During my stay in Lake Cargelligo last month, I planned on staying two nights and having a full day of birding around the district. My main aim was to visit the Round Hill Nature Reserve north-west of Lake Cargelligo. I had previously experienced this reserve some 12 years ago. You can read about that visit in the further reading section below.
The whole region around this reserve and for a radius of over 100 kilometres there was evidence of recent heavy rain. Lake Cargelligo had recorded over 50 mm (2 inches) of rain in the days just before I arrived. I was therefore very cautious about getting off the sealed road and onto the dirt tracks leading through the reserve. I did manage to briefly get bogged in the mud at one point, but fortunately, the front wheels were on firm ground and putting my vehicle briefly into 4WD got me out in seconds.
I found a good spot on the firm ground off the track to park and have my packed lunch and a cup of tea. While I ate and drank I kept a record of the birds I saw and heard. It was disappointing, however, that the bush surrounding me was very quiet. I had observed on the way in that not many of the mallee trees were in flower. Consequently, there were very few honeyeaters around. I did get one reasonable photo of a White-eared Honeyeater (see photo below). That was the only glimpse of this bird I had and you can only just see the white patch on its ear.
I the distance I could hear a Crested Bellbird but it seemed too far off to chase up for a photo. Two Ringneck Parrots flew past me at one point. They were probably the Mallee Ringneck sub-species. At one point I saw a single bird that puzzled me. I chased after it and approached reasonably close but the light was coming from behind the bird making identification difficult. It was not doing anything of note, nor did it call. These are clues helping one to identify a bird. I managed a few photos but didn’t hold out much hope of getting a good shot.
Thankfully, by enhancing the photos digitally a little I could easily see that I had seen a Spotted Bowerbird, not a species I have seen often in my travelling (photo below).
After lunch, I moved to a short track on top of the crest in the road, right next to Round Hill itself. This proved far more fruitful and I added the following species to my modest list:
- Australian Raven: several seen and others calling.
- Weebill – about 8 seen and others calling.
- Yellow-rumped Thornbill – about five seen and one photographed (see below).
- Chestnut-rumped Thornbill – only one sighted briefly.
- Varied Sittella – a small group of 4 which moved on before I could focus my camera on them.
- Australian Magpie – several seen along the road.
- Rufous Whistler – one calling nearby.
- Grey Shrike-thrush – one calling nearby.
- Spiny-cheeked honeyeater – just one seen.
The only other bird I saw was a male Red-capped Robin. I remember taking a photo of a male robin in exactly the same spot on my visit 12 years ago. This time I was not so lucky. I waited patiently for some time for the bird to come into view again but to no avail.
I will post another trip report in a few days’ time.
On my way to Sydney to visit family earlier this month, I stopped to have lunch by Lake Cullulleraine in the north-western part of Victoria. This lake is a picturesque spot about a half-hour drive west of Mildura. Many years ago, my wife and I had a wonderful week staying at the nearby caravan park. on this occasion, however, I only had about twenty minutes before heading off.
As I ate my lunch I could see and hear a small family of Apostlebirds feeding on the lawn about 50 metres away. They gradually worked their way along the edge of the lawn towards where I had parked the car. This was only a small family group of five individuals. I am used to seeing much larger groups of 10, 12 or even more.
As I packed up my lunch box and finished my cup of tea, the small group worked along the dirt track towards my car. I didn’t even have to use the zoom lens on my camera to get a series of close-up photos. They were quite content to come right up close to where I was standing. This is quite typical behaviour of this species. Whenever they are present in parks, gardens, caravan parks, picnic grounds and so forth, they become accustomed to people and will approach to within a metre or two. I have even had them jump up onto a picnic table while trying to eat my dinner. On that occasion, one bird came close to snatching my food. They certainly can be cheeky.
While some people might look down on this species as not being very colourful – they certainly are drab looking – they make up for it with their quirky and endearing behaviours. Except when they try to snatch your food.
I saw a new bird for my Life List yesterday.
A Life List is a list of all the birds a birder has seen. A “lifer” is a bird species seen for the very first time. It is easy to add lifers when travelling in a country for the first time. It is much harder to get one in your home country. It has been several years since I added another bird to my life list. I guess I need to get out more, especially in parts of Australia I haven’t been to yet. Say, ALL of Queensland and ALL of the Northern Territory and ALL of Tasmania.
Lane Cove National Park, Sydney
I spent a few hours yesterday in one of my favourite birding spots, Lane Cove National Park in Sydney. This delightful park has many well-kept picnic areas with toilets and barbecue facilities. It is also very accessible, being about ten minutes west of Chatswood and about 20 minutes drive from the Sydney Harbour Bridge (depending on traffic conditions.). I am fortunate that this park is so accessible from my son’s home in Artarmon. It is easy to see why this has become a favourite birding spot for me.
The bird in question, as shown in today’s photos, is the Rose Robin. It is a delightful bird with soft rose-coloured breast feathers. Until I saw it, I didn’t fully appreciate its delicate colouring. The females and juveniles lack the bright colours of the males, though some females may have a faint wash of pink. The birds feed on insects.
The Rose Robin has a widespread distribution, from south-east Queensland, through the eastern ranges of New South Wales, throughout southern Victoria and occasionally into South Australia.
You can read more about the Rose Robin on the Birds in Backyards site here.
I have recently travelled from my home in Murray Bridge, South Australia to Sydney. Along the way I stopped many times to do some birding and, where possible, take some photos of the birds I saw. On the first day of my journey, I stopped for lunch at Lake Cullulleraine which is a small community on the banks of this lovely lake. It is about a half hour drive west of Mildura in the far north-western part of Victoria.
After having my lunch I slowly drove around the area adjacent to the lakeside picnic area. In this part of the small town is a well-kept football oval as well as grass tennis courts. I saw a few Red-rumped Parrots. a small group of Masked Lapwings patrolling the grass and several Australian Magpies and Magpie Larks. On the netting around the tennis courts, I saw perched an adult plumage Pied Butcherbird. This bird is the subject of today’s photos.
Grey Butcherbirds are relatively common and widespread in the area where I live. But for Pied Butcherbirds, I generally have to travel some distance north or east to see this species, though I have recorded it once just south of Murray Bridge. Grey Butcherbirds are regular visitors to my garden but I have never recorded a Pied Butcherbird at home. My records go back over 35 years. On the rest of my journey to Sydney, I saw Pied Butcherbirds frequently as I drove along. On the other hand, where I am staying in Artarmon, Sydney, I have only ever seen Grey Butcherbirds despite both species being present throughout this area. This is probably just a case of not being in the right place at the right time.
For further reading, just click on one of the bird species mentioned in this post.
Earlier this year I went for a Saturday afternoon drive to the Lowan Conservation Park near Bowhill north-east of my hometown of Murray Bridge, South Australia. I needed to get out of the house after some cold wintery weather, and my daughter had never been to this park. She had just returned home after teaching for the last two years in Ethiopia. The day promised to be sunny and calm, ideal for a picnic and a spot of birding. Over the years I have visited this small park in the mallee areas of our state on a few occasions and it sometimes throws up a few birding surprises.
As we had afternoon tea – a cuppa and some treats from our local bakery – we sat in the afternoon sunshine. My daughter had her current book to read (Tim Winton’s The Shepherd’s Hut) and I had my camera and binoculars at the ready. Flitting around in the nearby mallee trees was a Jacky Winter, one of our flycatcher species. It’s called a Jacky Winter possibly due to its call which sounds a bit like it is saying ‘jacky winter, jacky winter.’ At least, that’s what it sounds like to me. Another common name is ‘Peter Peter’ and that is probably a closer rendition of its call. Whatever the origin of the name, the bird is a generally unassuming little bird which can often go unnoticed in the Australian bush. More often it is sighted quietly sitting on a branch, a tree stump or fence post watching the surrounding grass intently, just waiting to snatch up a tasty morsel – a passing insect or two.
On this visit to the Lowan Conservation Park, I had good views of this bird, but I had trouble getting my camera focussed on this individual. It kept flitting around, catching afternoon tea and calling all the time. Every time I would try to focus – off it would go again. The only time it sat still enough for a shot in focus it was in the shade – see the photo above.
So that you can get a better view of this species, I have posted several photos taken two years ago in the Murray-Sunset National Park in north-west Victoria. These shots include the beginnings of a nest consisting mainly of a spider web.