Archive for June, 2012

Magpie portraits

Australian Magpie

A few days ago we had some wonderful rain. When we get significant falls of rain, we also get sizeable puddles of water in our gravel driveway. The birds often take advantage of the water and enjoy a splash or two. I managed to get a few portrait shots of one of our resident magpies.

Australian Magpie

Australian Magpie

Are the magpies getting ready to start nesting?

Australian Magpie

Australian Magpies are one of the most recognisable of Australian birds. They are common over large parts of Australia.

They are also highly territorial, and in the breeding season they can be very aggressive towards other magpies, other bird species, and, on occasions, towards humans. Their swoop – usually from behind and usually unexpected – can be quite terrifying to some people. They have been know to even draw blood if contact is made with vulnerable parts such as the head. Cyclists seem to attract swooping magpies far more than pedestrians, for some reason.

About this time of the year, however, they generally have not yet started nesting. Now is the time to reinforce their territorial claims, chasing one another in wild, noisy conflicts. I witnessed the start of this only a few days ago in our mallee scrub. Our five acre patch of scrub is the junction of three different magpie territories; the boundaries are fiercely defended. On the positive side, “our” resident magpies never swoop, for which we are thankful.

On my evening walk yesterday I heard the distinctive warning call of a male magpie, one whose territory is about a kilometre from our home. I looked up, and was interested to see a partially constructed nest in the tree over head. This particular bird is aggressive towards humans, so I’ll have to be careful walking along that part of the road in the coming weeks.

Australian Magpie

Australian Magpie


A parrot flyover

It is my habit to go for a walk every day. In reality, it is a habit more on the wish-list than in reality. I need to do it for general fitness, well being and just plain sanity. Sitting at a keyboard writing all day is not the smooth path to a healthy life. But I try.

A wonderful bonus to getting out for a walk is seeing numerous birds as I walk. Sometimes I even take some note paper with and jot down what I see. Very rarely do I take a camera with me which is a pity. I’ve missed some wonderful photos that way.

Take this evening, for example. The call of the locally common Red-rumped Parrot is quite distinctive. I heard them coming. Lots of them. Next thing about 30 flew low overhead, some of them alighting in the top branches of nearby tree in full, late afternoon sunlight. Would have made a lovely photo. Never mind; some other day – perhaps.

In the meantime, my readers will have to make do with two photos I prepared earlier.

Red-rumped parrot (male)

Red-rumped Parrots, Euston, NSW

A few birds in Peterborough, South Australia

Ducks on the lake, Victoria Park, Peterborough, South Australia

This post is long overdue. I’ve been busy.

Over the recent Easter long weekend we went to stay with our daughter in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. On the Sunday we travelled further north to the town of Peterborough. This was where my wife grew up and in the intervening years we’ve visited many times, usually to visit family still living there.

On this occasion we also visited family and we went to see a number of exhibitions which made up a part of their annual arts festival. It left very little time for birding.

We did spend a few minutes driving through Victoria Park, an artificial lake (shown above) being the main feature of this picnic area. Due to time restraints I didn’t even have time to get out of the car, taking several shots through the window.

The photo above is unexciting as far as birds is concerned: a few Pacific Black Ducks, Grey Teal and introduced geese and mallards. The only bird of any interest was the solitary Black-tailed Native-hen feeding on the lawn. It partially disappeared from view before I could focus on it – see below.

It kind of summed up a rather poor birding day. Still, I shouldn’t complain; the art exhibitions were very interesting, and the dinner cooked by my sister-in-law was wonderful, so it wasn’t a wasted day after all.

Black-tailed Native-hen

Southern Whiteface, Peterborough, South Australia

Southern Whiteface, Peterborough, South Australia

Over the Easter weekend earlier this year we were staying with our daughter in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. While there we took a day trip to Peterborough just over an hour north of Clare. This was to visit family living there.

On the northern outskirts of the town we visited the ruins of the first house my wife lived in when she was a little girl. Near to ruins I wandered through some of the nearby scrub, an area I did extensive birding in many years ago. I was delighted to get close-up views of several Southern Whitefaces (shown in the photos today).

Southern Whitefaces are widespread in the more arid regions of the southern half of Australia. They are widespread and can be locally common in some areas of suitable habitat.

Southern Whiteface, Peterborough, South Australia