Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Impromptu Bird Bath

Eastern Rosella (L) and Mallee Ringneck (R)

This year in South Australia we have had well below average rain in many areas. This includes Murray Bridge where I live. A few weeks ago we did have some rain but we are still well below average to this time of the year. Many of the local farmers are desperately in need of a good soaking rain so that they can get on with sowing their cereal crops for this year.

After any substantial amount of rain, several puddles of water form in my driveway. I have intended to fill these hollows with some extra gravel, but now I am not so sure that this is a wise thing to do. Many different species of birds like to have a quick dip in these ephemeral waterholes. 

After the recent rain, the two birds shown in the photo took full advantage of the extra birdbath in my garden. They decided on an impromptu bath and they appeared to really enjoy the extra bathing facilities. They lingered long enough for me to get the camera and take a few photos out through the kitchen window.

The bird on the right is an Australian Ringneck parrot, sub-species Mallee Ringneck. It is a common species in this area and I regard it as a resident bird in my garden. I see - or hear - the five of six resident birds every day. This species has also nested in a hollow of a tree just a few metres from my office where I am writing this. I can hear the birds chattering away as I type.

The bird on the left has a stranger background. This Eastern Rosella is a ring-in. Although it has kept company with the Mallee Ringneck in my garden for the last two years, it is not native to this area. Although it is relatively common in the Adelaide region about 70 kilometres to the west of here, the species there is an introduced one. Their natural range is throughout the eastern states of Australia and through to the south-east of South Australia. I have concluded that, although they may be extending their range, I suspect that this individual has either escaped from someone's aviary, or it was released by someone locally.

Whatever the reason, I love seeing this beautiful bird in my garden.

For more stories about and photos of Australian birds go to Trevor's Birding here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

World Environment Day

Eastern Rosella

2018 World Environment Day

I haven't posted here in quite some time due to family reasons. Now that life is settling down again for me, I intend posting more often and hopefully more regularly than in times past.

Today is World Environment Day. I can't recall ever posting anything special on this day, so this could be a first for me. I really enjoy the Australian environment where I live. My home is on the edge of a large country town in South Australia. A significant part of my property is covered in natural scrubland, so I am aware of the birdlife in particular on a daily basis. I always have my camera at the ready.

Last week while I was washing the dishes, I looked out the window to where I have placed several bird baths. In the warmer months of the year, there is a steady progression of birds coming for a drink or a bath. Over the years, this proximity to the bird life of my garden has been a source of much pleasure. It has also allowed me to get a good collection of wonderful photos.

Even in the cooler months, there is an occasional visit to the bird baths. The Eastern Rosella shown above and below was one such individual last week. It took its time having a drink so I was able to fetch my camera and get several lovely photos.

Eastern Rosellas are not native to this part of South Australia. It is a common species in the eastern states of Australia and they do occur naturally in the south-east of our state. They have been introduced to the Adelaide region which is about 80 kilometres west of my home. Either they are extending their range, or this individual has escaped from someone's aviary. I have seen it almost daily for the last few years, so it must consider my garden as its home.

Eastern Rosella, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Eastern Rosella, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Another visit to Ku Ring Gai Wildflowers Gardens

Striated Thornbill

Whenever we travel to Sydney to visit family there, my wife and I try to get to the Ku Ring Gai Wildflower Gardens in the northern suburbs. It is about a 25-minute drive from my son's home. 

We enjoy visiting these gardens for three reasons:
  • Some of the gardens have been planted and this area interests my wife.
  • Much of the rest of this large property is near to how the original forest and scrubland would have looked.
  • The whole area is a haven for the local birdlife - and that interests me.
Run by the local council, entrance to the extensive gardens is free. There is a very informative Visitor Centre with a small bookshop and plant nursery, and the staff are very helpful. Guided tours are available to visiting groups. There are many walking and cycling trails throughout the gardens.

On our last visit a few weeks ago, we spent about three hours exploring several areas and walking trails. Although I made a good list of birds seen during our visit, and many of them were calling frequently, I was disappointed that most of the birds were shy about coming out into the open. My camera did not get much a workout. 

The only reasonable photo of a bird is the one above of a Striated Thornbill - and it's not a particularly good photo at that. So instead of trying to spend all day chasing birds hiding in the foliage, I aimed my camera at some of the wildflowers out in bloom. You can see some of those photos below.

And I have added a photo of a butterfly as a bonus.

To read more about Australian birds, visit my other site Trevor's Birding.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

A hungry Pied Currawong

Pied Currawong

Over the last few posts here I have written about some of the birds I saw and photographed while in Sydney earlier this year. My wife and I were visiting our son and his family. During our four-week stay, we took every opportunity to get out and about visiting some of the nearby parks.

On one family picnic at Lane Cove National Park, our five-year-old grand-daughter was exploring a walking track with Nanna. They were looking for flowers on the native plants. Suddenly, a Pied Currawong landed in the tree only a few metres from the path. It began eating something it was clutching in its claws.

Next thing, I see my grand-daughter running back up the path towards me. She explained that they had seen a currawong and that I should come quickly to have a look. I walked as quickly as my old legs could carry me, camera at the ready. The currawong was quite unconcerned about me taking photos just four or five metres away.

I couldn't see exactly what it had in its claws, but it kind of looked like a piece of bread. About 50 metres away in another picnic area down the hill, I could see several families also having barbeque picnics. Obviously, they had thrown a piece of bread to feed the currawong - or maybe it had snatched a piece from their picnic table. Only a little while earlier a kookaburra had snatched a sausage from the very hot barbeque plate we were using (you can read about it here). 

My Australian readers should be advised that it is dangerous to the birds and animals to feed them human food. It is not good for them. Visitors to Lane Cove National Park are warned about this via plaques on every picnic table. Unfortunately, many of the birds have learned to be sneaky and easily snatch human food - as we found out with that cheeky kookaburra.

You can read more about Australian birds, and see many more photos of them on my other site, Trevor's Birding

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Grey Butcherbird

Family picnic at Lane Cove National Park, Sydney

Earlier this year my wife and I spent a few weeks in Sydney looking after our two grandchildren. This was during the recent school holidays there. We had a ball with our 8-year-old grandson and 5-year-ol grand-daughter. They are great fun and so full of life. They are also taking an interest in our native birds - I wonder how that interest has developed?

On the second last day of our stay, we went on a family picnic. We drove a short distance to one of our favourite places - Lane Cove National Park, about a ten-minute drive from home. We cooked some sausages on the barbeque (see photo above) and had the misadventure of having some of our lunch stolen by the local kookaburras

After lunch, I managed to indulge in a little bird photography. One of the local Grey Butcherbirds came to investigate what we were up to, and it posed nicely for me in the afternoon sun. While this is a widespread species in South Australia where we live, I can't really call it a resident species in our garden. It is more of an occasional visitor. 

In Sydney, however, I see or hear it nearly every day when staying with my family. I have also recorded it as present in many places we have visited in the Sydney region over the years. 

Unlike the Laughing Kookaburras, this butcherbird was not interested in snatching our lunch. It kept a keen eye on the ground for possible tasty pickings - such as small skinks, butterflies, bugs, beetles and other insects.

You can read more about Australian birds on my other site Trevor's Birding.

Grey Butcherbird

Friday, May 26, 2017

Laughing Kookaburras

Laughing Kookaburra

The Australian Laughing Kookaburra is probably one our most easily recognised birds. This large member of the kingfisher family is found in many parts of Australia and is easily identified by its rollicking, joyous call. The photos I have included in today's post were all taken on a recent holiday in Sydney.

My wife and I spent the whole of the April school holidays with our son and family. We were there to help look after our two grandchildren when they weren't at school. It's a tough gig - but we enjoyed it. Thankfully, they love going on picnics with Nanna and Grandad. Several times we drove the short distance to Lane Cove National Park. It was on these visits that I managed to take this series of photos.

Like many in the kingfisher family, these birds are often found near water courses. They are, however, also found far from water and we occasionally have them visit our garden at home which is about 4 km from a river. I was just checking my records a few days ago and it has been many years since a kookaburra visited our garden. 

There are many Laughing Kookaburras in the park where I took these photos. While they will take food provided by humans, this is strongly discouraged; there are signs on all the picnic tables stating this. This did not stop one of the kookaburras snatching our lunch. It took a sausage right off a hot barbeque plate! Cheeky bird.

Many Australians do not realise that we have two species of kookaburras. The other one is the Blue-winged Kookaburra of northern Australia. As yet I do not have a photo of that species. (Don't be confused by the blue on the wing of today's photos - the Blue-winged Kookaburra has a lot more blue on the wing.)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Noisy Miners

Noisy Miner - an Australian native honeyeater

My wife and I recently spent a few weeks in Sydney. We travel the 1300 kilometres to Sydney several times a year. These visits usually now often coincide with the school holidays. We go to look after our two grandchildren. It is a trip we always enjoy undertaking, not just because of spending time with the children, but also so we can explore the country along the way, and on the return trip.

While in Sydney we often go out to nearby parks or national parks. It is fun exploring such places with the children. They are so eager to observe and learn about the natural environment. Naturally, they take an interest in plants and flowers which are my wife's main interest. I am also pleased that they are quite knowledgeable about our native birds. I wonder where that comes from?

On one of these visits to the natural environment near to their home, I took the above photo of a Noisy Miner. This is one of our many species of honeyeaters here in Australia. Their name is truly apt, especially if there is a bird of prey nearby. They certainly know how to create a noisy response to any danger.

Some Australian bird lovers do not really like this species. In some places, they are very common and bossy. Their belligerent attitude often forces smaller species out of gardens and parks. Species such as fairywrens, finches, pardalotes and thornbills move on to other areas, much to some people's annoyance.

For more photos and stories about Australian birds, please visit my other site Trevor's Birding.