Sydney Trip Report June 2011
On the first day of our journey home we stopped briefly in the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens for an afternoon cuppa and toilet break, a spot we’ve enjoyed on other occasions. The large rural city of Wagga Wagga is worth a longer stay than just a half hour or so. I’d really like to explore this lovely city and the region in more depth one day. We always seem to be in a rush somewhere when we go through this area. [Sigh]
One this occasion it was quite late in the afternoon, still cold and cloudy and we still had about an hour’s drive to our accommodation for the night in Narrandera further west. I didn’t have much time for birding nor photography, though I did get some nice shots of Australian Magpies and Grevilleas (native Australian plants).
Other birds seen included:
- Pied Currawong,
- Rainbow Lorikeets,
- White-plumed Honeyeaters,
- Red Wattlebirds,
- Crested Pigeons,
On our trip to Sydney last week, we stopped for a brief rest at the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens. This is one of our favourite stopping places on our way from home in Murray Bridge, South Australia, when we are going to Sydney to visit family. On this occasion, we stopped there to have morning tea, and to change drivers.
The botanic gardens in Wagga Wagga have a good representative range of both Australian and exotic plants. The gardens are beautifully set out with plenty of areas of lawn for visitors to have picnics. The good range of plants means that visitors can see something flowering at most times of the year. This also means that there is also a good range of birds present in the gardens and the surrounding environment no matter when one visits.
On this occasion, we were somewhat pressed for time, so I only had the chance to make a small list of the birds I saw. I didn’t even get my camera out, so the photos in today’s post were taken a few weeks ago near our home. I was in the middle of having a cup of tea and looking around at the flowering Grevilleas and Callistomens in the Australian Native Garden section.
I saw a Red Wattlebird land in the bush next to me. I thought it was about to feed on the many flowers in this bush. Instead, as it perched there, it screeched at me – as if it was growling at me. It flew off briefly, returning very low over my head and clacking its beak as it again flew into the bush. It repeated this action several times, each time swooping low over my head. It seemed to be irritated by my presence.
Its next action revealed its true intention. A small crumb from my piece of cake fell to the ground. Immediately, the Wattlebird swooped down and picked it up. It was obviously calling to me to feed it some cake. I guess many visitors do feed the birds during their picnics. In Australia, this is discouraged because many forms of human food are actually harmful to our birds. There is no reason to feed our birds because they have access to a wide range of natural foods.
The most interesting thing about this close encounter was that this individual had learned to swoop humans in order to get food handed to it. I have been swooped by Wattlebirds before, but it is a fairly rare occurrence in my experience.
- The problem of swooping magpies
- Do Blackbirds swoop? Dealing with aggressive birds.
- Pesky Plovers – dealing with swooping birds
After nearly three weeks visiting family in Sydney and playing with our delightful grandchildren, we are on our way home again. We have reached Narrandera in the Riverina region of New South Wales. This is one of our regular stops on our way to and from Sydney.
We treated ourselves to a wonderful meal for dinner at the Hing Wah Chinese Restaurant in the main street. The food was delicious and the service excellent. I highly recommend this eatery. On our way back to our cabin in the caravan park we nearly hit an owl as it crossed the road in front of our car.
I am not sure what species it was but from its colour – mostly brown – and size it was possibly a Tawny Frogmouth or a Boobook Owl. It certainly did not have the lighter colours of a Barn Owl, and it was too big to be an Owlet Nightjar. It made a good ending to a rather poor birding journey today. Between Sydney and here we saw very few birds, except for a half hour stop for afternoon tea at the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens.
UPDATE: at 5:30am the next morning I heard the call of a Southern Boobook Owl just outside our cabin in the caravan park where we were staying for the night. It was good to have my initial identification confirmed.
On our recent trip to Sydney we stopped quite a few times for a meal break, to refuel or to change drivers. Generally we choose meals breaks where we know we have a good chance of seeing at least some birds. We’ve travelled this route many times in the last 15 years so we can visit family who live in Sydney. These trips have become very regular in the last four years. Grandchildren (ages nearly 5 and nearly 2) are something of an added attraction these days.
On our most recent trip a few weeks’ ago we didn’t get any chances to get out birding in the Sydney region itself. The first 10 days were very wet and cold, and them I spent the rest of the time confined to quarters with bronchitis. I’m still not fully over it three weeks later.
I did manage a little birding at meal breaks on our return journey. We were planning on stopping at the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens on the first day of our return trip, but fading light and a bitterly cold wind convinced us to press on towards Narrandera for the night. Just east of Wagga Wagga we stopped at a roadside rest area in the Borambola district to change drivers. As I opened the car door my attention was immediately caught by a bird call. It was coming from a eucalyptus tree some twenty metres from where we’d parked the car. I whipped out the binoculars – sadly they’d been neglected for most of our trip – and searched for the bird. Eventually I found it sitting right at the outer foliage of a tall tree, with only its head and neck showing. Too high for a photo and only just enough of the bird showing to give positive identification.
This was only about the third time I’ve seen a Superb Parrot, aptly named for its wonderful colours. Because I didn’t get a photo on this occasion I’ve used one I took in an aviary at the Adelaide Zoo a few years ago.
To all my regular readers I’m sorry there has been quite a delay since my last post here. I’ve been busy finishing off the academic year and getting snowed under a little with all the end of semester marking. Nearly there.
I ignored the assignments waiting for my attention today because it’s my birthday.
I had a relaxing day, didn’t pressure myself in any way, enjoyed the lovely spring sunshine and gentle breeze. The highlight of the day was chatting via Skype with my grandchildren in Sydney. Precious times. Nearly went out birding, but didn’t in the end.
Instead of showing a photo taken today, I looked through my photo album to share one not seen here before. The shot above was taken a few weeks ago on our way back from Sydney. It shows a very obliging White-faced Heron feeding on one of the grassy areas in the beautiful Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens.