Mallee Ringneck parrots
Australian Ringneck Parrots are one of many colourful and common members of the parrot family in Australia. There are several sub-species of the ringnecks in Australia and the one I have resident in my garden is the Mallee Ringneck, named after their favoured habitat, the eucalypt trees known as mallee trees. I regard this species as a resident bird because I observe them almost every day on my 5-acre property on the edge of Murray Bridge, South Australia. They have also nested in one of the hollows in one of my trees.
I have a number of Eremophila plants in my garden and they are all prolific when flowering, often covering the whole bush. When my wife was still alive she also loved this family of Australian native plants and she had the foresight to plant quite a few around the garden. The plant shown in today’s photos is quite close to the front door. I can stand near the window or door and observe the birds feeding on the flowers without them being aware of my presence. Of course, the many honeyeaters in my garden also like these flowers.
I love seeing the ringnecks flying around my garden and feeding on the various bushes in flower. They can be a little noisy at times, especially when three or four – or even more – decide to kick up a ruckus.
However, I do not appreciate the way they treat my pear trees when they have fruit on them. A few days ago I found out that they had been chewing at the green fruit. The pears are not much bigger than marbles, yet they seem to enjoy chewing on them. I guess that it is a small price to pay for having such a beautiful bird enjoying my garden.
Resident nesting Galahs
I live on the edge of the rural city of Murray Bridge which is about an hour’s drive from Adelaide, South Australia. We are blessed to have a variety of parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets in the region. One of the common birds in this family is the Galah. I am sure that if I took a census of this species over a whole year, there would be very few days pass without seeing at least a handful of these lovely parrots either resting in the trees in my garden, or flying overhead. On occasions, I have even seen flocks of many dozens through to many hundreds. They are a very common species in this area.
The photos shown in today’s post were all taken in my garden and all within a few minutes of each other. This hollow is in an old-growth mallee tree within about twenty metres of my back veranda. I have a comfortable chair located there and I enjoy sitting there reading – or just watching the birds all around. It is very relaxing and quite lovely that the local, resident birds just go about their activities while totally ignoring me. It also makes photography easy.
A pair of Galahs have been working at this hollow for some years. Then, about four years ago they started putting fresh eucalypt leaves in the hollow. I eagerly anticipated a nesting attempt but they abandoned their quest. About once or twice a day they would sit at the opening of the hollow and screech loudly into the hollow – then fly away.
Strange, I thought.
An interloper takes over
A few days later I discovered the reason why they hadn’t successfully nested in the hollow. I saw a Brush-tailed Possum coming out of the hollow. It had evicted the Galahs from their home. After some months I guess that the possum had moved on elsewhere. In fact, I haven’t seen one or heard one on the roof for several years now. So the Galahs returned to their home.
Success at last
During late winter last year they again started working on the hollow. During the next month or so they successfully laid eggs and raised their chicks which later fledged. This year they have again been successful. I didn’t manage to get a photo of this year’s chicks because they flew off before I could get a shot. Instead, I have included below a photo of one of the chicks from last year’s brood.
A few days after the two chicks fledged, they were precariously hanging on to the branches of the trees nearby, along with about a dozen other chicks from other parents. Most of them were calling to be fed, and as the parents came in to feed them I had a very noisy Galah nursery in my garden.
I find it interesting that I haven’t heard or seen many Grey Currawongs in my garden in recent months. I live on a five-acre block of mallee scrub, garden plants and a few fruit trees on the western edge of Murray Bridge, about an hour’s drive south-east of Adelaide, South Australia.
Currawongs are usually only occasional visitors to my garden despite the species being widespread and relatively common in this region of the state. I sometimes hear them calling up the hill from my home, usually around sunset. In past times I have heard or seen this species every few days. This year their calls and visits have been very infrequent until the last few weeks.
A family visit
A few days ago I was treated to a visit from a whole family of Grey Currawongs. I suddenly had four of them quite close to the house, one adult and three juveniles. The young ones kept begging for food while the adult was busily trying to satisfy the hungry tribe. The young ones had only just fledged and were still looking quite fluffy and a bit scruffy.
Upset local residents
With so many currawongs in a small part of my garden, it is not surprising that the local residents were quite upset. Currawongs are very quick to take advantage of a tasty morsel from another’s nest, not being fussy whether it is an egg or a chick. The local Magpie Larks were sitting on eggs just a few metres away. Their strident shrieking had little effect on the currawongs.
The local honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and a solitary Singing Honeyeater all kicked up a ruckus and the nesting Common Starlings joined in the protest as well.
After a few minutes the currawongs moved on elsewhere. Several of them have passed through my property in the days since, but the protests were much more subdued.
Magpie Larks’ nest
Magpie Larks are a resident bird species in my garden in Murray Bridge, South Australia. By “resident bird” I mean that I see them every day. The pair I have on my five-acre property on the edge of the town is also a breeding pair.
Magpie Larks are also known as Murray Magpies, Peewees (imitating their call), and Mudlarks. They are not magpies, nor are they larks. Confusing? Yep.
A cheeky falcon
This year they have nested twice. The first attempt was in a eucalypt tree next to my driveway. The mud nest was quite well camouflaged in the outer canopy of leaves – or so I thought. I found it very hard to get a photo of that nest because of the leaves and twigs nearby. Sadly, a very cheeky Brown Falcon flew in one day and took one of the chicks. Despite being chased by the parent Magpie Larks, the falcon got away with the chick in its talons.
A new attempt
Undeterred by the attack on the nest, the Magpie Lark pair tried again. This time they made their new nest in the tree near my back veranda. I could sit in my comfortable chair on the veranda and watch them build their new home. This took several weeks until they were happy with the result. Now they are sitting on eggs but I cannot tell how many; it is far too high for a ladder and it is not a good idea to disturb a bird sitting on a nest.
Guarding the nest
This time the pair of birds seems to be ready for anything. They chase off many different species who dare to come near. This includes a family of Grey Currawongs who came close a few days ago. Currawongs are not slow at taking what they want from the nests of smaller birds, whether that is eggs or young.
After their failure earlier in the season, I hope that this pair is successful in raising their chicks to maturity this time.
Yesterday I wrote about a visit from a Rosy-faced Lovebird to my garden here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. This is not an Australian native bird. Their natural habitat is in southwestern Africa, mainly Namibia, Angola and South Africa. This species is commonly kept in cages and aviaries around the world, including here in Australia. The bird I saw recently in my garden quite likely escaped from someone’s cage or aviary.
I also mentioned that I had previously recorded this species in my garden just over a year ago. Today I wanted to show the photos I took on that occasion. It looks almost as if this individual is just a little guilty about having escaped. As I speculated yesterday, this could well be the same bird I saw a few days ago, though that is unlikely given the number of birds of prey lurking all around.