Archive for January, 2009

Rainbow Bee-eaters

Rainbow Bee-eater

Rainbow Bee-eater

One of the Australian bird species I always enjoy seeing (or hearing) is the Rainbow Bee-eater. This bird is a seasonal visitor in the summer months here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Small flocks (and sometimes only an individual) arrive in spring and depart on their way north in late summer (about February) or early autumn (March).

Many years ago we had them nesting on our five acre block of land. From childhood I have been intrigued by this beautiful bird that makes its nest at the end of a small tunnel in the sand or in the sandy bank of a road or railway cutting.

I suspect that they currently nest in the banks of an ephemeral creek about hlaf a kilometre from our home. They may also nest up the hill from our place.

This summer they arrived here a little later than usual. Over the last month I don’t know if they have visited our garden as we have been away interstate. Since returning last Friday, however, they have been hanging around almost every day, coming for a short while and then moving elsewhere. I haven’t been able to get close enough for a new photo, so I’ve used one taken several years ago.

White-winged Choughs in the heat

White-winged Choughs

Yesterday I wrote about Magpies in the hot weather we are having. So far we have had a rather mild summer, but the last few days has brought in the hot weather we’ve been expecting for some weeks. More hot days are forecast for the coming week.

During warm weather our bird baths are well used by the resident birds in our garden. When it is hot there is a constant stream of birds of many different species taking advantage of the water for both drinking and bathing. It is great entertainment for us as well as providing a much needed resource for the birds.

At one stage yesterday I was amused by the family of eight White-winged Choughs who all came to have a drink. All at once. I am so pleased that they did not decide to have a bath as well. A single Magpie can almost empty the bird bath in minutes; I’d hate to think how little water would have been left after eight WW Choughs had finished bathing!

White-winged Choughs

Magpies in the heat

Australian Magpie on a hot day

Australian Magpie on a hot day

Yesterday we had the hottest day of this summer so far. It reached 45C under our front veranda – that’s 113F for those of you who use that temperature scale.

It was hot.

Very hot.

Apart from needing to go to the Post Office early in the morning I stayed indoors all day. The evaporative air conditioner chugged away nicely from late morning until well into the evening. One aspect of this form of cooling is that you need to keep a few windows partially open to keep the flow of air moving. We often open the sliding door shown in the photo above a few centimetres. It wasn’t long before the resident magpie family found the lovely cool air coming from the house.

Earlier they had been enjoying bathing in the bird bath, but this was even better evidently. At one stage I noticed six birds taking advantage of the cool air. It will be interesting if other species follow suit on the hot days still to come.

Australian Magpies on a hot day

Australian Magpies on a hot day

Australian Owlet-nightjar

The last few days have been quite warm here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. So far our summer has been quite mild, with temperatures in the low to mid 20s (70-80 F). This little heat wave has come as a bit of shock to the system.

Last night we were enjoying our new veranda in the cool of the evening. Nothing worth watching on television so we switched it off. Nice just to sit and talk. As we talked we heard the unmistakable call of an Australian Owlet-nightjar. This delightful little nocturnal bird is more often heard than seen. We hadn’t heard or seen this species here at home for some months, so that was an added bonus.

About a year ago we had an Owlet-nightjar roosting in a hollow limb in a tree near my office. Several times every morning he would come to the entrance of the hollow, call several times, enjoy a few minutes of sunshine and then go back to sleep in the hollow. I miss that regular interruption to my daily routines.

The photo shows this bird at the entrance of the hollow.

Australian Owlet-nightjar

Australian Owlet-nightjar


Apologies to my regular readers.

I have been a little slow at responding to comments over the last week or so. This is because I was on a road trip with my family and had limited (or no) internet access on some days. Over the next day or so I should catch up with all comments.

We travelled from home in Murray Bridge in South Australia for two days so that we could be in Sydney for Christmas with family. After New Year we travelled to Canberra and then along the south coast of NSW and Victoria, staying with friends for a few days just north of Melbourne. Over the coming weeks I will share my birding experiences while on this trip. You can also read about non-birding experiences on Trevor’s Travels.

Late last week we also had a problem with this blog, with no posts since April 2008 showing. Sorry if this confused you. My son Simon maintains my blogs and was doing an upgrade and inadvertently configured this blog to point to an older database. That’s why you couldn’t read all those recent posts for a few hours.

Sorry if this caused you any inconvenience. All is now fixed, thanks to my son.