Archive for April, 2011

Red-browed Finch, Victor Harbor

Red-browed Finch, Victor Harbor

Earlier this year we stayed with friends in Victor Harbor on the south coast of South Australia. While we were there they took us to look at his sister’s extensive garden. While the others were having a good look around at the various plants, I found myself a seat near a bird feeder next to the house.

It wasn’t long before several Red-browed Finches came along for a snack. This sighting was a delight for me as we don’t have finches regularly in our garden and certainly not this lovely species. We occasionally will play host to Diamond Firetail Finches and I’ve also recorded Zebra Finches a few times.

Further reading:

Red-browed Finch, Victor Harbor

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater up close

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

The Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater is a resident breeding bird species in our garden. We see them every day as they go about feeding and especially enjoy their visits to our bird baths. The above photo was taken quite close to one of the bird baths. I also enjoy hearing their mournful call because it reminds me of my children. Both are now adults, but when they were quite young they renamed this bird the “yoo-hoo” bird, imitating its call. The name has stuck.

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters are found over large areas of Australia, primarily the drier inland woodlands and scrubs. It is absent from Tasmania, the northern tropical regions and the extreme south western and south eastern Australia.

Related articles and photos:

Marsh Sandpiper

Marsh Sandpiper, Goolwa, South Australia

I meant to post this photograph a few months ago. It was taken at Goolwa in South Australia in January. This area is a wetland area near the barrage and only a few kilometres from the mouth of the River Murray.

I’m not at all confident in identifying many of our waders and shorebirds; their plumage changes from breeding to non-breeding can be challenging at best, and confusing most of the time. I think this is a Marsh Sandpiper in non-breeding plumage. If any of my readers disagree, please use my contact email form or leave a comment and I’ll make the necessary changes on the photo and this post.

Marsh Sandpipers are widespread summer migrant to Australia during their non-breeding phase, usually from about August through to April/May. They breed in places like Austria through to northern Mongolia. From there they disperse during migration to Africa, the Indian sub-continent, south east Asia and Australia and occasionally to New Zealand. They are one of those species who annually clock up many frequent flyer points.

I’ve seen this species on a few occasions before but never had the chance to photograph it. Thanks to Rod for stopping his vintage car long enough to get these shots.

Good birding.

Marsh Sandpiper, Goolwa, South Australia

A brief visitor – Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo

I was out in our garden yesterday when I saw one of our resident Willie Wagtails chasing a bird I didn’t recognise at first. When it eventually sat still enough and I could get a reasonable look at it, I realised that it was a Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo.

Nothing unusual about that. We often hear them calling in the spring time and sometimes during the summer too. Sometimes they stay around for a few days and at other times they are just passing through.

What is unusual about this sighting is the timing. Most of this species has already flown north for the winter by the end of March, or even earlier. This individual was either a little tardy in its migration, or it was lulled into staying by our warm start to autumn. On the other hand, some individuals of many of our cuckoo species here in Australia are known to occasionally “over winter”. This means that they don’t migrate to northern Australia but prefer to stay and enjoy our brisk winter. Probably saves quite an effort in flying all that way, too.

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of this species yet, and it had flown off before I could fetch the camera from in the house. Despite that, it was a nice sighting at this time of the year.

Good birding.

Crested Tern, Murray River mouth

Crested Tern with a Black Swan in the background

The Crested Tern can be found right around the Australian coastline. In some cases it can also be found along waterways some distance inland. In the case of the bird in this photo, it was near the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia, only a few hundred metres from the coast.

Crested Terns can be found alone or in small groups but they range up to breeding colonies numbering in the thousands. While they prefer coastal habitats they can also be found along rivers, lakes, freshwater wetlands, estuaries, salt swamps, bays and inlets.