Archive for August, 2006

Bath time

While working in my wife’s plant nursery yesterday we were delighted to see several New Holland Honeyeaters up close. We had just had the watering system on and so the plants were all quite damp. The honeyeaters came in for a feed only to find all the leaves dripping with water. They both then proceeded to have a bath, scrabbling and cavorting amongst the wet foliage with droplets of water spraying in all directions.

It was a delightful little encounter.

The photo below was taken quite some time ago. I didn’t have the camera with me yesterday.

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

How to be a Birder part 16

Hint # 16 Collect Birds on Stamps

In another life I collected stamps. I mainly specialised in Australian stamps but started a collection of birds on stamps when my interest in birds started to develop. I never went very far with this off-shoot. I always said that I would take up stamp collecting again when I retired from teaching. Two years ago a retired from teaching and now I am busier than ever. No time for philately.

At the moment it is not for me, but there are literally thousands, perhaps millions of people who collect birds on stamps. It seems that every stamp issuing country has produced at least one set of birds on stamps. Some seem to issue a set every few months. I guess that there are many thousands of birds featured on the stamps of the world. It is a collection that would never be complete, with new issues every few days somewhere or other.

This is a hobby where you could specialise, seeing the field is so broad. For example, I had intended making a collection of the stamps featuring only birds of Wallacea. This is the area south-east of Wallace’s line, including Indonesia, Papua New-Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and some of the Pacific Islands. Wallace was a nineteenth century naturalist. Many birds endemic to this faunal zone have been featured on stamps from outside this area, especially some European countries.

Wallacea is divided from Sundaland, the other hotspot found in Indonesia, by Wallace’s Line, which separates the Indo-Malayan and Australasian biogeographic realms. The line and the hotspot are both named for the 19th century English explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who identified the distinctiveness of faunas on either side of the line.

Whatever format your stamp collecting interests are or become, this is an excellent way to further develop your knowledge of the wonderful creatures we share this world with, and your appreciation of their beauty will increase.

To read more hints on how to be a birder click here.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet

Some links with birds on stamps:

  • Australian Bird Stamps (Sorry – this link no longer exists)

Updated November 2013.

Great Bird photo site

A great birding site for photos of Australian birds is Peter Fuller’s Australian Bird Photography.

Of particular interest is the gallery featuring birds in flight.

Amazing photography.

It gives me something to which to aspire with my photography.

To view my photo gallery click here.

How to be a Birder part 15

Hint #15 Use a birding database on your computer

Most birders have traditionally kept extensive diaries or notebooks of their birding observations. There is nothing wrong with this approach. It is cheap – a notebook costs only a few dollars – and it creates a permanent record. This is necessary, because if you are anything like me, your memory may be fine – up to a point. Actually, I suspect it’s my forgettery that is at fault. Or perhaps my memory bank is full. Whatever.

I still keep extensive records in little notebooks in the field. I buy the type that fits easily into my shirt pocket. That way it is in easy reach and I always know where it is. Find whatever system works for you.

Back at home base I then transfer these notes to my computer. I use a database dedicated to birding called BirdInfo developed by Canberra birder Simon Bennett in the early 1990s. This database has gone through many versions and is ideal for my needs. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting to go down this path. There are available, however, many other databases dedicated to birding. Search on the internet or look in birding magazines. If you are a computer whiz and have the time, you could develop your own specialised database using something like Microsoft Windows Excel or Access.

BirdInfo enables me to record all my observations in an easy to use and retrieve format. Each observation takes only several key strokes. I can record the date, the place, the map coordinates, the species name, number, breeding and several other fields as well.

Retrieving data is just as easy with many different reports easily generated. For example, in seconds I can search and find a list of birds I saw in my garden in 1988. I can just as easily find the record of the first time I saw a Yellow Billed Spoonbill, or how many times I have seen a Mallee Fowl, and where, and how many. This is just a few of the examples of many uses I find for the database.

Entering many years of records from notebooks and diaries into a computer database can be a very daunting task taking many hours of typing. It is not for everyone. Think carefully how you are going to use it before launching out. I find it very interesting and useful. Some might find it burdensome and pointless.

It’s your hobby, so pursue it in your own way.

To read more hints about how to be a birder click here.

For information about BirdInfo for Windows click here.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet

A delightful visitor to the garden



While gardening yesterday I was attracted to some familiar calls. Two Mistletoebirds were calling from the mallee scrub near the garden. I was able to steadily walk up to the male until I was merely four metres away. He was sitting in the sunshine with his brilliant red feathers shining like a beacon from the dead branch where he perched. By the time I went inside and collected my camera, he had moved on. Never mind, as I had already taken the above photo late last year.

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  • My photo gallery