Resident nesting Galahs
I live on the edge of the rural city of Murray Bridge which is about an hour’s drive from Adelaide, South Australia. We are blessed to have a variety of parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets in the region. One of the common birds in this family is the Galah. I am sure that if I took a census of this species over a whole year, there would be very few days pass without seeing at least a handful of these lovely parrots either resting in the trees in my garden, or flying overhead. On occasions, I have even seen flocks of many dozens through to many hundreds. They are a very common species in this area.
The photos shown in today’s post were all taken in my garden and all within a few minutes of each other. This hollow is in an old-growth mallee tree within about twenty metres of my back veranda. I have a comfortable chair located there and I enjoy sitting there reading – or just watching the birds all around. It is very relaxing and quite lovely that the local, resident birds just go about their activities while totally ignoring me. It also makes photography easy.
A pair of Galahs have been working at this hollow for some years. Then, about four years ago they started putting fresh eucalypt leaves in the hollow. I eagerly anticipated a nesting attempt but they abandoned their quest. About once or twice a day they would sit at the opening of the hollow and screech loudly into the hollow – then fly away.
Strange, I thought.
An interloper takes over
A few days later I discovered the reason why they hadn’t successfully nested in the hollow. I saw a Brush-tailed Possum coming out of the hollow. It had evicted the Galahs from their home. After some months I guess that the possum had moved on elsewhere. In fact, I haven’t seen one or heard one on the roof for several years now. So the Galahs returned to their home.
Success at last
During late winter last year they again started working on the hollow. During the next month or so they successfully laid eggs and raised their chicks which later fledged. This year they have again been successful. I didn’t manage to get a photo of this year’s chicks because they flew off before I could get a shot. Instead, I have included below a photo of one of the chicks from last year’s brood.
A few days after the two chicks fledged, they were precariously hanging on to the branches of the trees nearby, along with about a dozen other chicks from other parents. Most of them were calling to be fed, and as the parents came in to feed them I had a very noisy Galah nursery in my garden.
I find it interesting that I haven’t heard or seen many Grey Currawongs in my garden in recent months. I live on a five-acre block of mallee scrub, garden plants and a few fruit trees on the western edge of Murray Bridge, about an hour’s drive south-east of Adelaide, South Australia.
Currawongs are usually only occasional visitors to my garden despite the species being widespread and relatively common in this region of the state. I sometimes hear them calling up the hill from my home, usually around sunset. In past times I have heard or seen this species every few days. This year their calls and visits have been very infrequent until the last few weeks.
A family visit
A few days ago I was treated to a visit from a whole family of Grey Currawongs. I suddenly had four of them quite close to the house, one adult and three juveniles. The young ones kept begging for food while the adult was busily trying to satisfy the hungry tribe. The young ones had only just fledged and were still looking quite fluffy and a bit scruffy.
Upset local residents
With so many currawongs in a small part of my garden, it is not surprising that the local residents were quite upset. Currawongs are very quick to take advantage of a tasty morsel from another’s nest, not being fussy whether it is an egg or a chick. The local Magpie Larks were sitting on eggs just a few metres away. Their strident shrieking had little effect on the currawongs.
The local honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and a solitary Singing Honeyeater all kicked up a ruckus and the nesting Common Starlings joined in the protest as well.
After a few minutes the currawongs moved on elsewhere. Several of them have passed through my property in the days since, but the protests were much more subdued.
Magpie Larks’ nest
Magpie Larks are a resident bird species in my garden in Murray Bridge, South Australia. By “resident bird” I mean that I see them every day. The pair I have on my five-acre property on the edge of the town is also a breeding pair.
Magpie Larks are also known as Murray Magpies, Peewees (imitating their call), and Mudlarks. They are not magpies, nor are they larks. Confusing? Yep.
A cheeky falcon
This year they have nested twice. The first attempt was in a eucalypt tree next to my driveway. The mud nest was quite well camouflaged in the outer canopy of leaves – or so I thought. I found it very hard to get a photo of that nest because of the leaves and twigs nearby. Sadly, a very cheeky Brown Falcon flew in one day and took one of the chicks. Despite being chased by the parent Magpie Larks, the falcon got away with the chick in its talons.
A new attempt
Undeterred by the attack on the nest, the Magpie Lark pair tried again. This time they made their new nest in the tree near my back veranda. I could sit in my comfortable chair on the veranda and watch them build their new home. This took several weeks until they were happy with the result. Now they are sitting on eggs but I cannot tell how many; it is far too high for a ladder and it is not a good idea to disturb a bird sitting on a nest.
Guarding the nest
This time the pair of birds seems to be ready for anything. They chase off many different species who dare to come near. This includes a family of Grey Currawongs who came close a few days ago. Currawongs are not slow at taking what they want from the nests of smaller birds, whether that is eggs or young.
After their failure earlier in the season, I hope that this pair is successful in raising their chicks to maturity this time.
Yesterday I wrote about a visit from a Rosy-faced Lovebird to my garden here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. This is not an Australian native bird. Their natural habitat is in southwestern Africa, mainly Namibia, Angola and South Africa. This species is commonly kept in cages and aviaries around the world, including here in Australia. The bird I saw recently in my garden quite likely escaped from someone’s cage or aviary.
I also mentioned that I had previously recorded this species in my garden just over a year ago. Today I wanted to show the photos I took on that occasion. It looks almost as if this individual is just a little guilty about having escaped. As I speculated yesterday, this could well be the same bird I saw a few days ago, though that is unlikely given the number of birds of prey lurking all around.
I had a pleasant surprise this morning. As I opened the curtains in my bedroom I saw two Australian Wood Ducks feeding on the grass in my garden. I quickly grabbed my camera and moved outside and a little closer to them, hoping to get some good photos. They were very cooperative and stayed grazing on the grass for a few minutes before flying off. I have included below a selection of the photos I took while they lingered there nearby.
Australian Wood Ducks are quite common in the Murray Bridge area in South Australia. They can often be seen along and near the banks of the Murray River here, as well as in pastures some distance from water. In the Adelaide Hills to the west, and in other parts of the state, this species can often be observed in grassy pastures and around farm dams.
What is unusual about my sighting this morning is that I haven’t recorded Australian Wood Ducks on my property for the last 15 years. In fact, I cannot recall ever seeing them here on my 5-acre block in over 35 years that I have lived here. My database of records only goes back to sightings since 2005. I still have many sightings from earlier years to enter on my database so I am trusting my memory on this one. And my memory is not as good as it used to be. (Sigh.)
From time to time I see Pacific Black Ducks flying overhead. Over ten years ago I also took photos of a mother Pacific Black Duck with her ducklings swimming in my swimming pool. This happened a number of times but now that I have a cover over the pool, they don’t seem to be interested in coming down for a swim.