Archive for April, 2009

Birding can be an arresting hobby

Flowers of Eucalyptus porosa

Flowers of Eucalyptus porosa

I was almost arrested this morning.

Let me explain. We went for our normal early morning walk down the road along one side of our property. Part of this walk takes us past the external fence of the local prison complex. We think nothing of it every morning.

Along this stretch we had excellent views of about five Purple-crowned Lorikeets feeding on the flowers of the local mallee trees known as Eucalyptus porosa It’s a shrubby form of gum tree and quite common in this area. The photo above shows the flowers.

The lorikeets were quite unconcerned with our presence. In fact, I was able to watch one feeding at head height about a metre in front of me. It would have made an excellent photo with the first rays of morning sunlight highlighting the colours.

I was both pleased – and annoyed. No camera! And I do not yet have a photo of this species. Usually they are high up in the foliage feeding – or streaking across the tree tops at speed. Here was the ultimate photo opportunity – and no camera.

Ten minutes later we were home. I grabbed the camera and hopped in the car and drove to the same spot. Of course, Murphy’s Law – they’d flown off. All I managed was several shots of the trees and flowers. Then it all turned pear shape. Remember – this was right next to the boundary fence of the prison.

My actions immediately attracted the attention of the ‘boundary rider’ on his quad bike. Over recent months the prison has had a spate of people on the outside throwing tennis balls filled with drugs over the fence RIGHT WHERE I WAS STANDING! Talk about being a bit stupid. I had some quick explaining to do. He immediately reassured me that I certainly didn’t look like a drug supplier.

Whew! Talk about birding being a dangerous hobby!

Anyway – all’s weel that ends well! Except that I still don’t have a photo of that species!

Maybe next time!

Related articles:

Flowers of a Eucalyptus porosa

Flowers of a Eucalyptus porosa

Rain at Last

Rainbow Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeets

South Australia – along with many other parts of the country – has been suffering terribly through an extended period of drought over the last few years. The land is parched dry and the flora – and probably the fauna as well – has been suffering.

Over the last three days however, the state has received its best rain in over four months. Here where we live in Murray Bridge it’s the best rain we’ve had in over eight months. In fact, except for a few showers a few weeks ago, this is this only rain we’ve had this year.  And the weather people are forecasting more of the same over the coming days.

It is about now that grain farmers (mainly wheat and barley) are preparing to sow their seed for the coming season. This is perfect timing for them. Now we wait for good follow up rains over the next six months or so.

I have been interested to note that most birds have been relatively quiet today. Mind you, they’ve probably been sheltering from the heavy rain.

I don’t have a photo of the rain. Instead I’ve included a photo of two Rainbow Lorikeets.

Special Note: Today is Australia’s most sacred non-religious day: ANZAC DAY. On this day we stop to remember those who served in war.

For my special tribute, go to my writing blog.


Varied Sittella

One of the regular tasks I usually attend to each week is to hang up the washing on the clothes line. I enjoy this simple task for a number of reasons. Importantly it gets me away from the computer keyboard or my study books for a break. Good for the eyes. Good for the brain to crank down a little. And good for the lungs to get some fresh air.

But the most important reason I enjoy doing it is for the birding I can do. When one is hanging up the washing, your eyes are often cast skywards. In this way I am able to see birds I normally would probably miss. Then I will also hear birds I couldn’t hear from in my office.

This is what happened a few weeks ago. Nearby I could hear some birds chirping. I immediately realised that this call was not one of the normal species we have in our garden. I raced inside for the binoculars. Sure enough, the birds I heard proved to be a small flock of Varied Sittellas. These wonderful little birds are widespread in our district without being common anywhere.

Sittellas are widespread throughout much of Australia. There are 5 or 6 distinct races but there is hybridization where the races overlap in their distribution.  They are very communal birds, moving through woodlands in a small family group of 5-7 individuals. They feed on insects found under the bark of trees, hopping along the branches in their quest for food.

I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo on this occasion.

To see several photos, and to read more information about this species go to the Birds in Backyards web site.

Golden Whistler

Golden Whistler (male)

Golden Whistler (male)

Over the last few days we have been hearing several whistlers in our garden. Yesterday afternoon I finally obtained a good view of the male Golden Whistler – in all his beautiful plumage. All afternoon he had been calling, one of the delights of having this species in our garden.

As I observed him another whistler was skulking in the foliage nearby. I didn’t have my binoculars with me, and I only saw a silhouette of this second bird, but it certainly looked like a female. The male seemed to be calling to her and also displaying his best side to the female.

Golden Whistler (female)

Golden Whistler (female)

28 Choughs just flew by

White Winged Chough carrying nesting material

White Winged Chough carrying nesting material

We regularly have a family of about 8 – 10 White-winged Choughs in our garden. I can’t really say that they are a resident species, but they do come for a visit almost every day. Sometimes they hang around for an hour or two, digging little holes in the soil or searching under leaf litter for lunch. Sometimes they just fly through on their way next door, or down the road. We are usually aware of their presence; they can be noisy at times.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the sun on the back veranda reading a magazine. Without a warning call, a large flock of White-winged Choughs flew past less than five metres away. They headed over the fence into our neighbour’s garden. I went after them but didn’t have time to grab the camera. Just as well – they didn’t hang around long enough for photos. They created quite a hullabaloo – I’m not sure what the issue was, but as they flew off down the road I managed to count them – at least 28 birds. This is the most I have seen here (from memory).


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This post was updated on November 1st 2016.