Last week I had a close encounter with a very uncooperative Eastern Spinebill (see photo above) in the Ku Ring Gai Wildflowers Gardens in St Ives in Sydney. My wife and I enjoy visiting these gardens every time we come to stay with family in Sydney. Usually, there are many Australian native plants in flower. This year, however, it has been very dry in recent months in the Sydney region, so the flowering was not as good as we had expected. I still managed a few good photos, some of which are shown at the end of this post.
When the gardens are in full flower they can be wonderful. The numerous honeyeaters in this part of Australia flock to gardens and national parks like this and the birding can be wonderful. On this occasion, the bird life was very quiet and the Eastern Spinebill and the Little Wattlebird (see photo below) were the only honeyeater species present the day I visited.
Although I saw quite a few spinebills, the only photo I managed was the one above. The bird I managed a shot of turned its back at the crucial moment. It then flew off before I could get another photo. Such is the life of a nature photographer.
On my wanderings around the various paths in the gardens, I managed only a moderate list of birds. It was one of those slow birding days and not much was calling or coming into view of my binoculars. I managed a few photos of an Australian Raven (see photo below) and a very poor shot of two Laughing Kookaburras (not shown here because it was not in focus because they were too far away and then flew off before I could get closer).
Other birds seen or heard include:
- Striated Thornbill
- Eastern Yellow Robin
- Rainbow Lorikeet
- Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
- Australian Brushturkey
- Magpie Lark
- Eastern Whipbird
- Pied Currawong
Interestingly, I did not see any Australian Magpies on this visit. I usually see a few in the picnic areas. Nor did I see any of the resident Swamp Wallabies which often come out of the bush into the picnic areas as well.
Now for something different. Below, I have included some more photos taken in the gardens. These are some of the beautiful native plants flowering at the moment.
Whenever we visit our son and his family in Sydney, we try to spend at least a few hours in the Ku Ring Gai Wildflower Gardens. These gardens are about a half-hour drive from his home. The gardens feature a section which has been planted with Australian Native Plants, and the remainder of the gardens is natural scrubland.
There is an excellent new Visitor Centre, manned by helpful, friendly staff. Attached to the centre, there is a small nursery with Australian plants for sale. Groups may organise guided tours of the gardens and sections can be hired for functions, such as children’s birthday parties. To hire the facilities, contact the Ku Ring Gai Council. There are also many walking and cycling tracks throughout the gardens, many of them wheelchair friendly.
On our most recent visit, we had morning tea in one of the picnic areas before going on one of the walks. Later we explored another part of the gardens before moving to a third area for lunch. In all of this time, I had my binoculars and camera at the ready. These gardens can be frustrating at times. On occasions, the garden is filled with birdsong and I have found it hard to keep up with making a list of species seen or heard.
This time, however, although I could hear a few birds, many of them remained frustratingly out of view of my binoculars, as well as hard to find with my camera. Small birds, feeding the upper canopy of tall trees and bushes, make it very hard to get any good shots at all. Although I managed a few photos, I am not happy with any of them. I will just have to go back on our next visit to Sydney.
One of the birds I was able to photograph was the one above. It is a very poor shot and I think that it is a Striated Thornbill, a common species in these gardens. I hope that I can get a better shot on my next visit. In order to get one, the birds will have to sit still a lot longer than they do now. Perhaps someone could train a few for me.
Just after taken the photo of the thornbill, I saw what I think is a Yellow-faced Honeyeater feeding in the tree high above me (see photo above). I was looking almost directly straight up, and the bird stayed high in the foliage. I can just make out the yellow patch on the face next to the eyes.
While I had a frustrating time photographing the birds, some of the flowers were far more cooperative. While there was not all that much flowering, I still managed a few good shots (see above and below).
As a bonus, I managed a nice shot of a Varied Sword-grass Brown butterfly.
Go to the bottom of this post to see links to other posts about these gardens.
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.
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.
Earlier this year my wife and I travelled to Sydney to visit our son and his family. We always enjoy the long trip because when we get there our grandchildren are always so pleased to see us. We love spending time with them. On this occasion, we went for a drive with our son to the Ku Ring Gai Wildflower Gardens in St Ives. We try to get there every time we visit Sydney. The wildflowers are usually very interesting, and sometimes the birding can be good too.
On this occasion, we were pestered by an Australian Brush Turkey (see photo above). It came wandering through the picnic area where we were sitting having a snack for afternoon tea. I guess it thought that we were good for a handout. We had some biscuits but the bird was out of luck. We don’t feed our native birds because human food can be dangerous – even deadly – to them.
In frustration, the turkey decided that there must be something it could salvage from our bags. My camera bag was sitting on the grass no more than 30 centimetres from my son, but this didn’t deter it. The cheeky bird pecked at it, thinking it might find something inside. It was out of luck.
These gardens are wonderful for exploring because there are many walking and cycling tracks throughout the park. We have visited on many occasions and there always seems to be something flowering. Below I have posted a few of the flower photos I took on this visit. These are just a small sample of the many plants in this location.
- Five reasons to love Brush Turkeys – from the ABC website
Last week I wrote about the Tree Martins I saw and photographed at the Pangarinda Botanic Gardens near Wellington in South Australia. We were having an afternoon relaxing in the gardens to celebrate my wife’s birthday. You can read about the Tree Martins here.
While we were having a cuppa and some birthday cake with our friends I was taking note of all the birds I saw and heard. It was a lovely sunny day with a cooling breeze making the afternoon very pleasant indeed.
During the afternoon we saw and heard many birds, including plenty of New Holland Honeyeaters, both Red and Little Wattlebirds, Rainbow Bee-eaters, White-browed Babblers and even several Brown Quail. Go to the reading list at the end of this post for a link to the article about the quail.
While we were sitting at the picnic table having our afternoon cuppa a Whistling Kite soared overhead a number of times. I managed to get one reasonable photo, the one shown above. I still have yet to master the art of taking photos of birds in flight. The other shots are either too blurry, or too far away to be useful.
Whistling Kites are quite common along the Murray River in South Australia. The botanic gardens at Wellington are barely 500 metres from the river and possibly even closer to some of the reed-covered banks nearby, so I was not surprised to see one overhead. In fact, this species is common throughout most of mainland Australia where suitable habitat exists. Their preferred habitat includes open woodlands usually near water, along creeks, rivers, lakes and swamps where there are suitable nesting and roosting trees. They occasionally can be seen in Tasmania too.