Archive for April, 2006

Birds of Monarto Conservation Park

Last Saturday my wife and I visited Monarto Conservation Park. This park is about 15 minutes drive from our home here in Murray Bridge South Australia. The park is some 65 km south east of Adelaide. The park consists of a variety of habitats but is predominantly mallee. From a slight rise part way along the only walking trail one can look over a sea of mallee trees.

Plants of the Park
In between thick stands of mallee trees (Eucalyptus diversifolia) there are open heath like patches of vegetation. It is like a natural garden and when the plants are in flower it is really delightful. There is a wide variety of plants present including Daisies, Correas, Acacias, Astrolomas, Baeckia, Leucopogons, Boronias and several types of native orchids. The park promises to be absolutely filled with flowers later in the year. (For more information on the plants check my wife’s blog by clicking here.)

Birds of the Park

Over the years our visits have shown a great variation in the birdlife. Sometimes there is hardly a whisper of birdsong and one has to work hard to list even 15 different species. At other times, usually when the plants are in flower, the chorus of birds is – well, not quite deafening, but noisy – and birds seem to be everywhere. My total species list is around the 50 mark which is quite good for this type of country.

Quiet Day

Saturday as one of those quiet days, despite many plants being in flower. I saw or heard a total of 19 species, with some notable dips. Not seeing a Southern Scrub Robin was the major dip.

Here is a list of the species I recorded, in the order of seeing or hearing them:

  • Yellow-rumped Thornbill,
  • Little Raven,
  • Grey Currawong,
  • Red Wattlebird,
  • Spotted Pardalote,
  • Australian Magpie,
  • White-browed Babbler,
  • Welcome Swallow,
  • Purple-crowned Lorikeet,
  • Nankeen Kestrel,
  • Weebill,
  • Grey Shrike-thrush,
  • Mallee Ringneck Parrot,
  • Brown-headed Honeyeater,
  • Striated Pardalote,
  • Willie Wagtail,
  • Red-rumped Parrot
  • Peaceful Dove.

Misty Duck

It all started with a duck on a misty lake. The resulting photograph started a lifetime enjoyment of birds and bird photography. I discovered this wonderful site called Misty Duck this week. It is the site of Adrian Foster of North Wales in the UK. It features many beatiful photos of birds. An interesting side feature is the Misty Junior pages. It contains photos and hints from his daughter. Cute.

To visit the Misty Duck site click here.

Galahs in the rain

The Galah is possibly Australia’s best known parrot. We often have flocks of Galahs flying over our house and garden. Sometimes these flocks land in one of the large mallee trees on our 2 hectare (5 acre) property. These flocks vary in size from a half dozen or less up to 50 to a hundred.

During some rain recently I was aware of some noisy Galahs in the tall tree just outside my office. It seemed to be more than the usual few noisy individuals. Sure enough, on checking outside, there were some 60-80 in the tree. No wonder they were noisy. I must have disturbed them because they all took flight. They only went about fifty metres before alighting on the power lines out the front of our place, joining the 250 or so already lined up along the wire.

Large flocks of this size are not unusual. They can be quite noisy when they all start calling together.

Diamond Firetail Finches

Australian Finches would have to be on many people’s lists of beautiful birds. Some, like the Gouldian Finch of northern Australia, are simply stunning. It is no wonder that they are highly popular with aviculturalists.

Diamond Firetail

One of the local finches here in Murray Bridge South Australia is the very beautiful Diamond Firetail (Stagonopleura guttata). It is slightly smaller than the common House Sparrow found in many of our parks and gardens. The Diamond Firetail is widely spread in this district but is not common anywhere. According to the New Atlas of Australian Birds its distribution covers most of south eastern Australia south of a line from Port Augusta to Brisbane. It is not found in Tasmania. (To view map click here)

The Diamond Firetail is a small bird some 12-13cm in size. It has a bright, unmistakable red beak and red rump with a black tail. Its throat and breast is white with a black band across it. The white spotted black flanks give it the appearance of diamonds studded along its sides.

Diamond Firetail Finch

Diamond Firetail Finch

Local occurrences

I have observed this beautiful species in a number of localities near my home. The best sightings have been in our own garden where it is in infrequent visitor. On several occasions it has delighted us in visiting our bird bath. Every time it has been such a brief visit. Its next visit must come soon – it hasn’t been since I bought my new camera. I’d love to get a close up photo of its stunning colours. [UPDATE: the photos on this page were added in March 2007]

An unusual sighting of this species was recorded recently near Callington (about 20km west of here). A large flock of over 35 was reported on Birdpedia. I have usually only seen them in ones or twos.

Diamond Firetail Finch

Diamond Firetail Finch

Checklist of Australian Birds

For those starting out in birding it could be useful to have a complete checklist of birds of Australia. The Birds Australia website has a checklist available for downloading.
Please note that this is not an official checklist as it is still in draft form.

To download the list click here.