Archive for February, 2009

Crimson Rosella, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Crimson Rosella, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Crimson Rosella, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra

The Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra are a good spot to see some of our beautiful parrots and lorikeets. Two days ago I wrote about the Gang-gang Cockatoo. During our visit back in January this year I also saw Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets and Eastern Rosellas.

The only other species I was able to get close enough to photograph was a juvenile Crimson Rosella. It let me get quite close but kept in deep shade for most of the time. I had to use the flash to get a reasonable shot (see above). Other photos, like the one below I had to change a little on the computer. (Oh – the joys of birds photography!)

Juvenila Crimson Rosella, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Juvenile Crimson Rosella, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Birding while doing the washing

I think I might have commented on this before, but I can’t remember where. With over 800 blog posts it would take a while to find the reference to it.

Hang on a minute: this blog has a search facility. Doh.

A few second’s search brought up this post about seeing a Peregrine Falcon while I was hanging out the washing one day last year. And the search box at the top of each page on this blog will bring you to a list of articles from the archives that help you find what you are looking for. More articles about birds I’ve seen while hanging out the clothes can be found here.

Now – back to my original reason for writing this post.

On Tuesday morning I was hanging out the washing. Nothing unusual about that; I do it most Mondays except that we’ve now changed to Tuesdays because of our university studies, but that’s another story.

In the quietness of the morning I was suddenly aware of a splashing noise. I glanced over the fence at our neighbour’s bird bath. Water was spraying everywhere, as if they had a small sprinkler going on the lawn. Now here in South Australia we haven’t been allowed to use sprinklers for several years due to the water restrictions during the current drought. What’s more, it wasn’t one of the designated watering days anyway.

On closer inspection – I didn’t have a clear view of the bird bath – I discovered two White-winged Choughs having a glorious bath, water flying in all directions. It was a warm morning and they were taking full advantage of the water provided. Of course I didn’t have my camera on me.

You can read more articles about White-winged Choughs here.

Gang-gang Cockatoos

Male Gang-gang Cockatoo, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Male Gang-gang Cockatoo, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

During our visit to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra in January I was keen to get some photos of the local birds as well as add to my collection of flower and plant photos.

On my last visit some fifteen months previously I had seen and photographed a male Gang-gang Cockatoo. This is one delightful species that I’ve only seen on a handful of occasions previously. On this new visit I was on the lookout for them. I had heard several calling as I left the car park.

I was wandering through the northern part of the gardens looking out for birds and flowers to photograph. I was suddenly aware of a carpet of Acacia seed pods and leaves on the path at my feet. Looking up, I saw a female Gang-gang Cockatoo busily eating seeds no more than two metres above my head. She wouldn’t move in order to pose for me in the open; she must have been hungry.

Further reading: Gang-gang Cockatoo

Female Gang-gang Cockatoo, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Female Gang-gang Cockatoo, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Bird brain podcast #1 with comedian Steve Abbott

Now for something completely different.

Australian radio network ABC has produced a series of podcasts about bird watching. The commentary is provided by comedian Steve Abbott (aka The Sandman) and is the first on 10 episodes.

To listen click here: Bird Brain episode 1

Here is the press release I received about the series:


A definitive list of other people’s bird sightings.

Steve Abbott, aka Sandman, returns to the ABC under the guise of Steve, a middle aged man, who feels lost and dishevelled in life. He comes to the conclusion he needs a hobby to occupy his less than satisfactory life.

Birdbrain, a 10 part podcast series exclusive to, will follow Steve as he takes on bird watching, after all he can already tell the difference between the Spotted and the Striated Pardalote.

Like many of us, there is a little bit of a bird watcher in Steve, but after researching a failed TV project several years ago he already has more knowledge than the average person, but less than real bird watchers.

Sadly, for a variety of reasons, Steve finds it hard to go the extra few yards and actually go bird watching very often, so he decides to create a bird list not only from his own sightings, but of other people’s.

Birdbrain is an excuse to talk to Birdwatchers about their lists and then cunningly relate their experiences to one man’s mid life crises, said Abbott.

Most people’s bird lists read more like a diary; where they saw a bird, what they were doing when they saw it; what characteristics this bird has; is it threatened or flourishing, and if so why.

The core of each podcast is Steve’s internal monologue or the diary of Steve’s life, punctuated by his recordings of bird sightings and other birdwatchers sightings. They all go together to form Steve’s list, which may cover every bird in Australia.

It’s a very simple idea that is partly a reflection on Steve’s life, partly about birds, partly about birdwatchers and it has a strong underlying environmental message – birds are a clear and quantifiable barometer for the health of our eco systems.

Other diversions include information on binoculars, footwear, where’s the best place to see particular birds and what to tell your partner when you can’t go to her sister’s birthday party because you have a once in a life time raptor field trip.

The first Birdbrain podcast will be available on Monday 16 February. To subscribe, downloaded or listen on demand go to at

Pied Currawongs, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Pied Currawong, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Pied Currawong, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Pied Currawongs are a common bird species along the east coast of Australia, from Cape York down to far south eastern South Australia. Their distribution generally follows the Great Dividing Range but they can be found several hundred kilometres inland where suitable habitat exists.

Their preferred habitats include rainforests, woodlands, forests, coastal scrubs, farmland, parks, gardens and picnic grounds. Where they come in frequent contact with people they can become quite tame. The individual shown in the photos above and below was seen during our recent visit to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. I was able to approach to within several metres. It basically took no notice of me filming him as it went about feeding in the trees and bushes, and on the ground.

The far reaching call of the currawong is one of the iconic sounds of the Australian bush. It is also quite at home in suburban backyards – like my son’s garden in Artarmon, Sydney – and even right in the CBD of our biggest cities.

Pied Currawong, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Pied Currawong, Botanic Gardens, Canberra