Archive for January, 2008

A new bird for our garden list: Collared Turtle-dove

Collared Turtle-dove

Collared Turtle-dove

CORRECTION: I have asked various experts in these matters and it seems that the general opinion is that this bird is in fact a BARBARY DOVE.

It is not often these days that I am able to add a new bird to our garden bird list. We’ve been living here now for over 20 years and a new species added to the list is a notable event.

This morning while putting out the rubbish bin my attention was drawn to an unusual bird in the tree near the driveway. Immediately I thought it was a Spotted Turtle-dove. On closer inspection it was far lighter in colour than the resident Spotted Turtle-doves which are an introduced species here in Australia. The Spotted Turtle-doves frequently nest in our garden but are never present in large numbers – perhaps three or four at a time at most.

Something quite different

I left the rubbish bin in the driveway and raced inside for the binoculars. As I went I changed my mind and grabbed the digital camera. It was still there when I came out again, posing beautifully in full sunlight on a branch just above head height. Lovely. I realised instantly that this was something quite different. I immediately thought it was a Collared Turtle-dove (also called a Barbary Dove: UPDATE: I’m not sure if this is true; the sites I consulted are very confusing).

Introduced species:

This species is not featured in Australian Field Guides as a resident species. It is present in a few suburbs in nearby Adelaide (80km to the west) and Alice Springs (central Australia) and I’ve read of a few small populations in parts of eastern Australia. Research on the internet has not been all that satisfying and somewhat confusing. This is because there seem to be a number of different common names used for this species, if I’m reading the information correctly. Some names I’ve some across include Collared Dove, Collared Turtle-dove, Barbary Dove, Ringed Dove and it looks somewhat like the African Collared Dove. To say I’m confused is an understatement. If any readers can clear up these issues I appreciate you using the comments below (or the contact email form here).

Collared Turtle-dove

Collared Turtle-dove


This bird seemed to be very tame. It sat patiently and quietly in the tree just above my head while I took the photos on this page. It was less than three metres away through much of this process. This indicates to me that it has escaped – or been released – from someone’s aviary. There are many bird keepers in our city with a very active bird club. To my knowledge this is the first time this species has been recorded in the wild here. I thought of catching it and putting it in a cage, but it was too high to reach. Within a half hour it had flown and I haven’t seen it again. I hope that it was a single bird; we don’t really want a breeding colony resident in the district.

A “lifer” for me

Not only was this a new bird for our garden list – and a species that may never be recorded here again – it was also a “lifer” meaning I’d never seen this species before in my life. It was not as exciting as adding any other species to my life list because it is an introduced species and something that should not be here. Add to that the fact that it has either escaped or been released from an aviary takes the gloss off seeing a new bird.

[Sigh] I’ll just have to get out more to add other species to my life list.

Click on the photos to enlarge the images.

Collared Turtle-dove

Collared Turtle-dove

Collared Turtle-dove

Collared Turtle-dove

Collared Turtle-dove

Collared Turtle-dove


Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters

Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater

Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater

While having a relaxing breakfast a few mornings ago, several Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters came to drink at the bird bath in our garden. Next thing a baby Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater came along begging to be fed. It was just able to fly and its tail was only half grown. Here is an example of another instance where some birds have nested in our garden and remained unobserved. They are so secretive and sneaky that this happens far too often. Never mind; it was good to see the baby getting around.

I commented to my wife that this was one species I didn’t have a photo of yet; I was wrong. I don’t have many, and the one featured above is probably the best.

The biggest twitch

Hard on the heels of the BIGBY (The Big Green Big Year) where a group of birders is going carbon neutral for at least some of their birding, I find out about ….


Two Welsh birders have teamed up to break the world record of recording the most birds in a single calendar year. The current record stands at 3662 species, or just over a third of all the bird species in the world.

It will be a massive undertaking and will no doubt be far from “carbon neutral.” It is all very interesting and must have taken an enormous amount of planning. It will be interesting to follow their progress. You can check out their web site and follow their adventures here.

Carbon neutral birding – the BIGBY

Happy New Year to all my readers. A whole new year of exciting birding possibilities ahead of us. Now where should I go to see the best and most birds?

I sometimes feel a little guilty travelling long distances in order to visit special birding spots. Not that I do it all that often, but I certainly have been known to travel by car in order to pursue my passion. I must admit that in recent times of high fuel prices that I have been somewhat more concerned about the cost to my wallet rather than any great concern about the environment. I can change my ways. A little. If I try. Carbon neutral birding – that’s the way to go.

A group of American birders have joined a special cause called The Big Green Big Year or BIGBY. Some birders have given themselves over to the pursuit of a “Big Year” where they try to see as many birds as possible in a single year. Some of these have even written books about their experiences. Most – if not all – have involved plenty of travel – in cars, trains, buses, planes and boats. This Big Year is different.

For your sightings to qualify as counting towards BIGBY, all birding must be accomplished on foot – within walking distance of home or your workplace. There is also a category where a bicycle can be used, and another where public transport is used. (It’s going to travel the route whether or not you are on board.)

This is a low-key, friendly bit of birding rivalry that is not especially original but which seems appropriate in these days of carbon emissions and climate change. If you have ever felt even a tiny bit guilty about driving or flying to see a good bird (or several) why not join us in a year of carbon-neutral birding?

The Big Green Big Year has the acronym BGBY and is therefore pronounced Bigby* … and it is simply a Big Year in which you only count those species seen within walking or cycling distance of your home or principle place of work. As simple as that, no dashing off to the far corners of the planet burning fossil fuels as you go.

Richard Gregson, Baie d’Urfé, Québec (Bigby coordinator)

So there you go. I can be a simple as just counting the birds in your garden, or from the office window.

I am going to be registering here as the first from Australia to do so. Why not join me? It can be fun and the exercise and fresh air will do us all good, an added bonus.

Further reading:

  • The Big Twitch – an hilarious account of how Sean Dooley broke an Australian birding record.

One of the first birds I recorded this year was a Crested Pigeon coming to drink from the bird bath in our garden (see photo below).

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon