On our recent visit to the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in Sydney we went on a drive along one of the roads through the gardens. At one point we passed a small lake or dam and as we drove along I saw a few birds on the water. I stopped, backed up a little and walked across to near the bank, despite the light drizzle.
The Australasian Grebe shown in today’s photos came swimming towards me, obviously not at all concerned about my presence. I guess that with so many visitors to the area every day, they are used to humans being around quite close. Normally this species is quite timid, diving under water at any approach to the water.
Interestingly, this individual bird is in full breeding plumage, but I was unable to locate a nest.
Yesterday I was in the garden looking at one of the bushes coming into flower. Without any warning, two juvenile Striated Pardalotes landed on the fence not much more than a metre from where I stood. They looked me over for about 30 seconds before flying off.
Of course, like so many other encounters with birds, I didn’t have my camera with me because I had gone into the garden to check on the swimming pool, not thinking of seeing any birds up close.
Instead, I have posted a photo of the same species taken at one of our bird baths some time ago.
This morning my wife and I were in the sun room enjoying breakfast when a family of Superb Fairy-wrens came to the bird bath just outside the window. There was one male and two uncoloured birds, probably both females. This was delightful because we hadn’t seen or heard them in the garden for well over a week.
They stayed long enough to have a drink and a short splash in the water. It wasn’t long enough to get any photos, so I have used a photo taken some time ago. The photo above was also taken in our garden a few months ago, so it it almost certain it is the same bird as the one we saw this morning.
While we were driving through the Australian Botanic Gardens Mt Annan just before Christmas last year, we came across a small flock of Red-rumped Parrots feeding on the roadside grass. As far as I can remember, I haven’t observed this species in the Sydney region before. All that means is that I haven’t been looking in the right places and haven’t been out birding enough in Sydney. Perhaps I play with the grandchildren too much every time we go there to visit. No – never!
In this small flock I managed to get photos of a male (above) and a female (below). The male is showing the red rump (hence its name) and the female is plainer in colours.
Many people don’t like lapwings (plovers), especially the Masked Lapwing shown in today’s photos. The reasons are various, including the fact that they make their nests on the ground, usually a lawned area like that shown in today’s photos. The Australian Botanic Gardens at Mt Annan have large areas of lawn or grassy areas, suitable for picnics and large gathering such as concerts. The local community had celebrated their Christmas Carol singing for 2013 the night before we were there. While it is ideal habitat for the Lapwings, their preference brings a conflict with humans. Most people are reluctant to mow the grass or lawn while the birds are sitting on eggs.
Breeding season for the Masked Lapwing brings about another point of conflict with human occupation of the same space. Lapwings aggressively defend their nest and territory, swooping any person, dog, cat or cyclist who dares invade their domain. A screeching, swooping lapwing – it’s more of a attack fighter plane dive – is a terrifying experience for some and an unnerving encounter at best. Young children are particularly at risk. The spurs on the “elbow” of the wing can cause injury if the swooping bird contacts the intended victim. I might add that contact is rare, and injuries usually minor. Psychological damage can be the most severe outcome; some people are definitely traumatised by a close encounter.