I had almost finished dressing this morning when my wife called to me from the kitchen. She had just seen a bird she didn’t recognise fly onto the branch of a tree in our garden. I grabbed the camera and headed out to capture said bird on film – well, digitally, anyway.
It turned out to be a very downy young Grey Currawong waiting patiently for the parents to come feed it. Both parents were hovering in the background waiting for me to move back indoors. Later, from a distance, I saw another young bird being fed in trees a little further distance from the house.
Only a few days ago I was wondering why we hadn’t seen any currawongs in our garden recently. They must have been nesting elsewhere and busy feeding these two large babies. Nice to have them around again, though the smaller birds like the honeyeaters detest them, especially when they still have young in the nest. A baby honeyeater, pardalote or thornbill makes a tasty meal for a fast growing currawong.
We have a pair of Willie Wagtails who live in our garden. They often come very close to us as we work in the garden, especially when we are weeding or digging the garden beds. They are quite unafraid of us. Every year they build a nest somewhere near the house. Quite often they will even have a second brood of young ones.
This year I noticed them building a nest a few days before we went to Sydney for just over two weeks. I checked on our return and one of the adults was sitting on the nest; I didn’t know if there were eggs or chicks in the nest and didn’t want to disturb the parent bird. Now two weeks later and the nest is empty – in fact, it’s on the ground.
Enough time has elapsed for the eggs to have hatched and the young to have flown. Strange then that we haven’t seen the little ones begging to be fed. I suspect that the nest may have been raided by some form of predator: raven, magpie, currawong, falcon – even a stray cat that has been lurking in the vicinity.
All I can hope is that they decide to nest again – in a more secure location.
In my posting yesterday here I mentioned that we recently went on a road trip to Sydney to help out our family living there. At a distance of just over 1300km it is a significant journey to undertake, fully two days of travelling. We’ve done this journey many times over the last 15 years, and now we have the incentive of visiting our only grandchildren in the process.
Because the journey takes up most of the two days there are few opportunities for birding along the way – except from the car while speeding along at over 100kph. It always delights me when I see something special, like the Banded Lapwings yesterday. I usually make a list of the species seen along the way.
One bird species I always look for in the early stages of the trip is the Emu. The western plains of NSW are good habitat for this species and we usually see one or two small flocks. On this occasion we saw two separate groups, the second one being a male adult bird accompanied by about 4 or 5 half grown chicks, a little bigger than those shown in the photo above. This photo was taken some time ago in Monarto Zoo which is close to our home, being only about a 15 minute drive away.
A few weeks ago we had a family reunion barbecue at our home for the occasion of my grandson’s 3rd birthday. He was over here from Sydney. Family also came down from the mid north of South Australia for the get together.
Later in the afternoon we had a picnic at Sturt Reserve near the banks of the Murray River here in Murray Bridge. With four children under the age of 9 we thought it good for them to burn off some energy on the playground before they undertook the long journey home.
I took my young nephew on a walk along the river bank. At one point we stopped to watch the local Bunyip – the only specimen of this fearsome mythological creature in captivity. It’s well trained; on inserting a dollar coin in the slot it will rise up out of its watery bed and roar in a frightening way.
While we were watching the monster strut its stuff I was aware of some Welcome Swallows flying in and out of the cage. One swallow was not flying much and I realised it was a recently fledged bird. It posed obligingly for my camera, and watched me from about a metre away.
Bird photography doesn’t get any better than that.
Warning: Don’t get frightened as you scroll down through the photos below because there is a photo of the dreaded Bunyip.
I had suspected that our resident pair of Willie Wagtails have been nesting somewhere in our mallee scrub but hadn’t been able to locate the nest. They can be very sneaky and secretive about the whole affair.
Then a few days ago I was cleaning up in an area of the scrub not frequented all that often and I was attacked by the adults. Not that they actually hit or bit me; they just made it quite obvious by their scotching calls and close swooping over my head that I was not welcome.
Sure enough – three fluffy chicks were over filling a totally inadequate nest. The photo above shows their home almost bursting at the seams.
I took the photo a few weeks ago and the chicks have now fledged and are making their presence known around the garden, demanding food from a harried set of parents struggling to keep up with their insistent calling for food.
The next question is: will the parents nest again once this brood is off their hands… er… beaks and feeding themselves independently?
The photo of some fledged Willie Wagtails was taken a few years ago at the same location.