Over the last few weeks we have had some violent wind storms. Spring here in South Australia can often be windy, but these were gale force winds. One afternoon earlier this week wind gusts up to 80kph were recorded many times. While we didn’t suffer any property damage others in our state were not as fortunate. One poor man even drowned when his boat was overturned in rough conditions on the River Murray upstream from my home town of Murray Bridge.
During the worst of the stormy weather I was concerned for the baby magpies in two nests within 50 metres of my office where I am writing this post. We had watched with interest when the nests were being built. Actually, they were last year’s nests which were refurbished. Then we waited while the mother birds sat patiently during the incubation period. Then over the last few weeks there was a constant begging noise from the babies.
When the first storm hit last Monday the babies were able to hang on to the nesting material. The following storms on Wednesday were even worse and the young were blown out of their cosy homes. Watching them today I suspect that they were not yet quite ready to fledge* because they are still unable to fly; they run everywhere – well, it’s more of a wobbly, unsteady waddle.
At one point the two babies from the nest closest to our house clambered up on a heap of scrap wood near the garage. I managed to get up reasonably close without spooking them, thus getting some good photos. You will notice that they are still very downy. These downy feathers will remain for some months yet. You will also notice that the nearest one has not much of a tail yet. In the first few days after fledging, they are terrible flyers as they learn how to get around; having virtually no tail does not help.
*Note: to see a definition of the word fledge click here.
- Baby Magpie – the most popular post on this site with nearly 500 comments from readers.
- Crash landing for a baby magpie
We have a family of 6 to 8 Mallee Ringneck parrots resident in our garden. We see them every day and they love feeding on the flowers of plants like the Eremophila shown in the photo above. They are also partial to our pears – before they are fully ripe. (Last summer we managed to foil them by draping bird netting over the trees. Yes!)
Quite often we have seen several of the parrots sitting at the entrance of a large hollow in one of our trees. We also see them entering and leaving this hollow. We’ve suspected that they have been nesting in this hollow, but we lacked definite proof until earlier this week.
My wife, who runs a small nursery growing Australian native plants (click to visit), was working in the nursery when she noticed a ringneck feeding a young one in the tree near her. So we can only assume that they have recently used the hollow (or another one nearby) to raise a family.
The Mallee Ringneck is a race of the Australian Ringneck.
On a recent visit to Clare late last year I took off about a half hour from helping my daughter in her garden and took a five minute walk down the road to Lake Inchiquin. Yesterday I wrote about some of the birds I saw.
One of the highlights was this little family of Pacific Black Ducks. From the size of the ducklings I’d say that they are about half grown. It was a lovely sight and they let me come to within a few metres of them.
I guess they knew that I wouldn’t dive in and harm them in any way.
Christmas greetings to all of my regular readers – and to those visiting for the very first time. Christmas in Australia is usually a special time of family gatherings, some people travelling long distances to be with family.
This Christmas we had the delight of having all of our little family together, something of a rarity as my son lives interstate. It was delight to see our two lovely grand children excitedly opening their gifts.
Because I was distracted by playing with my grand children, I didn’t get out to do any birding today. A few weeks ago, however, I took the above photo of a family of Pacific Black Ducks on the lake next to the golf course in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia.
Last week I wrote about the young Grey Currawongs being fed by the adults in our garden. They are still hanging around and squawking noisily whenever they get hungry – which seems to be most of the time.
Yesterday morning I was doing some reading in our sun room when a sudden screeching noise outside interrupted my thoughts. I grabbed the binoculars (but not the camera, alas) and raced outside. High up in the sky above our house a Little Eagle was soaring around on the gentle breeze, obviously looking for something to eat for lunch.
The eagle seemed oblivious to the fact that both currawong parents were attacking it, screeching loudly in order to chase away the offending predator. Slowly, almost nonchalantly, the eagle glided away out of sight and the currawongs calmed down and resumed feeding the young ones., and peace resumed in the garden.
More angry birds
The currawongs are not the only angry birds resident in our garden. The Australian Magpies chase off the Grey Currawongs and the White-winged choughs, the Willie Wagtails are constantly attacking all three already mentioned and the Red Wattlebirds appear to have a distinct dislike towards anything with wings, including the hapless tiny Pardalotes. This latter conflict is a real miss-matched war: wattlebirds are bout 36cm long compared with the pardalotes weighing in at only 8cm. I reckon the wattlebirds are the big bullies in our little patch.