During our stay in Sydney over last Christmas and New Year we went on various excursions around the city. Our son and daughter in law suggested that we have lunch at the Sydney Fish Markets. We were willing to see these markets, a place we had not previously visited on trips to Sydney.
After catching the train into the city we caught the tram to the markets. We wandered around the various markets jostling with the many hundreds of other people with the same idea. Sydney between Christmas and New Year can be very busy. We eventually decided on a place to order lunch. The ladies lined up for about an hour to get our lunch while my son and I “hovered” near a table where the people had almost finished eating. The many picnic tables were not coping with the huge crowds of visitors. Eventually our tactic paid off, just minutes before our food was ready.
While we were waiting and during our delicious seafood meal I was on the lookout for any birds. The most obvious were the Silver Gulls keeping an eye on our lunch. Strutting along between the rows of tables were several White Ibises, also on the lookout for a free meal. Several Australian Pelicans waited patiently in the water nearby while Rainbow Lorikeets darted overhead. There were quite a few Common Mynas, Noisy Miners and Rock Doves in the area, and several Pied Cormorants drying their feathers on a boat in the harbour.
At the moment I am working outside in the cool of the evening on my laptop. I’d just sat down to do something with no thought about birding when I was distracted by a flock of White-winged Choughs in our garden.
Normally we have a family groups of about 8 regularly patrolling the grounds, feeding and minding their own business.
I was attracted by the extra noise being created by this flock this evening. I looked up and counted at least 16 birds flying past, all making quite a racket. This number is a little unusual as normally family groups around here number from about five to a dozen, rarely more.
All I can assume is that two neighbouring groups have met where their territories cross over. That was the probable cause of the noisy and larger than normal group. Whatever the reason, they have now moved on and I can no longer hear them. Their territories can cover many hectares.
The photo above was taken a few weeks ago a long distance from here in Murray Bridge. It was taken during a visit to Canberra Botanic Gardens.
While visiting my son and daughter in law in Sydney last Christmas we went for a family picnic to Lane Cove National Park. It had been many years since our last visit here – over 30 years in fact.
Before lunch several of us went for a walk along one of the walking tracks there. I was hoping for a good birding list plus a few good photos of birds.
The day was hot, humid and being around lunch time, rather quiet. I was amazed, however,Â at the large numbers of lizards in that part of the park. There seemed to be dozens of Eastern Water Dragons, all quite happy to come out and pose for my camera.
On our recent trip to Sydney we had a family picnic lunch in the Lane Cove National Park. Before lunch several of us went on a long walk through the park. I was there to get a good list of birds plus the odd photo or two of birds.
As we walked along my daughter spotted a rather large Lace Monitor lizard crossing the track in front of us. It quickly decided to take refuge on the trunk of a nearby tree and was decidely camera shy. Because of the steep terrain I was unable to get around on the side of the tree to get a better view.
It was a nice distraction from the birding that morning.
Common Starlings are not my favourite birds.
In fact, here in Australia they are considered a pest, especially by fruit growers and people who have a few fruit trees in their back yard. A small flock can completely ruin a crop of apricots in a few hours, for example.
There is a wider environmental issue to also consider. Common Starlings are often found in flocks of hundreds and even number in the tens of thousands in fruit growing areas. Large flocks like this feed on the crops when they are ripe; for the rest of the year they are seriously depleting food sources of many of our native species. Even worse is the fact that they use tree hollows for their nests, thus denying native birds precious nesting sites. They are also very messy in their nesting habits, fouling the hollows to the point where only Starlings will reuse the hollow.
Last night I was at an outdoor function being conducted by our church. We hold this event on Sunday evenings every year in JanuaryÂ in the town sound shell. Despite the very loudly amplified music the birding was spectacular. Not many species flew over, mind you, but one incident involving a Common Starling really caught my attention.
Two Australian Hobbies (Little Falcons) live around the CBD and I’ve seen them soaring around the area on a number of occasions. One of them zoomed past the sound shell at great speed heading for some trees in the park opposite. It did a few loops around a tall pine tree disturbing a Common Starling in the process which sped of in the opposite direction, hotly pursued by the falcon. Both disappeared behind a building. I hope that the falcon caught his supper.