Banded Lapwings, Murray-Sunset National Park
Last year we went on a four week holiday through New South Wales and Victoria. I’ve written about that holiday on a number of previous occasions.
When we left Mildura in north west Victoria we didn’t follow the main highway home. Instead, we drove through parts of the extensive Murray-Sunset National Park. This park is mainly mallee scrub, with some open saltbush plains in places. As we were driving along the dirt track I managed to add a number of species to my trip list. One of these was the elusive Banded Lapwing, shown in the photo above.
Banded Lapwings have been something of a bogey bird for me, and I’ve only recorded it on a handful of occasions. Mind you, this is not really all that surprising, for while it is widespread in southern Australia, it is not common anywhere in its range. It is absent in the far tropical north of the continent.
Banded Lapwing’s preferred habitat is open, stony or ploughed ground or ground with short grass. The photo above shows the vegetation where I saw the Lapwings and this would be typical of its usual habitat. It is often encountered in small groups; only once have I seen a group of about fifty birds. It usually breeds in the months of June through to October, or after rain, and lays 3 – 4Ã‚Â eggs in a scrape on the ground sometimes with a little grass lining.
It is somewhat smaller than its more common and more aggressive cousin, the Masked Lapwing.
- Pizzey, G and Knight F: The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
Flamingo bashed at Adelaide Zoo
I was quite horrified to hear the news this morning about a 78 year old Flamingo being bashed by four teenagers at the Adelaide Zoo. Why would someone do this? It seems incomprehensible. What is more, the bird is blind and is the oldest Flamingo in captivity. It came to our local zoo here in the 1930s.
I took the photo above only last Friday on my most recent visit to the zoo. I am a Life Member so I visit often, mainly to see the excellent collection of birds, especially in the walk through aviaries. Having the birds up close is also great for photography, especially of species I would be hard pressed to see in the wild, let alone photograph them.
The news today is that the bird is making a good recovery. The four culprits, however,Ã‚Â have been detained by police and stand to be fined up to $50,000 or four years in prison.
For the full story, including a video of the bird and an interview with the director of the zoo, go to this link:
- Shock over Adelaide Zoo Flamingo bashing
For more news about zoos in Australia – and around the world – go to ZooChat, an on-line forum about zoos owned by my son. It covers over 450 zoos from over 50 countries and features news and discussions about zoos. The rapidly growing gallery has over 18,000 photos.
Australia has many honeyeaters with over sixty different species. I have recorded ten different species in our garden, with all except three being resident breeding species. They are a constant delight as many of them frequently visit the various flowering plants around our property as well as visiting our bird baths many times a day.
One beautiful species that does not visit our garden is the Blue-faced Honeyeater shown in the photos on this page. This is a widespread species across the northern and eastern parts of Australia, except for the extreme south-east. Its preferred habitats include open forests, along water courses, woodlands, parks, gardens, golf courses, farmlands and along roadside vegetation.
The bird shown in these photos was seen in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park in north-west Victoria while on a brief visit in September 2007.
For additional reading about honeyeaters click here.
House Sparrows eating berries
House Sparrows are large members of the finch family of birds. As such, they are predominantly seed eaters.
In reality, House Sparrows are far more omnivorous than that. Sure, they do eat a lot of seeds. For this we are grateful at our place, otherwise we might not just be over run with weeds but positively lost in a jungle of undesirables. I had to struggle to find something positive about those pesky little critters that seem to breed like rabbits… actually – our rabbit population is now breeding like sparrows… but that’s a story for another day.
Observing several House Sparrows near our bird bath recently I was interested to see that, after a quick drink, they both went to a nearby bush. This plant happened to be a local species called Enchylaena tomentosa. It is also known by the common name of Ruby Salt Bush. We have a few around on our property but I didn’t think they had any fruit on them at present. The sparrows were quite obviously eating the berries.
I guess the House Sparrows do eat far more than just seeds. According to the record in HANZAB* they eat a wide range of insects, spiders, fruits, grains (cereal crops) and berries such as the Boxthorn and the Ruby Salt Bush. Some have even been observed eating the nectar from a variety of trees and bushes. And we mustn’t forget their scavenging habits of eating food scraps left by humans.
HANZAB also mentions that they can be a pest in vegetable gardens too. Most gardeners will quickly point out that the humble House Sparrow has a definite liking for young seedling plants and poultry lovers will keep the local population booming by supplying a steady gourmet food source in their chook yards.
It seems that the little House Sparrow has rather eclectic tastes.
- House Sparrows – Birds in Backyards site
- Australian Plant Society article on Ruby Salt Bush – with a photo of the plant and berries
- *HANZAB – Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds Volume 7
Masked Lapwings nesting in Adelaide CBD
This is one article I should have written ages ago. I’ve been busy.
Quite a few weeks ago now there was a special item on the television news here in South Australia showing a pair of Masked Lapwings nesting on the median strip of one of Adelaide’s busiest thoroughfares.
This pair had made their nest on a triangular piece of lawn at the intersection of North Terrace (6 lanes), West Terrace (8 lanes) and Port Road (6 lanes), arguably one of the busiest parts of the Adelaide CBD. This median strip would have to be no more than half a tennis court in size and would have tens of thousands of cars, trucks buses and bikes going past only a few metres away every day of the week.
It was in exactly the same spot about ten years ago that saw a pair of Lapwings escorting two little balls of fluff with legs. I hope they are able to run the gauntlet of all that traffic and survive. It can be relatively quiet around 3am I suppose – if you run during changes in the lights.