Archive for February, 2008

Australian Hobby

Last weekend we visited our daughter at Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. She was going away for the weekend and needed us to dog-sit for her. (You can read about the Adventures of Nancy – the dog with attitude here.) On the Saturday we went further north for a few hours to visit my wife’s sister in Peterborough. It had been quite a while since our last visit.

I didn’t have much opportunity to go birding while there; just a half hour in the garden before sunset was all. From previous visits over the years I have quite a healthy list for the district, about seventy species in all. On this occasion I only saw a few of the regulars: Galah, House Sparrow, Common Starling, Common Blackbird, Australian Magpie, Magpie Lark, Mallee Ringneck, Crested Pigeon, Yellow-throated Miner, and Red Wattlebird.

One unusual bird I saw was a single Australian Hobby (also called Little Falcon). This is one species I had not recorded for that area before. This bird was continually perching on a high television antenna (Peterborough is a long way from the nearest station) and then swooping down to attempt to catch its prey. At no stage did I see it catch or eat anything. This continued for about ten minutes while I watched it, before it flew off elsewhere.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a photo of the bird as it was about a hundred metres away.

Further reading:

Wedge-tailed Eagle overhead

Yesterday morning I took a short five minute break from my studies. I thought I’d go for a short walk up our long driveway. A quick glance at the sky – a common enough action for me – revealed an eagle not far away. I raced back inside to grab the binoculars. There was a Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring overhead.

Camera. Grab the camera was my next thought – I don’t have a photo of a WTE in my collection yet. (The photo shown on this page was taken by my son.) As I raced outside again I discovered that the batteries in the camera were flat. Change the batteries. The next set was also flat. The third set worked – but by then the bird had flown away. That’d be right. Never mind.

Wedge-tailed Eagles are widespread in our area but are not all that common. In over 20 years I have only once before recorded this species on my Home Block list and, like this one, was soaring high overhead. It would be a significant day if one landed on our block or in a tree in our garden.

Wedge Tailed Eagle - Healesville Sanctuary

Wedge Tailed Eagle - Healesville Sanctuary

Yellow-rumped Thornbills

Yellow-rumped Thornbill

Yellow-rumped Thornbill

I love seeing dozens of tiny thornbills flitting around our garden. The most common thornbill here is the Yellow-rumped Thornbill with its bright yellow tail. Less common is the Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, an occasional visitor to the garden. Even less common is the Yellow Thornbill (also called the Little Thornbill). We recently had several of these quite close to the bird bath, but it didn’t stop to drink so I can’t count it on that list.

The Yellow-rumped Thornbills must have had a very good breeding season; there seems to be about 30 or 40 around at present. It is lovely seeing them come to the bird bath or just hopping around on the ground just a few metres away.

Despite the numbers I have found it very hard to get a good photo of one, especially of the yellow on the rump. They are constantly on the move – and when they move it can leave either a blur or an empty frame in the camera. The two in the photo above were bathing in a little pool of water near the base of a rose bush. They were having a great time on a hot day.

The photo below was taken several years ago in another location. It doesn’t show the yellow rump.

Yellow Rumped Thornbill

Yellow Rumped Thornbill

I and the Bird #69

I am a little slow in posting this notice. Sorry.

The latest I and the Bird #69 carnival was posted a few days ago on Living the Scientific Life.

As usual there is a contribution from me and a whole raft of links to interesting articles about birds from all over the globe.

A special feature this time is an easy quiz – with book prizes, so go to it.

Photo Gallery Milestone

Way to go!

Our family photo gallery passed a very significant milestone this morning.

One Million Views

Yes folks – you heard it here first.

Our family photo gallery has just had its one millionth view.


Hint: are you missing out on viewing our great photos? Most of the photos were taken by me – over a thousand of them so far. My son Sim’ is quickly catching up due to recently buying a new camera and really putting it through its paces on a holiday in South America right now. The rest were taken by my wife. (I hope our daughter gets on the gallery during her trip to Europe later this year.)

To view our photo gallery click here.

Red Capped Robin

Red Capped Robin