Last night a local television channel (ABCTV1) showed a special item on the endangered Scarlet Robin in the Mt Lofty Ranges here in South Australia. I can recall only ever seeing this Robin once in the Adelaide Hills. The photo above does not do the species justice; it is a beautiful bird. It is not at all common here in in our state.
The main thrust if the short documentary was to highlight the plight of this lovely bird, and many other species of small bush birds. With the massive clearances made over the last 150 years for agriculture there is little room left for this little bird, and many others like it. One of the speakers claimed that only 7% of original bushland was still available for such birds as the Scarlet Robin. It is facing extinction in this part ofÃ‚Â Australia.
I spent some time watching the Men’s Cycling Road Race at the Beijing Olympic Games yesterday. It was freezing and showery all day here at my daughter’s place in Clare in the mid north of South Australia all day so it wasn’t conducive to getting out to do some birding anyway.
I figured that watching the cycling road race would have been a good opportunity of ticking a few birds of China – not that I’d be able to identify them. I don’t have access to a field guide to the birds of China. Still -with Phil Liggett commentating, an avid birder himself, there was a chance the cameras might focus briefly on a bird and he would comment on it, hopefully giving its name.
No such luck.
In fact, I didn’t see a bird at any time during the race. And then the result of the race was also disappointing – from and Aussie point of view. Same thing happened during the recent Tour de France – few birds seen during the three weeks of racing. Oh, well, all that means is that I’ll have to visit those places in person.
Just a short while ago I had the delight of watching Australia – Land of Parrots on ABC TV. It was a brilliant programme highlighting the behaviour of many of our wonderful parrots. While it didn’t cover all of the parrots of Australia it gave a good coverage of several species.
I found the section on the bizarre – and rather unique – breeding habits of the Eclectus Parrots to be quite fascinating. Apparently, the female stays in the nest hollow for many months and the male comes to feed her. Furthermore, the male often mates with several other females in his territory during the breeding season, as does the female. This species is also unusual in that the female is the more colourful of the two.
The photos shown above were taken of some captive birds in a walk through aviary in the Adelaide Zoo. This species is quite commonly kept in captivity, though very expensive to buy I believe.
Yes – this blog is supposed to be about Australian birds, I know.
This evening, however, our local ABC Television station showed a programme called “Flying Home” about Whooping Cranes. Scientists are trying to save this endangered species by showing them a new migration route from Wisconsin to Florida. They use various techniques to help the birds act as normally as possible. By training them to follow several ultra light planes to a wintering area in Florida they hope to eventually establish a range of Whooping Crane colonies in separate parts of the country, thus enhancing the survival chances of this species.
It was an interesting documentary with some good photography; what else would one expect from the BBC Natural History Unit? The programme also makes a case against the annual shooting of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, which are not endangered.
The narration, however, was rather appalling. Whoever wrote it deserves a few basic lessons, like being forced to view several hundred hours of David Attenborough’s work.
It is natural to make comparisons with the beautiful semi-fictional movie length “Fly Away Home” which features Canada Geese. While the techniques and photography in both are quite brilliant, that’s where the similarities end. The movie has a tension that makes it compelling viewing. This documentary was, at times, dull enough to induce yawns.
UPDATE: these cranes have been in the news again – for the wrong reasons. Recent storms have killed some of the cranes. Read about it here.
The current Test Cricket match between Australia and England is being played at the beautiful Adelaide Oval in South Australia. Since England won back the coveted Ashes Trophy last year in England there has been great interest in this current series. Usually my daughter and I attend at least one day of the Adelaide Test Match every year. Because of the intense interest in this series I, along with many tens of thousands of other cricket enthusiasts, was unable to get any tickets.
So I am confined to the comfort of watching the cricket from my favourite chair in the lounge room. That is no excuse for not doing some birding. The Adelaide Oval is well known for the hundreds of Silver Gulls that congregate on the grass during the match. The numbers seem to increase as the day progresses. I guess they come to help clean up the mess left by the crowd, things like dropped chips, meat pies, bits of rolls and other items of food from the fast food outlets.
Other species have noticed during the telecast of this test match are Welcome Swallows and Magpie Larks. On my various visits to the oval for cricket matches I have seen the following species:
- Silver Gull
- Pacific Black Duck (the River Torrens is just a few metres south of the oval)
- Rock Dove
- Spotted Turtle Dove
- Crested Pigeon
- Rainbow Lorikeets
- Adelaide (Crimson) Rosella
- Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo
- Welcome Swallow
- Tree Martin
- Willie Wagtail
- White Plumed Honeyeater
- Red Wattlebird
- Noisy Miner
- Magpie Lark
- Australian Magpie
- Little Raven
- Common Starling
- House Sparrow
This certainly is a good list. Many more species could be added if I included the nearby River Torrens and the parklands. Watching the birds during slow periods of play maintains one’s interest, to be sure. The photo below was taken several years ago during and interstate match. The white patch on the grass centre right is a large flock of Silver Gulls.