of the bridge, we could see the gull that Amanda had seen from the bank. She had built her nest in the protected recess of a rotting cross-member directly below:

A week later, we returned.
The first chick had grown a little:

The parent was still keeping watch from an adjacent pile:

Gulls 2 and 3 were still sitting on the nest with no signs of any developments:

A week later again, and sadly Gull Family 1 were no longer around. Young gulls grow up fast – but not that fast. We assumed that the chick was predated by some other bird.

But in happier news, Mum 2 had hatched a chick!

At Gull No. 3’s cross-member, there was also a chick! Unlike the chick on the cramped top of No. 2’s pole, this chick was using the more expansive real estate to waddle up and down, though never too far from Mum.

Returning for a fourth week, we were pleased to see that Mum No. 2 had hatched Chick No. 2:

Gull No. 3 was still on her cross-member:

The Chick was looking more grown.

We then realised there two chicks!

And another surprise; as well as the two chicks, there was an egg still on the go: hopefully Mum No. 3 will raise three chicks.

As we were leaving we noticed another gull making regular back and forth trips to collect nesting material. Which is where it all began…