That’s not what I expected

Lane Cove National Park

Picnic area in Lane Cove National Park, Sydney

Yesterday, my wife and I took our two grandchildren, ages 8 and 5, on a picnic. We are currently staying with them here in Sydney during the school holidays. They are very energetic children and they needed to run off a little steam, so we took a picnic lunch, some balls, my binoculars, my grandson’s binoculars(he is starting to develop an interest in birds), our folding chairs, my camera and a thermos for a cuppa. And some treats from our favourite local bakery.

Lane Cove National Park

We drove the short 10-minute journey to this wonderful national park, just a short distance west of Chatswood. We set up for our picnic and enjoyed some barbecued sausages and the treats from the bakery. It was a clear day with the temperature in the mid-20s – perfect for a picnic. After lunch, we involved the children in a few games. These included searching for various natural objects such as finding three different kinds of leaves. They were quite entertained, especially when I suggested some running races. They are both excelling at Little Athletics so they enjoyed making up a short course and getting me to time their efforts while I had my cuppa. Too easy.

Slow birding

Meanwhile, the birding side of things was rather slow. Sure, the obligatory Laughing Kookaburras were perched nearby, just waiting for an opportunity to sweep down and snatch our food (see photos below). Small flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets streaked overhead, or squabbled noisily in nearby flowering gum trees (eucalypts). We heard the occasional Pied Currawong calling, along with several Australian Ravens. Two Australian Black-backed Magpies were quietly feeding on the grassed area opposite us, and I heard a number of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters in the nearby trees, though I did not get a good look at them. All very quiet and peaceful – just right for a relaxing afternoon.

An unexpected bird

Just as I was finishing my cuppa, a small flock of Noisy Miners (a native honeyeater species) started calling very noisily near the top of a nearby tree. I stood up and moved closer, training my binoculars on the spot where a hawk-like bird had landed. It was being severely harassed by the miners. I raised my binoculars and immediately identified it as a Pacific Baza. I had a good view for several seconds, long enough to identify it and to take a few photos before it flew off.

Photos

Alas.

My camera was twenty metres away on the picnic table next to where I had been sitting – so no photos.

Botheration!

In my haste to see the bird, I had clean forgotten to pick up my camera. This is rather sad because I would have loved to have taken a photo of this species. This is only the second time I can recall seeing this bird; the other time was several decades ago in northern New South Wales, well before I started bird photography. I cannot be absolutely sure about this earlier sighting because all of my notebooks are at home, some 1400 km or two days’ drive away.

Pacific Baza

This species is found along the coastal regions of New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and northern Western Australia. It is quite common locally but on this occasion, I only saw the one individual. This is about the southernmost extension of its range, and they are rarely sighted south of Sydney.

They are one of Australia’s easiest hawk species to identify, with a small crest and bright stripes across their chest. You can see several photos here, as well as more information about the species.

Meanwhile, here are two photos of the Laughing Kookaburras which sat watching our food in the hope of snatching something.

Good birding,

Trevor

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

More about Crested Pigeons

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

In my last two posts (here and here), I wrote about a small flock of Crested Pigeons which I photographed last month. This was on a short weekend stay in the Brighton Caravan Park in the southern parts of Adelaide in South Australia. This small group of pigeons came near to us while we were sitting outside our caravan having lunch on one of the days. They stayed long enough for me to quietly go into the caravan to get my camera and then back to my seat to take some photos.

All the time I was shooting them, they sat on the grass only a few metres away. Several of them were enjoying the dripping tap which was connected to the hose leading to our van. It was a warm day and the birds even sat in a small puddle of water on the concrete slab around the tap. For the rest of the time, they were either sitting on the grass sunning themselves, or pecking away at the grass all around our site.

I have found over the years of photographing birds that this species is often very easy to approach. They are generally not all that scared of humans nearby. In caravan parks, they are even easier to get close to than normally because they are used to large numbers of people all around, as well as plenty of car, bike and scooter movements. None of this seems to frighten them, making them easy to observe up close and also to photograph them. All very convenient to likes of me with my camera.

One of the disappointments of this set of photos (and those in the previous two posts), is that the iridescent colours on the wings do not really show up well. When the sunlight is coming in at the correct angle, the colours shine up brilliantly. What does show up in the photos today is the striping on the wings of the birds. At first glance, this species appears to be plain in colouring, but closer up there are subtle colourings and markings on their plumage.

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeons like to sun themselves

Crested Pigeon sunning itself

Crested Pigeon sunning itself

In my last post, I wrote about a recent visit to the Brighton Caravan Park in the southern parts of Adelaide in South Australia. We were staying with several other couples who had also brought their caravans. This lovely park is adjacent one of Adelaide’s best beaches – and there are many wonderful beaches along this stretch of coastline. Our caravan was situated with a good view of the ocean, and only a few steps to the beach.

Over a four day stay at the park, we had many opportunities to just sit a chat with our friends, or gaze out to sea. On the Sunday, we were sitting in the shade of our friend’s caravan having lunch. The park was relatively quiet at that time and a small flock of Crested Pigeons came near to us. They were initially interested in the dripping tap near our van. This tap was attached to the water supply leading to our van. It was quite a warm day and the birds appreciated a little extra water (see photo below).

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon drinking from a dripping tap and hose

One of the pigeons decided that it was time to sit in the sun and take advantage of the warm sunlight (see photo at the top of this post). I have seen many birds sunning themselves in this fashion. I wrote a detailed article about this habit here. In this other article, there is a link to a more detailed article on why birds indulge in sunbathing or sunning themselves. In short, it appears that they are trying to rid their plumage of lice.

I guess it also feels nice.

Good birding,

Trevor

Further reading:

Crested Pigeon near our caravan

Crested Pigeon near our caravan

 

Crested Pigeons up close

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

Last weekend we had a few days away in our caravan. It was only a short break of three nights. Hardly time to settle in and enjoy the lovely beachside caravan park at Kingston Park on the southern edge of Adelaide, South Australia. We stayed in the beautiful Brighton Caravan Park, a most welcoming and well set out and well-maintained park. I wrote about this area after a similar visit last year. You can read about that visit here and here and here.

This caravan park is an easy 90-minute drive from our home. We had the delight of sharing the weekend there with six other couples. Over the weekend all the ladies went to a nearby convention while the men sat around chatting, solving the world’s problems and enjoying the magnificent view over one of Adelaide’s premier beaches. There are so many great beaches near to Adelaide that it is hard to choose one over another.

One of the delights of staying in a seaside caravan park is the birding. On Sunday afternoon, several couples went off exploring, another couple went to a birthday party and my wife and I were left alone to fend for ourselves. We both had books to read and we enjoyed the solitude in such a wonderful, peaceful setting. It was a warm day so we sought out the shady side of our van to read, and to enjoy our lunch.

As we were eating, a small flock of Crested Pigeons flew in and landed a few metres from where we were sitting. They were attracted to the dripping tap near our caravan. Some of them even sat in the pool of water on the slab of concrete around the tap. The birds were only about four metres from where we sat quietly, watching them and admiring the colours on their plumage – more about that in another post in a few days’ time.

I had my camera at the ready, so I was able to take quite a series of close-up photos of the pigeons sunbathing, drinking and generally enjoying themselves in front of us. They were obviously very comfortable with us sitting only a few steps away. I guess that there are people around every day, so they become quite tame. This is a species I have found very easy to approach in most locations.

Over the coming days, I will feature more photos of the birds who came to visit our caravan site.

Good birding,

Trevor

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

 

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon (the orange electrical cord led to our friends’ van)

Learn more about Australian Birds

Hooded Plover, Adelaide Zoo

Hooded Plover, Adelaide Zoo

I have been a member of Birdlife Australia for many decades.

I joined during the first Atlas of Australian Birds was compiled in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I contributed many hundreds of bird records to this atlas. Some years later I added many hundreds of sightings during the follow-up for the New Atlas of Australian Birds between 1998 and 2002. I continue to contribute bird sightings via their database on their website, Birdata.

There are many benefits to becoming a member, including subscription to a colourful and informative quarterly magazine. I love reading this journal every time it arrives in the mail. Membership also includes discounts on certain products and involvement in some of their projects.

One of the ongoing projects involves the Threatened Bird Network. Participants can get involved in many ways, and this can not only help you to get to know our birds better, it helps the bird species which need our help. To find out the type of projects that you can get involved with, check out their newsletters which can be downloaded to read. They also have pages dedicated to our threatened bird species. If you do not have the time, or are not able to help physically, you can always donate towards the conservation of our wonderful birds.

Information sheets

One feature of their website which is easily overlooked is the list of Information Sheets. This can be found near the bottom of each page. Several sheets are available to be downloaded as PDF files. They include:

  • help in choosing binoculars
  • attracting birds to your garden
  • bird watching for beginners
Regent Honeyeater

Regent Honeyeater