It is quite a common sight to see small flocks of Australian Wood Ducks in many places around Australia where they occur. Sometimes they even gather in loose flocks of many dozens – even hundreds. They are often seen grazing on grasslands, ovals, lawned areas in parklands and along water courses, lakes and wetlands.
The group shown in today’s photos were seen near a watercourse in the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown. It appears to be a family group with the mother leading the way and all the offspring following. The gardens see many hundreds of visitors daily, so these birds – even the younger one – were not all concerned by our presence. I’ve experienced that lack of timidity in this species when visiting other parks and gardens. It certainly makes photography much easier when the birds hang around – almost as if they are posing deliberately for my camera!
One of the more delightful sightings during our recent visit to the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in Sydney was this male Eastern (Common) Koel. This is one species I’ve often heard on my visits to family in Sydney – but rarely seen. It’s quite common around suburban Sydney – it is just that it has eluded my binoculars on most occasions – and all previous sightings I didn’t have my camera at the ready. This time was different. It sat calling for a minute or two in full view of my camera, and while it is not quite in focus, it is better than no photo at all.
Eastern Koels are found down the eastern seaboard of Australia and across the north coast. Like the cuckoos, it lays its eggs in the nest of other birds. Its name comes from the loud, echoing “ko-ell” call it makes, over and over.
On our recent visit to the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in Sydney we went on a drive along one of the roads through the gardens. At one point we passed a small lake or dam and as we drove along I saw a few birds on the water. I stopped, backed up a little and walked across to near the bank, despite the light drizzle.
The Australasian Grebe shown in today’s photos came swimming towards me, obviously not at all concerned about my presence. I guess that with so many visitors to the area every day, they are used to humans being around quite close. Normally this species is quite timid, diving under water at any approach to the water.
Interestingly, this individual bird is in full breeding plumage, but I was unable to locate a nest.
While we were driving through the Australian Botanic Gardens Mt Annan just before Christmas last year, we came across a small flock of Red-rumped Parrots feeding on the roadside grass. As far as I can remember, I haven’t observed this species in the Sydney region before. All that means is that I haven’t been looking in the right places and haven’t been out birding enough in Sydney. Perhaps I play with the grandchildren too much every time we go there to visit. No – never!
In this small flock I managed to get photos of a male (above) and a female (below). The male is showing the red rump (hence its name) and the female is plainer in colours.
On my recent visit to the Australian Botanic Garden Mt Annan in the south east of greater Sydney, I was immediately drawn to the wet fern gully just south of the Visitor Centre. One of my favourite birds, the Rufous Fantail, had been sighted there only a few days before. I hadn’t seen this species for over a decade, mainly because I don’t go birding in the right places, or at the right time. One can only hope.
I could hear birds all around. Most were being very noisy – but also very secretive. Some calls I was not familiar with, being from a different part of Australia. Eventually a solitary Red-whiskered Bulbul showed itself briefly. Not in ideal light conditions, nor close enough for a good photo, but long enough for several shots. The one above is the best of them. Next time, perhaps. Oh, the joys of bird photography. (You can see a better photo I took some time ago here.)
Still, I had much more luck with the flowering Eucalypt tree shown below. At least flowers tend to be in sun – and they generally stand still, though I have known a few flowers which were hard to shoot because of the wild wind.