Archive for July, 2007

Hear the Blackbird singing in the morning

Common Blackbird (male)

Common Blackbird (male)

I love lingering in a warm, comfortable bed on a a cold, frosty morning. That was the case this morning. I needed to get up but the cosiness was so alluring. On occasions like this I love trying to identify the birds calling from the garden outside.

We usually have a few Honeyeaters and the resident Willie Wagtails. A few Little Ravens can often be heard off in the distance and the occasional flock of Galahs flies overhead. Sometimes I am aware of a Grey Currawong calling or perhaps even a Grey Butcherbird.

This morning it was different. My waking moments were highlighted by the delightful song of the male Common Blackbird. I will forgive this bird for being an introduced species here in South Australia; it’s call is so beautiful.

During the late autumn and winter the Blackbird is largely silent. Our resident birds can be seen skulking through the undergrowth. If disturbed they will fly off suddenly, giving a harsh warning call as it flies off.

Once the weather starts to warm a little the male Blackbird begins its amazing song, usually late afternoon and early evening. It would have to be one of the most beautiful songbirds in the world.

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Birding around Cape Dombey, Robe, South Australia

Cape Dombey, Robe, South Australia

Cape Dombey, Robe, South Australia

During our recent holiday in Robe in the south east of South Australia we went for a short drive to Cape Dombey. This is within walking distance of the main street but our cottage was at the other end of town so we drove.

Rock Doves, Cape Dombey, Robe, South Australia

Rock Doves, Cape Dombey, Robe, South Australia

The cape consists of some low but spectacular cliffs. We spent about an hour there during a beautiful sunny and calm morning, a complete contrast with the wild weather of the previous three days. I was a little disappointed with the birding while we were there. The most common birds were the Rock Doves roosting on the rock ledges or on top of the cliffs. Occasionally a small flock would fly over towards one of the rocks or small islands just off the coast.

Pied Cormorants, Cape Dombey, Robe, South Australia

Pied Cormorants, Cape Dombey, Robe, South Australia

I also saw a few Little Pied Cormorants and their larger cousins the Pied Cormorants. Some of these were seen flying or swimming out to sea, others, including those in the photo above, were resting on the nearby rocks. On a nearby rock ledge I also saw two Sooty Oystercatchers, but they flew off before I could get a photo of them.

Cape Dombey, Robe, South Australia

Cape Dombey, Robe, South Australia

Other birds in the locality included Welcome Swallows gliding and swooping around the headland and the nearby scrub. In the bushy area in the nearby sandhills I also saw several Singing Honeyeaters, several small flocks of Superb Blue Wrens, a single Grey Shrike Thrush and several Masked Lapwings on the lawns of nearby houses as we returned to the cottage for lunch. I also heard several Little Ravens calling.

Oh – I nearly forgot the occasional small flock of Silver Gulls and a solitary Crested Tern.

Click on the photos to enlarge the image.

Birds in the News #92

The latest edition of Birds in the News (#92) has been posted over at Living the Scientific Life. It features a beautiful photo of a Snowy Owl.

This edition is a special – it’s a Hedwig the Owl edition. For the three or four people in the world who may be as ignorant as me on these matters, this is a reference to Harry Potter. I’m not into HP – in fact, I’m probably one of less than a dozen or so people left who do not like the HP books (yes – I did make the effort to read the first in the series – and I thought it quite second rate as a work of literature).

More importantly, this edition of Birds in the News has a link to a worrying article about the bird life around Chernobyl. All is not well with the birds living in or near the disaster zone. Surprise, surprise.

I and the Bird #54: Assignment: Write about Birds

The latest edition of I and the Bird #54 over at The Egret’s Nest takes me back to my own teaching days. I remember the enthusiasm most of my students displayed while studying birds. I also remember the field trips and camps to get out there watching the wonderful birds in their natural environment.

I was delighted with the grade I received on my assignment.

Birding around Guichen Bay, South Australia

Guichen Bay, Robe, SE South Australia

Guichen Bay, Robe, SE South Australia

Last week we went for a short, five day holiday to Robe in the south-east region of South Australia. Robe is about a three and a half hour drive from home. This beautiful, historic seaside town is popular with tourists, with good reason. It is a quaint little fishing town catering well for the many visitors that flock there, primarily in the warmer months.

Being the middle of winter it was the off-season and that suits me fine, especially from a birding point of view. There are several downsides; the weather can be very dodgy and even bitterly cold. Another downside is the absence of wading birds; they all have better sense than us and head north for our winter. While the birding was quiet, I did record some good birds. Nothing spectacular, mind you, but satisfying nevertheless.

Guichen Bay, Robe, SE South Australia

Guichen Bay, Robe, SE South Australia

During our stay I went on three quite long walks and several drives searching out the bird life of the region. I was also looking for some good scenery shots to include here and on my travel blog.

Twice I walked from the cottage we were renting past the Sea-Vu Caravan Park and then along the bay to the fishing boat harbour. Robe is situated on Guichen Bay. On my walks I went along the Town Beach, where the photos above were taken.

Birds seen:

Overall the birding was a little disappointing. We had a friendly Willie Wagtail in the back yard, along with Silver Gulls flying overhead and occasionally landing on the fence or the roof. Common birds around our cottage and in nearby streets included House Sparrows, European Goldfinches and Common Starlings.

The cottage backed on to the local golf course which was lined with trees. In these trees I saw Little Ravens and Grey Currawongs. Throughout the town there were many Little and Red Wattlebirds, New Holland Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails and Welcome Swallows. I also saw the occasional Common Blackbird.


One noticeable species in many parts of the town was the Masked Lapwing. This species seems to enjoy feeding on the many spacious and very green lawns throughout the town. One pair even landed noisily on our back yard lawn, but they flew off again before I could fire up the camera.

Beach Birds:

On my walks along the beach I didn’t see many water birds. I did see two Black Oystercatchers on the rocks near the Town Beach, as well as Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants out in the bay. Silver Gulls were everywhere, but not in large numbers. I saw one Crested Tern. In the bushes fronting the beach there were many Singing Honeyeaters.

In the coming days I will write about other birds seen and other places visited while on my holiday.

Updated November 2013.