Centennial Park

Barn Owl back at Centennial Park

Eastern Barn Owls have often been seen in Sydney’s Centennial Park over the last five years; during the day they roost underneath the foliage of Canary Island Date Palms. Numbers in the park seem to be increasing, with a peak count of five birds seen last year. Powerful Owls and the Southern Boobook are also seen in Centennial Park.

The Barn Owl is one of the world’s most widespread birds, found across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. They are well adapted to agricultural areas but their numbers may be increasing in the city too. 

This bird was seen on last week’s winter survey, the first sighting for several months.

Eastern Barn Owl roosting under crown of a Canary Island Date Palm

Eastern Barn Owl roosting under crown of a Canary Island Date Palm

Going, going, gone

The Duck Pond in Sydney’s Centennial Park is a city haven for its water birds and its visitors from the bush in times of drought. It is fed from storm-water runoff and is part of a catchment which feeds the Botany Wetlands extending six kilometers downstream. 

The Duck Pond is home to numerous Hardhead ducks, Eurasian Coots, Black Swans, Australian White Ibis, Pacific Black Ducks, Dusky Moorhens, Darters, Great, Pied, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants, White-faced Herons, Nankeen Night-Herons and Purple Swamphens with total numbers often exceeding 200 birds. Occasional visitors include Black-fronted Dotterel, Royal Spoonbills, Freckled and Pink-eared Ducks, Shovelers and a recent Shelduck.

The pond is also home to European Carp, considered a pest but also food for the water birds. This Great Cormorant has chosen a rather large fish for lunch however managed it well as seen in the photos below. 

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Centennial Park Sydney NSW Bird Survey

The Centennial Parklands and Birding NSW bird survey at Centennial Park started in 2009. It gathers valuable information for park management and the data collected feeds into the national Birdata database run by Birdlife Australia. The survey is conducted four times a year at thirteen sites that are representative of the park’s habitat types. Habitats include Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub, Sandstone Ridge, the large Duck Pond and other pond edges, and melaleuca and pine forest environments.

 The survey counts all bird within a twenty minute period from a set of fixed vantage points to give comparable counts. The total count at the Duck Pond is usually several hundred birds with large numbers of Eurasian Coots, Hardheads and Pacific Black Ducks as well as Cormorants of all types, Ibis, Black Swans, Dusky Moorhens, Pelicans, and Silver Gulls. The park attracts a total list of around 150 species including other water birds, parrots, raptors, pigeons, the larger honeyeaters and some smaller woodland birds, made up by incidental sightings. A highlight last week was the appearance of the Nankeen Night Heron for the survey count.

 After the survey surveyors visit other park inhabitants including breeding pairs of owls and Tawny Frogmouth. The young Powerful Owl pictured below has made good progress and looks to be in good health!  

Young Powerful Owl in Centennial Park

Young Powerful Owl in Centennial Park

Eastern Suburbs Sydney

This morning was a catch up in eastern Sydney. Firstly Centennial Park, an oasis close to the centre of Sydney, gathering place for a surprising number of water birds and some bush birds. Checking on the regulars, there is one of the Tawny Frogmouths, a male, together with this year’s fledgling sitting on a higher branch in the same tree. The Intermediate Egret is on the Lily Pond and the Grey Butcherbird is in position to swoop on passersby. At Kensington Pond I do a standardized two hectare, twenty minute survey. Not many water birds, some Dusky Moorhens and a couple of Eurasian Coots. There are New Holland Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, Spotted Doves and Crested Pigeons as well as the usual collection of Superb Fairy-wrens, Australian Magpies, Australian Ravens and Magpie-larks. Highlight is a Sacred Kingfisher sitting on the far bank close to construction work for the Randwick Golf Course Light Rail Station - still going on.

Then on to Randwick Environment Park, a small park formed in 2010 from 13 hectares that had been previously part of Randwick Army Barracks. The park contains endangered remnant Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub and a wetlands covering several hectares at its centre.  At times this park has attracted unusual birds including Latham’s Snipe, White-necked Heron, Australasian Shovelers, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, and Spangled Drongos. However as this year’s drought kicked in the wetland dried and water birds disappeared. Another standardized survey confirms that Australian Magpies, Red Wattlebirds, Laughing Kookaburras (pictured below) and Noisy Miners have taken control of what is now a totally dry area. The highlight was a Yellow-rumped Thornbill, an uncommon visitor to the park.

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