I had to admit to my wife last week that I really enjoy hanging out the washing.
The reason is simple: it gets me outdoors, eyes cast skywards. Some of my best birding moments have occurred while hanging out the washing.
Last week was one of those moments. I had barely commenced when my attention was caught by a bird of prey high in the sky. It was obviously an eagle, slowly riding the air currents and circling overhead. I raced inside for the binoculars, sure that it was a Wedge-tailed Eagle. A more passes overhead confirmed my first identification.
This magnificent raptor – our largest bird of prey – is widespread all over Australia. It is widespread in our region too, but not common. Their territories are often huge, and they soar for many kilometres each day searching for their food. Despite them being relatively common in our region, this is only the third time in over 25 years I’ve observed one over our property. I need to get outdoors more often!
The nest of the Wedge-tailed Eagle consists of many sticks and twigs and can be reused many times in the lives of a pair. They will often refurbish the original nest, adding many more sticks until the structure is huge, sometimes large enough for a human adult to lie down in. The nearest nest I know of is about 20km NW of home near the Mannum waterfalls reserve.
On my recent trip to Pinnaroo east of here in Murray Bridge I saw the above bushfire prevention sign on the side of the road. As I flashed past I thought, “My readers might like to see that.”
So I came to a screeching halt and backed up. Well – I checked the mirror first. Good thing too – a big truck was following me about a hundred metres back. I let him pass before taking the photo.
Most local councils in Australia have strict regulations about lighting fires, especially in rural areas. Many farmers still use burning off as a strategy for controlling weeds. Lighting a fire during the summer months is asking for trouble, hence the signs.
The message of this sign seems to be appealing to bird lovers.
But what kind of bird?
The two parrots depicted by the artist appear to be rosellas, but they are nothing like any of the rosellas in my field guides. I guess the artist wanted to depict a generic type of parrot, appealing to a very broad audience.
I suspect the artist has adapted an illustration from a children’s colouring book. I’m sure I’ve seen something very similar in one of those “Colour by Number” type books.
I doesn’t matter – if it gets the message across and prevents fires, then it has achieved its purpose. Pity though – I’d like to have a photo or two of the parrots featured. They’d look good here on my blog.
The photo above shows a Cockatiel (left) and a Pink Cockatoo (centre) in the aviary in Pinnaroo, eastern South Australia. Both species are relatively common in the area. This is not a particularly good photo of the Pink Cockatoo – see below for a better shot which my son took some years ago at the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney.
The Pink Cockatoo is also known as the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, named after an early Australian explorer.
This beautiful member of the parrot family is widespread throughout much of the arid and semi-arid regions of mainland Australia. It is far less common than other cockatoos. It is always a special bird to see in the wild, especially when they land and they raise their stunning crests.
When I visited Pinnaroo in eastern South Australia last week I visited the local aviaries next to the caravan park. I’ve featured some of the birds seen over recent days. Next to the aviaries was a large enclosure containing a small flock of Emus. They cam over to the fence to see what I was up to. I ignored them as I took photos of the birds in the cages. By the time I’d finished, the Emus had lost interest in me and had wandered off.
If you look carefully in the photo above, you can see an Emu sitting under the tree on the left hand side. It looks as though this is a male sitting on eggs. The female Emu will mate with the male, select a nesting site on the ground, a rough scrape in the dirt lined with a few twigs or leaves. She will lay the 5 to 11 large green eggs and then will leave.
The male takes over the task of incubating the eggs and caring for the young for up to 18 months. Meanwhile, the female wanders off and may mate with several other males during the breeding season.
Emus can be found throughout most parts of mainland Australia, especially in pastoral and cropping lands, plains, scrublands and national parks.
I took this photo of two Galahs in the aviary next to the Pinnaroo Caravan Park last week. Rather sad looking birds if you ask me. I guess they’d rather be out in the fields pinching the seeds from a farmer’s wheat crop. At least they have each other – many parrots mate for life. It’s a little hard to tell but by digitally enlarging the photo it looks like the one on the left is a male, the other a female. (Males have dark brown eyes, females red eyes).
Even sadder is the solitary Little Corella shown below.