I was sitting outside on the back veranda having breakfast this morning and I heard an unusual bird call, one that was vaguely familiar but I wasn’t sure.
I looked up to see that three Grey Currawongs had flown into a tree near my wife’s Australian native plant nursery. Two of them still had downy plumage and both were not very confident moving around the tree. They flew to another tree and I could see that they were recent fledglings barely out of the nest. The third one was kept busy searching for beetles and spiders under the bark of the trees while the young ones persisted in begging for food.
Before long they flew off to another part of the property. It was already far too hot to go chasing after them through the scrub with a camera. Here in South Australia it is supposed to be spring with lovely sunny days with temperatures in the low to mid 20s. Instead, we are experiencing an unseasonal and record breaking heat wave. Later today it reached 42C under our veranda. That might be fine for the height of summer in January and February – but not in November.
This morning I was working out in the garden early before the heat of the day. I had been doing some mowing after all of the rain we’ve had over winter and spring. I’d just switched off the mower, that noisy beast, when I heard a familiar bird call overhead.
Three Nankeen Kestrels were flying low over head, two of them chasing after the first while calling. I recognised the call as that of the young birds begging for food. They are a regular breeding species here in Murray Bridge, South Australia but I don’t often get to hear or see the young ones. It’s good to see this species thriving here.
Nankeen Kestrels are found throughout Australia but they are uncommon in Tasmania I understand. They are one of our raptor species and are the smallest of the kites found in Australia. The Letter-winged Kites and the Black-shouldered Kites are just marginally larger.
This species is most commonly encountered along country roads in rural Australia. They can been seen hovering 5 to 10 metres above the ground or hanging motionless on a stiff breeze while searching for a feed. Their diet consists usually of mice, grasshoppers, insects and small lizards.
Their preferred habitat is grasslands, plains, farmlands as well as roadside verges, but they are equally at home in the built up CBDs of towns and cities.
Perhaps the most spectacular view I’ve had of this species was an individual soaring at eye level within metres of where I stood on a visit to the control tower of Melbourne Airport.
I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s nature programme called “Rainforest: the secret of life” on ABC1 television here in Australia.
It was particularly pleasing to see so many of our birds featured on the programme. I enjoyed the long sequences showing the Albert’s Lyrebird and his extensive repertoire of calls and songs. Another feature was the Brush Turkey dispatching the carpet python from stealing eggs from the nesting mound by violently flicking leaves and sticks at the hapless snake.
The only criticism I can level at this lovely documentary was at the commentary. Whoever wrote the script needs a lesson in basic nature writing. It was far too lighthearted and anthropomorphic for the seriousness of the subject matter. The final few minutes highlighted the global importance of rainforests. They are being destroyed at an alarming rate. This is great cause for concern, but I fear the message was lost after the humourous sections earlier in the documentary.
Despite my criticism, this is a worthwhile show to watch. It’s not available from the ABC Shop Online as I write this, but will probably be available in the next few days.
UPDATE: the DVD of this programme is now available – click here.