Archive for November, 2011

Happy Bird-day to me

Yes, that’s right.

It’s my birthday today, so to treat all my faithful readers I’m going to share some of my favourite photos.

Oh, and if you’d like to write some birthday messages in the comments section, I’d be mighty chuffed too.

Male Flame Robin, Mt. Macedon, Victoria

Cattle Egret in walk through aviary at Adelaide Zoo

Crested Pigeon

Male Gang-gang Cockatoo, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Red Wattlebird

Birding around Mannum, South Australia part 2

Murray River at Mannum, South Australia

A few weeks ago I spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon birding in and around Mannum, about a 20 minute drive north of home. The Murray River and its environment are the dominant feature of this town, an old paddle steamer port in the 1800s. I went for a walk along a walking trail on the riverside opposite the town. The trail starts just south of the ferry crossing.

I was delighted with the birding on that fine, pleasant spring day. One of the best species I saw was the Superb Fairy-wren. This stunning bird is always a good sighting and that can come up quite close in picnic areas. This family was just a little wary and it took quite a while and some patience to get several good shots of the male in all his colouful splendour.

Male Superb Fairy-wren, Mannum

Male Superb Fairy-wren, Mannum

Birding around Mannum, South Australia

Murray River at Mannum, South Australia

The Murray River town of Mannum is just over an hour’s drive from Adelaide and about 20 minutes from home here in Murray Bridge. It is a relaxing riverside town still basking in its long and colourful history, especially its heyday as a river port in the paddle steamer era of the 1800s. It is still a popular boating area, though the vessels are a little faster these days – except the many houseboats which glide gracefully along the wide expanse of water.

We don’t get to Mannum often enough despite its proximity to our home. A few weeks ago I had a speaking engagement in one of the local churches. After lunch I did a few hours of birding along the river. It was a calm, sunny spring day, ideal for a spot of birding. I crossed over the river on the ferry and stopped on the bank opposite the town and just south of the ferry crossing. I went for a walk along the levee bank heading downstream.

Despite being mid afternoon the birds were extremely cooperative and I managed a good list with the bonus of a few good photos as well. One species hard to get posing in good light and close enough was the Red-rumped Parrots. A small flock of about 10 individuals was feeding on the grass near the walking track. eventually I managed one reasonable shot – and plenty of not-for-showing-here kind of shots.

You have days like that.

Male Red-rumped Parrot, Mannum

We have baby Willie Wagtails in a nest

Willie Wagtails in the nest

I had suspected that our resident pair of Willie Wagtails have been nesting somewhere in our mallee scrub but hadn’t been able to locate the nest. They can be very sneaky and secretive about the whole affair.

Then a few days ago I was cleaning up in an area of the scrub not frequented all that often and I was attacked by the adults. Not that they actually hit or bit me; they just made it quite obvious by their scotching calls and close swooping over my head that I was not welcome.

Sure enough – three fluffy chicks were over filling a totally inadequate nest. The photo above shows their home almost bursting at the seams.

I took the photo a few weeks ago and the chicks have now fledged and are making their presence known around the garden, demanding food from a harried set of parents struggling to keep up with their insistent calling for food.

The next question is: will the parents nest again once this brood is off their hands… er… beaks and feeding themselves independently?

The photo of some fledged Willie Wagtails was taken a few years ago at the same location.

Further reading:

Baby Willie Wagtails just out of their nest and being fed.

The Rainbow Beeeaters have arrived

Rainbow Bee-eater

Over the last few weeks the Rainbow Bee-eaters have be flying around our garden and mallee scrub. During the winter months they head north to warmer parts of the country, and every spring they head south for spring and summer.

It is always a delight when we hear them arrive. It’s a sure sign that spring has arrived. Almost every day for the last few weeks we’ve heard them around, or seen them overhead. Perhaps this year they will nest on our property like they did some years ago?

I find their nesting habit to be quite unusual. They make a short 30 – 40cm tunnel in a sandy spot and then construct a small nesting hollow at the end of the tunnel where they lay the eggs. Sometimes the burrow into the side of a road cutting, or the bank of a creek or river, providing the dirt is not too hard or compacted. I remember being fascinated by these birds as a child growing up on a farm in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia. That fascination has remained to this day.

Rainbow Bee-eater