Archive for the 'Animals' Category

Upset New Holland Honeyeaters

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

Last week my wife and I were sitting on our back veranda having lunch. We were enjoying a brief burst of spring weather and the sun was most welcome. We have had a long stretch of very cold, showery, wintery weather for well over a month, so the change was very much appreciated.

I often have my binoculars at the ready in case I want to check out any of the many birds we see in our garden. Sometimes I even have my camera at the ready, too. As we were enjoying a cup of tea after lunch, a flock of about a dozen New Holland Honeyeaters set up a terrible racket in the bushes about ten metres from where we were sitting. I immediately thought that their warning calls meant that there was a bird of prey in the sky overhead, or else it was in the trees nearby.

On looking around, and checking the sky, I could not see any evidence of anything they could be getting upset over. All of the honeyeaters kept calling and fluttering around, obviously quite agitated by something on the ground. I cautiously walked towards them. They took no notice of my presence and kept calling loudly.

Snake!

A metre long Eastern Brown Snake was trying to stay inconspicuous in the shadows, but I caught a glimpse of it as it made its escape into the undergrowth – and away from the keen eyes of the resident honeyeaters. I slowly made my retreat, intent on not getting too close to one of the world’s deadliest reptiles right there in our garden.

Every summer we usually see one or two Brown Snakes in our garden, on our five-acre property, or crossing the road leading to our home. We usually give them a wide berth when we see one and never try to get too close. They don’t bother us and we don’t bother them. I prefer to let them be because not only are they protected under our laws, they also do us the service of keeping mice and rat numbers down to a manageable level. My only concern was that this was rather early in spring for our first sighting; summer won’t start until December.

I guess that we will have to keep an eye out for them in the coming months. Proceed with caution.

Further reading:

Eastern Brown Snake at our bird bath

Eastern Brown Snake at our bird bath

Ku Ring Gai Wildflower Gardens – more than flowers

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Yesterday I wrote about a visit to the Ku Ring Gai Wildflower Garden in St Ives in northern Sydney earlier this year. On that occasion, we were annoyed by a rather pesky Australian Brush Turkey which thought it had a right to some of our afternoon tea. It went away disappointed.

These gardens are a nature lover’s delight. Not only is there a good number and variety of birds present, but one can wander along the many walking and cycling tracks throughout the park, enjoying nature up close. As we were having our snack we were delighted to see a Swamp Wallaby carrying a joey in its pouch (see photo below). This was a real delight for our five-year-old grand-daughter.

Swamp Wallaby and joey

Swamp Wallaby and joey

Many other items intrigued our grand-daughter as she clambered through the bush with her grandmother. The fungi shown below held her attention for a while, not mean feat because she is always on the go.

She was also interested in the many flowers in bloom along the walking tracks. Knowing that her grandmother was interested in the flowers, she would race ahead, pointing out the new plant in bloom. She often became frustrated when we stopped too long to take photos of the flowers. Some of these are shown below.

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Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

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Grevillea

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Wildflower

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Spear Lily

Bird baths are not just for birds

Brown Snake at our bird bath

Eastern Brown Snake at our bird bath

Over the many years that we have had several bird baths in our garden we have seen many different kinds of birds visit for a drink or a bath – many times both. You can see a full list here.

Several of our bird baths are located in the garden close to our sun room, a place where we read the paper and often have our meals. The large picture window gives us a good view of that part of the garden and I often sit there with my camera at the ready. The room provides me with an excellent bird hide. Many of the photos I have shared on this site have been taken in this way.

Over the last few months I have often written about the extreme heat we have experienced here in South Australia over that period. Sure, we always expect some hot days in the 40 – 45 degree range (45C = 113F) but this summer – and the spring before it – has been exceptionally hot, breaking many records. Ironically, I am writing this on a quite cold day. It is currently only 20C and I have just decided that I might need some warmer clothing on.

On a hot day earlier this week we were sitting at the table when my wife spotted a metre long Eastern Brown Snake coming towards one of the bird baths. We were able to observe it for about five minutes. It actually stopped and had quite a long drink – perhaps for 20 – 30 seconds (see photos below). Although one individual approached quite close to the same bird bath some years ago, this is the first time I have observed one drinking.

Our five acre block of land on the outskirts of Murray Bridge has many of the typical habitat features preferred by this species. Although this is regarded as the world’s second most venomous snake, we are not overly concerned with their obvious presence near our home. If we leave them alone they just go about their lives in a non-threatening manner. Although several are probably resident on our property, we probably only see this species two or three times a year.

In reality we appreciate having them around. Our mouse and rat problem would be so much worse without them about. On only three occasions over 30 years of living here have we been concerned. The worst was when one found its way into the house; we were able to help it find an open door using a large piece of cardboard. The second was when a baby snake came towards me in our swimming pool. Babies can be just as dangerous as adults. The third occasion was one sunning itself in the entrance of my wife’s garden shed. All of these were unsettling events, but we avoided any harm.

Further reading:

Eastern Brown Snake at our bird bath

Eastern Brown Snake at our bird bath

Eastern Brown Snake at our bird bath

Eastern Brown Snake at our bird bath

A swamphen and some lemurs

Ring-tailed Lemur, Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo

Ring-tailed Lemur, Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo

Over the last few weeks I have been sharing photos of some of the birds I saw while visiting the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, NSW. On another occasion  I commented that all of the birds seen in the zoo are actually birds that are free and not part of the exhibits. I also commented that many of these birds have adapted to the feeding times of the various animals – a free feed, so to speak.

The Purple Swamphen (see photo below) is one such bird. It was skulking around, perched on a flimsy branch of a tree, waiting for the Ring-tailed Lemurs (see photo above) to finish eating their dinner.

Purple Swamphen, Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo

Purple Swamphen, Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo

 

Two interesting birding blogs

It has been a while since I last featured other birding blogs here on my site. With all the writing I do, and other pressing responsibilities that life hurls at me from time to time, I don’t get nearly enough time to read many other sites about birds.

I hope to correct that oversight in coming weeks. Today I am going to feature two contrasting yet wonderful blogs, one about wildlife in general and the other specifically about birds and as a bonus, an article about bird photography.

Naturally South Australia features the ‘fascinating wild places and animals that define South Australia.’ Written and photographed by South Australian teacher and author Barry Silkstone, this blog highlights many of the things I love about my state. Of course he features many bird photos on a regular basis, and as a bonus you get photos of our animals as well. As a further bonus he writes about and photographs many of the places that make South Australia such a wonderful holiday destination, as well as a great place to live.

On the other hand Lirra Lirra: the magical mystery of birds is something else again. The author features only birds with photographs of the highest quality. Just the few featured on one recent post about Fairy-wrens made me almost weep for joy and total admiration – no, I am in awe. This site sent me scurrying to first check my bank balance, and then some camera shop sites. I thought some of my photos were rather good – until I saw this site. I really need to upgrade my camera equipment. Seriously upgrade. Sigh.

And while I am on the topic of bird photography, a few days ago I came across this article called 10 Tips for Photographing Birds. It includes some great ideas and hints on taking great shots of our wonderful birdlife.

Good birding – happy photography.

Trevor