New Zealand Birds
This is a wonderful website that gives a wonderful introduction to and coverage of the birds of New Zealand. The site includes a long list of top birding spots all over the country, including how to get there. There is a comprehensive list of birding guides and accommodation for visiting birders. Even field guides are listed.
For me, the illustrations are the best feature of this wonderful site. They are beautiful paintings of each of the species present in New Zealand, endemic, native, introduced and extinct.
To visit this great website click here.
Great Birding Moments #10 Noisy Miner
Last week I went for a stroll through the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. I was pleased to get several good photos of a Silver Gull, a Dusky Moorhen and some Pacific Black Ducks on the lake near the restaurant area. I then walked around the lake where I could see some Red Hot Poker flowers lighting up the gardens. Not much else was in flower which is to be expected in mid-winter.
As I was taking some very nice shots of the flowers a Noisy Miner came to feed on the flowers. This was within 2 metres of me and it didn’t seem to mind me moving around trying to get the best angles and the best light on the subject. I love it when birds seem to be posing for me!
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Favourite Birding Spot #3 Kinchina, Murray Bridge
Kinchina is a locality about 3km west of our home on the western edge of Murray Bridge, South Australia. It takes me just over a half hour to walk there. More often we drive to the start of a track leading through the area and then walk for about half an hour before returning to the car for the short drive home.
The area originally had a railway siding I think, and there remains the ruin of a house from the early days of settlement in the district. The main Adelaide to Melbourne train line runs through the middle of the area and this is flanked by mainly mallee scrub and open farming country. The scrub area also contains many acacia (wattle) plants, as well as melaleuca, callistomen and correa plants with an understory of quite a range of smaller bushes and ground covers. This makes the area quite rich in flora and one of the better examples of what was here before European settlement.With such a diverse range of flora the fauna is also very good. Of the mammals, Western Grey Kangaroos are present and I have seen Echidnas and Brush-tailed Possums here. The introduced Brown Hare, Rabbit, Red Fox and Feral Cat are also present, unfortunately.
Good birding site
Birding in this area rarely disappoints. I have recorded over 50 species in this locality over the many visits. I am disappointed if my list does not reach 30 after about 30 minutes of walking. Common Bronzewing and Crested Pigeons and Peaceful Doves are all common breeding species in this area. I have seen Brown Falcons, Black-shouldered Kites, Nankeen Kestrels and the beautiful Spotted Harrier. Of the parrots, the Galah is by far the most common, with Mallee Ringnecks, Red Rumped Parrots and Purple-crowned Lorikeets also present.
Small bush birds
Willie Wagtails are very common as are Grey Fantails. Of the robins, the Hooded is resident but I am surprised that I haven’t yet recorded the Red-capped and the Flame Robin which are present only a short distance away. I have seen both the Golden and Rufous Whistlers and if I don’t actually see a Grey Shrike Thrush I usually hear one or more calling.
White-browed Babblers and Variegated Fairy-wrens are usually encountered in their noisy family groups as they scurry from bush to bush. The babblers untidy nests are evident everywhere, seemingly in every bush. Both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes call incessantly from the taller tree canopy. In summer the stunning Rainbow Bee-eater is resident and often nests in the sand banks along the creek banks.
There is almost always something flowering in the Kinchina area. This means that honeyeaters are always present. The New Holland Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds and Singing Honeyeaters are the most common species I have recorded there. The Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and Brown-headed Honeyeaters are not as common but still present on many occasions.
Woodswallows come and go in this area. Only when they nest do they hang around for more than an hour or two. The three species I’ve recorded around here include the Dusky Woodswallow (shown above) and the Masked and White-browed Woodswallows are also occasional visitors.
I’ve only mentioned a few of the species recorded at Kinchina. There are always Australian Magpies and Little Ravens present. The White-winged Choughs have nested in the branches above the track we walk along. Common Starlings and House Sparrows can seen from time to time too. The most beautiful, however, is the Diamond Firetail finch. I haven’t yet managed to get a photo of this delightful species.
Superb Blue Wrens
One of the delights in many parts of Australia is having birds hopping around your feet while having a picnic, or when camping in the bush. Sometimes they even hop on to or sit on the table where you are trying to have a cuppa and biscuits, or perhaps lunch. Scattering a few crumbs usually encourages the whole neighbourhood to come pay a visit. I’ve even had various species eat off my plate – and on one surprising moment, a butcherbird even flew past and snatched a sandwich from my hand as I was moving it towards my mouth!
Superb Blue Wrens are one of the most common birds in picnic grounds, park and gardens in eastern and southern parts of Australia. The male is stunning in its iridescent colours. During our picnic recently at the Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens in the Adelaide Hills we saw several females and several uncoloured males. So at the moment I do not have a photo of a male in all his splendour.
On a regular basis I have witnessed aggressive behaviour in birds. On a previous post I wrote about the conflict in our garden between a Willie Wagtail and a New Holland Honeyeater. The New Holland Honeyeaters seem to be aggressive towards many species. So is the Red Wattlebird, often seen chasing away other species from its favoured feeding plants.
Willie Wagtails are well known for taking on much larger birds, even as large as a Wedge-tailed Eagle which is many times its size. This is especially so during nesting time. Magpies get very aggressive during breeding season, the male defending the nest from all who dare come near the nest, humans included.
On fewer occasions I have observed a group of one species attacking a single bird from another species. Mobbing of Owls by honeyeaters, for example, is relatively common. Less common, in my experience, is a group actually doing harm to a single bird. While driving recently near our local racecourse I saw about a dozen Common Starlings attacking a Spotted Turtledove. The details are sketchy because I was concentrating on driving and couldn’t stop to observe further. The hapless turtledove seemed destined for a nasty demise. Perhaps the lady walking her dog towards the scene of the crime disturbed the attackers and gave it a reprieve. Whatever happened, I saw no body there a few hours later as I passed the same spot.