Birds and Brunch at Jerrabomberra Wetlands

Jerrabomberra Wetlands (, 4 kilometres from Canberra’s city centre, is an area of pools, waterways and grasslands teeming with native and migrating birds. The former agricultural lands were regularly subject to flooding.  The filling of Lake Burley Griffin and the work of the Jerrabomberra Wetlands Trust has transformed them into a wonderful resource for Canberrans.

282On Sunday 18 October I went to ‘Birds and Brunch’, one of the activities initiated by the Jerrabomberra Wetlands Trust. We were the first group to participate in this activity. Our escorts were Lori Gould, the Programme Manager of Jerrabomberra Wetlands, and Philip Veerman of the Canberra Ornithologist Group.

In the quiet morning, nine of us, armed with binoculars, strolled around for an hour, stopping at three of the five bird-watching hides and at other strategic points – in the woodlands and grasslands, and on a boardwalk through the reeds. The hides and the boardwalk provided close-up views of birds; and being with other people, especially an expert like Philip, helped to sight them and to learn more about their appearance and habits.

From the hides we spotted a great variety of wading birds. As well as the usual black swans (and their286 cygnets), coots, purple swamp hens, ibis, pied cormorants and several kinds of duck, we were excited to see red-kneed dotterels and Latham’s snipe, a summer visitor from Japan and China. In the woodlands, reeds and grasslands, we saw superb blue wrens, reed warblers, a family of black cockatoos, a sacred kingfisher, golden whistler, red-rumped parrots and a cisticola, a pretty little yellow-breasted bird with a burring call. We would never have noticed many of these birds on our own.

280Lori provided excellent back-up with books and pictures of the birds we spotted, and explanations of the history of the area, of the complex pressures from the urban developments at Kingston and the industrial run-off from Fyshwick and of the work of the Wetlands Trust and the ACT Government. At the end of our guided walk, we repaired to the function room to debrief over a great breakfast of fruit, muesli, pastries, toast, tea and coffee.

A novel

I’m currently working on a mystery/romance novella set on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain.

The narrative includes some contemporary events of June-July 2012: Spain’s borrowing of ten billion euros from the EU Central Bank, her win over Italy in European Cup, and the real-life theft and subsequent recovery of a medieval manuscript from the Cathedral at Santiago; as well as historical facts and events. These include the first-to-fourth-century Roman exploitation of gold in Northern Spain, the Battle of Roncesvalles, the return of warrior monks from the Crusades, the Spanish Conquistadors’ departure to South America, the 1835 confiscation and reallocation of monastery property, the miners’ strike in Asturias of 1934 and its repression by Franco, and the Eurovision Song Contest held in Madrid in March 1969.