Over recent weeks we have heard one or two Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos calling from various vantage points on our property or nearby; their call usually carries well over a hundred metres. On one occasion I saw two in the tree shown in the photos here. One was chasing the other so I suspect that mating was imminent. The tree in question is about 40 metres from our back varanda.
Most of the various cuckoos in Australia are like the true cuckoos of Europe except for their call. They are parasitic breeders, laying their eggs in the nests of a wide range of host parents who then incubate the eggs, hatch and raise the young. In many cases the cuckoo will dispose of the host bird’s eggs, or the cuckoo chick will hatch first and remove the eggs or young as the hatch.
We also get the Pallid Cuckoo and the Fan-tailed Cuckoo in our area most spring times but I haven’t heard either of them yet this year. On only one occasion we had a Shining Bronze-cuckoo in our garden, and it is possible to have the Black-eared Cuckoo here too, but I’ve yet to record that species on our block of land.
A flock of Red-rumped Parrots
Sydney Trip June 2011
After lunch on the last day of our trip home from Sydney we drove around the Nature Drive in Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. This drive follows the shore of Lake Hattah and several other lakes. Part way along I spotted a flock of about 20 Red-rumped Parrots. They flew from the grass where they had been feeding and perched in one of the trees near the road.
While it is not a brilliant photo it does illustrate the beautiful green and yellow colours of the male birds.
A private moment for two Galahs
Quite frequently I come across birds doing something interesting or unusual or even bizarre. While having lunch at Lake Hattah in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park earlier this year I noticed and photographed these two Galahs in a very private moment.
I almost feel like I was intruding, so I’ll say no more.
Another special sighting: Crested Bellbird
Sydney Trip June 2011
One of the delights of the last day of our trip home from Sydney earlier this year was a very clear sighting of a Crested Bellbird. It was perched in clear view and bright sunshine within easy camera range. What more could I ask? It proceeded to give its penetrating call at this close quarter. In between calls it took out time to preen its feathers.
All this gave me ample opportunity to get these photos, the first time I’ve been able to get good shots of this species despite many sightings over the years. In reality, when I think about it, I’ve probably heard this species more often than seen it. Its far reaching call ensures that it is recorded in my notebook more frequently than actual sightings.
These photos were taken in the mallee and spinifex habitat in the north western section of Hattah-Kulkyne National Park between Mildura and Ouyen in north western Victoria. The species is widespread throughout mainland Australia except in the eastern ranges, southern Victoria and the tropical north. It is more of a dryland species, preferring dry eucalypt woodlands, mulga, mallee, spinifex and saltbush areas.
The bird shown in these photos appears to be an immature male; the black throat patch is more grey than in the mature male.
A special sighting: Chestnut Quail-thrush
Sydney Trip June 2011
On the last day of our holiday earlier this year we left Mildura and headed south towards Ouyen. We had planned to visit one of our favourite places for lunch: Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. This park has two distinct habitat types: mallee and spinifex in large parts of the reserve, and the extensive array of small to medium lakes lined with River Red Gums. These lakes fill regularly when the nearby River Murray is in flood. Our family has had a number of enjoyable holidays in the camping ground at Lake Hattah.
On this occasion we stopped at a suitable point along the old Calder Highway, a dirt road leading through the northern section of the mallee and spinifex habitat. While the birding was a little on the slow side I was delighted to catch several glimpses of two Chestnut Quail-thrushes crossing the road nearby. The male obligingly posed long enough for a reasonable photo (see above). This can be a secretive species and not easy to capture on a photo.
Chestnut Quail-thrushes are widespread in suitable habitat in central and western New South Wales, northern South Australia and Western Australia. The photo below is indicative of its preferred habitat.