Archive for April, 2007

Grey Fantail visits our garden

The Grey Fantail is one of Australia’s better known birds. Along with its cousin, the Willie Wagtail, it is a member of the flycatcher family of Australian birds. Like the Willie Wagtail, the Grey Fantail is an endearing bird, often coming quite close to people while they visit parks and gardens, or even in house gardens in suburban areas.

Grey Fantail

Grey Fantail

I love having this cheeky and inquisitive bird nearby, and its beautiful, lilting flute-like ascending call is one of my favourite bird calls in the Australian environment. Unfortunately we only have occasional visits from this species in our garden. One visited us a few days ago, perching on a dead branch near where I was working. It had a close up look at me before flying off again. I didn’t have my camera with me; one day I’ll get a better shot than the one above.

Grey Fantails are found throughout Australia except for the very dry parts. Its preferred habitats include open forests and scrublands, orchards, golf courses, parks and gardens and along watercourses. It breeds in the latter half of the year. Its nest is a delicate, cup shaped bowl with a tail like a wineglass without a base. The nest usually consists of fine grass, spider web, bark strips or plant fibre. They usually lay 2 to 3 eggs, sometimes four.

Willie Wagtail

Willie Wagtail

Birds in the News #78

I am a little late in posting this.

Issue #78 of Birds in the News can be found here.

It features:

  • A wonderful photo of three Rhinoceros Hornbills
  • News of many Common Murres and other birds washed ashore on the beaches of California, Oregon and Washington.
  • A campaign to conserve Columbia’s wax palms and the Yellow-Eared Parrots.
  • The success of the captive Kiwi breeding programme at Auckland Zoo.
  • Australian twitchers descending upon Darwin to tick a rare occurance of a Javan Pond Heron.
  • A Bar-Tailed Godwit has been tracked by satellite – and set a new long-distance non-stop flight record of 10,200 km.
  • And much more.


Still more rain

Two days ago I wrote about the rain we were receiving. We have been in drought conditions here in South Australia for some time with little good rainfall for over eighteen months. Coupled with a long, hot summer the situation was getting serious. We were on quite severe water restrictions with the promise of further bans in coming weeks.

Since Thursday, however, it has hardly stopped raining. In the last 60 hours we have had about 85mm. Now this may seem not a great deal of rain compared to some parts of the world, but considering our annual average is only 344mm, this rain represents almost 25% of our annual precipitation. It was very steady rain meaning there was very little runoff; it was the long steady rainfall we had been praying for. More is forecast for the coming week.
More rain is needed:

We still have a long way to go before water restrictions can be lifted, however. It will take much more rain over a long period of time to replenish our depleted reservoirs. Even more rain is desperately needed in the Murray-Darling catchment basin in the eastern parts of Australia. This river system waters vast areas of food producing farmlands and orchards. Good rain over several years will be needed to bring the river system back into balance again.

Birds and the rain:

The rain was quite heavy for most of today. I didn’t hear any birds calling until the rain stopped at about 5pm. In fact, I didn’t even see any birds for most of the day. As soon as the rain stopped, the birds started calling again. The Little Ravens were the first to call, followed closely by the Magpie Larks, New Holland Honeyeaters and the Pardalotes. No birds came to visit the bird baths today. I wonder why?


Last Thursday we travelled to Adelaide International Airport to pick up our daughter. She had just been for a two and a half week stay in Ireland. On her way home she proudly announced that she had seen some Puffins while there.


I would love to add any of the Puffin species to my life list. It was a shame I didn’t go with her on this trip because she had a great time. I just didn’t like the extra baggage she took with her – sixteen teenagers from the school where she teaches here in South Australia.

This trip was organised by my daughter as a school exchange with a high school in county Clare, Ireland, which is most appropriate because she teaches at Clare High School in the mid-north of South Australia.

I and the Bird #47

The latest edition of I and the Bird – now up to number 47 – can be read over at Bell Tower Birding.

Sad to say I missed having one of my contributions featured this time round – I was very busy with other matters at the time.


I must remember the cut off date for the next edition.