Archive for September, 2006

Bird strike at Adelaide Airport

Breaking News

I heard on local radio a few minutes ago that a plane taking off this morning from Adelaide Airport had to make an emergency landing a few minutes after take-off. The report stated that the plane had hit a flock of Galahs. The plane landed safely and no-one was hurt. How much damage there was to the engine was not stated. No mention of how many galahs died in the strike.

Bird strikes on planes have been a perpetual problem since planes took to the air. Many thousands – perhaps millions – of birds have been killed in this way. Most major airports have programmes in place to deal with this threat to airline safety. These attempts at restricting bird numbers at airports have met with varied amounts of success.

I guess that a Galah going through a jet engine has the potential to do a great deal of damage, especially to the poor Galah. When flying one has to put such things out of one’s mind. No use dwelling on the “what ifs.”

I suppose it has happened though I’ve never heard of a plane hitting a Pelican. These large birds would do considerable damage to a plane. Pelicans are known to fly at very high altitudes here in Australia, up to 3000 metres and more.

Even more worrying would be to hit an emu. Now – I know what you are thinking – emus don’t fly. Correct. Many of our country bush airstrips have the potential to have these large solid birds running across the runway on take-off or landing. Hitting an emu in a small plane could be nasty – for the plane. Most emus are so tough they’d probably just give a shake of the feathers and keep on running!

I wouldn’t like to put it to the test though.


Apparently there have been no less than three incidents involving planes and EMUS in recent years. For an article about bird strikes on planes in Australia click here.

Mother duck ducks off

This seems to be an annual event in the heart of the capital city of South Australia. A mother duck and her family of five ducklings were seen in King William Street yesterday morning. This is one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares and goes right through the middle of the CBD.

All the fuss caused by the incident prompted the mother to abandon her offspring, flying off and leaving them to the perils of the busy street. The little ones were soon rescued and put into foster care where they will be hand reared.

A report in the local newspaper said it appeared that the mother duck was taking her brood from Victoria Square in the middle of the city to the nearby River Torrens. This is a march of about a kilometre through the middle of the city. Almost every year there are reports similar to this one.

What is Field Guide?

Frequently Asked Questions about Birding #8

What is a Field Guide?

A field guide is a book which helps the birder to identify the birds in the field (in the wild). Some species of birds can be very similar. In Australia, for example, the thornbills are mostly little brown birds often jokingly called LBBs (Little Brown Birds). They can be infuriatingly hard to identify as they feed high the canopies of trees.

A field guide helps to sort out the different species and give them a name.

If you are lucky! And clever.

Yellow Rumped Thornbill

Yellow Rumped Thornbill

European Goldfinch

European Goldfinch

European Goldfinch

Finches are delightful little birds.

We have a great array of finches native to Australia, from the somewhat plain through to the amazing colours of the Gouldian Finch. There are also several introduced species including the ubiquitous House Sparrow, the rarer Tree Sparrow, European Greenfinch and the European Goldfinch.

This latter species has spread throughout south eastern Australia roughly south of a line from Adelaide to Sydney. Here in my home town of Murray Bridge they are present but not in large numbers. Their distribution around here seems to be a little sporadic. One reliable spot to see Goldfinches is near the local Post Office. I had an excellent view of one sitting on a power line, its tinkling call carrying quite a distance.

Our home is nearly five kilometres from the post office and I have recorded this species on only a few occasions over the years. It has never been resident in our garden, just an irregular visitor. That could be about to change. Over recent weeks I have seen two or three on an almost daily basis. They could very well be colonising this area. There certainly is sufficient feed around for them to survive here.

What equipment do I need to be a birder?

Frequently Asked Questions about birding #7

What equipment do I need to be a birder? It is entirely up to the individual and what their budget is like. Great enjoyment of birds can be derived from merely looking at or listening to birds – with no equipment at all. Having a few extra items, while not essential, can really enhance one’s appreciation of birds. These include:

    • Binoculars
    • Field guide
    • Note book
    • Camera
    • Telescope
    • Maps
    • GPS
    • Computer database
    • Bird calls on CDs or tapes.
    • Magazines, books, DVDs, videos
    • Membership of a birding club or organisation.

Over the next few days I will be writing about some of these things.

Red Wattlebird

Red Wattlebird