Several days ago I was writing at my desk in the office when I heard the unmistakable call of a Peaceful Dove in our garden. It sounded like it was in the tree right outside the office. The camera often resides within reach and so I was on my way outside in seconds. Sure enough, a single Peaceful Dove was in the tree but my approach was a little too noisy or rapid.
Peaceful Doves can be a little flighty at times. This one quickly flew a short distance away to another tree further from the house. This time I was a little more cautious. I was able to get four or five shots before it decided to head off towards a patch of scrub next door. Unfortunately, the light was all wrong and the resulting photos are not worth keeping. Instead, I have posted a photo of a Peaceful Dove seen last year in the walk-through aviary at the Cleland Wildlife Park.
Peaceful Doves cannot be classed as resident in our garden, but they are reasonably frequent visitors. We love hearing their soft “doodle-doo” call as we work outside. Peaceful doves are widespread throughout the eastern and northern halves of Australia.
As a little aside, I find it quite remarkable how often their call is featured in the background of Australian films or television shows.
Yesterday we were having lunch in the sunroom overlooking the bird baths in the garden. A single Diamond Firetail Finch delighted us by coming to drink several times from the bird bath. It gave me enough time to gather the camera from the office and take a few quickly snapped photos. These are the best two shots.
I was a delight to see this beautiful bird again after an absence of several months. It is widespread in our district but nowhere common. It is an infrequent visitor to our garden. I can’t add this species to the list of birds to have visited the bird bath as it has done so on several occasions before.
Last Friday evening we had a meeting to attend in the South Australian country town of Coonalpyn, about an hour’s drive from home and two hours South East of Adelaide. We decided to take the day off from work. My wife works in her native plant nursery most days and I on my writing.
The weather forecast was not looking good, but the start of the day was quite pleasant. We travelled via Tailem Bend to the small mallee community of Peake, nearly an hour east of Murray Bridge. Here we turned north for a few kilometres to a picnic ground called How Park. This small community park is now very run down with a dilapidated toilet block and club rooms, a strip of concrete formerly used as a cricket pitch and an open area previously used as a football oval.
Uninvited lunch guests:
This park would have been much used in earlier times, say in the 1950s and 60s, but its condition is now quite derelict. Some of the beautiful pine trees planted by early settlers are magnificent still; others have either died through the drought or been ravaged by storms. Despite this we still had our picnic lunch there. The numerous uninvited bush flies decided to join us. I only recorded a few birds in the park and didn’t take any photos. One notable sighting was of several Peaceful Doves who serenaded us while we dined.
Jabuk to Geranium:
After lunch we travelled to Jabuk and then on to Geranium. By now the hot north wind was increasing and the cloud cover intensifying. It was not a good day for birding and I saw very little of interest except for four Western Grey Kangaroos. On previous occasions I had seen many birds on this stretch of road. Today was a very poor birding day though I did see a family of White Winged Choughs.
One Tree Hill:
A few kilometres south of Geranium there is a locality known as One Tree Hill. It has many trees there so I don’t know why it is called that. Nearby is a soak used by the Aborigines in earlier times; it would have been one of the few places where there was fresh water in the district. There is no surface water now; the local farmers and their bores have lowered the water table. One feature of this locality is many hundreds of trees planted by a local grower, especially many kinds of Banksias (see photo). I was only able to get several photos before beating a hasty retreat to the car for shelter. From that point on it rained steadily all the way to our friends’ place in Coonalpyn.
While the rain was very welcome, the birding was disappointing. Next time we will pick better weather.
Over recent weeks I have been highlighting a number of birding bloopers. These have been shared on the Birding-Aus forum and the contributors have agreed to let me publish them here.
Today I feature another one – this time one of my own experiences.
In the year 2000 my wife and I were visiting our son and daughter-in-law in Sydney. We had planned to visit various national parks near the city during our stay. A park high on our list was Royal National Park just south of the city. Established in 1879 this was Australia’s first ever national park and only the second such park in the world, Yellowstone being the first.
In preparation for birding while on my holiday I bought a book called “A Birdwatcher’s Guide to the Sydney Region”. This book had sections on different parts of the region, maps, how to get there and what to expect to see. In the section on Royal National Park it states that walking down Lady Carrington Drive is a good place to see Lyrebirds.
Yeah – right. Have the birds read this guide?
We parked in the car park and started our walk along this drive. Naturally my eyes were focussed up in the trees, looking for birds. I was quickly adding many species to my notebook. My wife, some 15 metres behind me, gave a sudden urgent call for me to look around. I was being followed by a male Superb Lyrebird!
We had excellent views of this bird only metres away. It was obviously quite used to having people on his territory.
This was before we had a digital camera so I can’t show a photo of said bird. Somewhere, however, in our vast collection of slides and prints, we do have a photo. I must search through and scan it on to my computer and then show it here.
The latest edition of Birds in the News #76 has been posted.
The featured photo this week is a male Superb Bird of Paradise performing a courtship display to a plain brown female. Stunning colours and feather pattern – it is hard to believe it is actually a bird!