Upset New Holland Honeyeaters

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

Last week my wife and I were sitting on our back veranda having lunch. We were enjoying a brief burst of spring weather and the sun was most welcome. We have had a long stretch of very cold, showery, wintery weather for well over a month, so the change was very much appreciated.

I often have my binoculars at the ready in case I want to check out any of the many birds we see in our garden. Sometimes I even have my camera at the ready, too. As we were enjoying a cup of tea after lunch, a flock of about a dozen New Holland Honeyeaters set up a terrible racket in the bushes about ten metres from where we were sitting. I immediately thought that their warning calls meant that there was a bird of prey in the sky overhead, or else it was in the trees nearby.

On looking around, and checking the sky, I could not see any evidence of anything they could be getting upset over. All of the honeyeaters kept calling and fluttering around, obviously quite agitated by something on the ground. I cautiously walked towards them. They took no notice of my presence and kept calling loudly.

Snake!

A metre long Eastern Brown Snake was trying to stay inconspicuous in the shadows, but I caught a glimpse of it as it made its escape into the undergrowth – and away from the keen eyes of the resident honeyeaters. I slowly made my retreat, intent on not getting too close to one of the world’s deadliest reptiles right there in our garden.

Every summer we usually see one or two Brown Snakes in our garden, on our five-acre property, or crossing the road leading to our home. We usually give them a wide berth when we see one and never try to get too close. They don’t bother us and we don’t bother them. I prefer to let them be because not only are they protected under our laws, they also do us the service of keeping mice and rat numbers down to a manageable level. My only concern was that this was rather early in spring for our first sighting; summer won’t start until December.

I guess that we will have to keep an eye out for them in the coming months. Proceed with caution.

Further reading:

Eastern Brown Snake at our bird bath

Eastern Brown Snake at our bird bath

An unusual visitor

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Garden Birds

On my database, I record the birds I see in our garden, or on our five-acre block, or flying overhead. I have done this every month for well over 30 years now. In more recent times, I have started recording them on a weekly, and sometimes daily, occasions. This has built up a great base of information about the birds we have resident (present every day), regular visitors (every few weeks or months) and occasional (perhaps one or two sightings a year). So far, the tally is over 110 different species. (I don’t know the exact figure because my database is not quite up to date.)

Rare Visitors

Surprisingly, one of the rarer occasional visitors is the Laughing Kookaburra. This species is widespread throughout southern and eastern Australia and is common in many places. It is a widespread species here in the Murray Bridge region of South Australia too, especially along the Murray River. Despite that, it is a rare visitor to our garden. In fact, until a few weeks ago, our last sighting was just over ten years ago.

Harassment

The individual which paid us a recent visit did not have a good time. As I was getting some photos – shown on today’s post – a Grey Currawong kept on harassing it until it flew off in disgust at the poor welcoming party. I guess that the Currawong chased the kookaburra away to discourage it from visiting its nest, though I have not seen any evidence of the Grey Currawongs nesting so far this year. The Currawong itself is not slow about robbing the nests of other birds, either.

Further Reading:

Grey Currawong

Grey Currawong

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Spring – where are you?

Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo

Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo

It is supposed to be spring here in southern Australia.

The calendar says so, but the weather is not cooperating. Since the beginning of “spring” at the start of September, the weather has been anything but spring-like. In fact, it has been decidedly wintery for the whole month. And August was no better. This year both August and September (so far) have been like the winter we didn’t have earlier on. We had more than double our monthly average rainfall in August and this month looks like going the same way.

To be fair – the earlier months this year were very dry. Large parts of South Australia were heading for a drought, along with other parts of eastern Australia which are still in severe drought. The farmers need all the rain they can get to establish their crops and pastures. The environment also needs the seasonal rains. During the earlier parts of winter, we had very cold nights and lovely sunny days. Now we still have very cold nights – and cold showery days as well. It hasn’t been good weather to get out birding.

A sign of Spring on the way?

A few days ago – on a brief few moments out in the garden between showers and wind gusts – I managed to both hear, and then get good views of, a Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo (see photo above). This species spends autumn and winter in the north of Australia and migrates south to breed around this time of the year.

The 14 species of cuckoos present in Australia are parasitic breeders. They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, including thornbills, wrens and a range of other species. The parent cuckoos leave all the incubation, feeding and raising of the young to the host species. You could say that they have perfected the art of “out-sourcing” parenthood.

Further reading:

Happy 12th Birthday to Trevor’s Birding

Peaceful Dove

Peaceful Doves are a regular visitor in our garden

Happy Birthday!

Today marks the 12th anniversary of Trevor’s Birding.

It is hard to imagine that 12 years have passed since I started on this amazing journey. I had no idea at the time where it would take me.

Oh, the places I’ve been,
And the birds I have seen,
From the parrots and doves,
And the eagles above.

To ravens and crows
And finches in rows,
The lorikeets too
And kingfishers blue –
I’ve noted them all
Both big and so small.

My camera has taken
A wide range of birds,
Shown here on this blog
Along with my words.

Yes – I’ve been birding in many places on four continents and in seven countries: Australia, Thailand, Nepal, Ethiopia, Morocco, Spain and Malaysia. Many of the photos taken have been shared here on this site. I hope there will be many more in the years to come.

I have written over 1750 articles over those years and I am planning far more in the years to come. I have no idea how many photos I have taken, nor how many I have shared here on this site. I know that I have taken well over 10,000 photos on my camera. I estimate that I have probably shown about 4000 of them here.

On the strength of what I have written here and the photos I have shared, I have had many requests by various groups to be a guest speaker about birds. This is something I really enjoy and hope to do more of in the years to come.

Instead of writing about a particular bird today, I am going to finish this article by posting some of my favourite photos.

Enjoy.

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

 

Silver Gull, Pt Elliot, South Australia

Silver Gull, Pt Elliot, South Australia

 

Noisy Miner

Noisy Miner

 

Female Galah, Laratinga Wetlands

Female Galah, Laratinga Wetlands

 

Sacred Kingfisher

Sacred Kingfisher

 

Beautiful Mallee Ringneck Parrots

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Over recent years we have had a family of Australian Ringneck parrots move into our garden. Before that, they were only occasional visitors, but now we see – or hear – them every day. They can be raucous at times. I now consider them to be a resident breeding species in our garden. In fact, only last week I witnessed two of them mating, so we could have even more around in the next few months. They have been constantly investigating a large hollow in one of our mallee trees. The birds we have here are the sub-species Mallee Ringnecks.

At first, we only had two birds, but after breeding, there were more, and now we often count up to about eight birds in our garden, or in the nearby mallee scrub. They chatter away noisily in the nearby trees, often disturbing the peacefulness of our edge of town block of land. We don’t really mind because we love having them around. That is – until they attack our ripening pears, chewing around the stems of each piece of fruit. Each summer I have to drape netting over the trees to minimise the damage.

Last week I was going out the sliding door on to our back veranda. I was heading out to sit in the weak winter sun to do some reading. One of the parrots flew from the nearby tree towards the house just as I came out of the door. It was flying directly towards me, wings and tail spread out fan-like as it came to a stop, landing on the edge of the roof guttering. As the feathers spread out, I glimpsed the beautiful colours of this lovely bird. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera – it happened far too quickly, anyway.

The photo at the top of this post shows the colourful feathers of one of our birds which accidentally flew into my office window last year. It sat on the ground quite stunned for a few minutes before flying off again. The photo below shows another shot of the same bird.

Further reading:

 

Australian Ringneck parrot

Australian Ringneck parrot