A few days ago I wrote about two juvenile Nankeen Kestrels chasing after one of their parents, begging for food as they flew overhead. I been observing this family of birds ever since and have seen them land frequently on some nearby power poles. From the decorations on the post and cross rail, they use this viewing platform frequently. It gives an excellent view of the road and of the paddocks on either side of the road. It also has a good view of our mallee scrub.I hope they are catching plenty of the local mice.
Earlier last week I was having a mid morning coffee and doing a spot of reading in the lovely winter sun. I heard the plaintive begging call of one of the young and saw that it had landed in the favoured power pole. I had my camera at the ready and stalked through the trees to get a closer view – and hopefully a good photo.
I’m quite pleased with the results, as shown on this post.I didn’t manage to get the adults actually feeding the young because the one I did get was becoming agitated by my presence, so I backed off so it could feed in peace.
I had to admit to my wife last week that I really enjoy hanging out the washing.
The reason is simple: it gets me outdoors, eyes cast skywards. Some of my best birding moments have occurred while hanging out the washing.
Last week was one of those moments. I had barely commenced when my attention was caught by a bird of prey high in the sky. It was obviously an eagle, slowly riding the air currents and circling overhead. I raced inside for the binoculars, sure that it was a Wedge-tailed Eagle. A more passes overhead confirmed my first identification.
This magnificent raptor – our largest bird of prey – is widespread all over Australia. It is widespread in our region too, but not common. Their territories are often huge, and they soar for many kilometres each day searching for their food. Despite them being relatively common in our region, this is only the third time in over 25 years I’ve observed one over our property. I need to get outdoors more often!
The nest of the Wedge-tailed Eagle consists of many sticks and twigs and can be reused many times in the lives of a pair. They will often refurbish the original nest, adding many more sticks until the structure is huge, sometimes large enough for a human adult to lie down in. The nearest nest I know of is about 20km NW of home near the Mannum waterfalls reserve.
Black Kites are very common birds of prey throughout their range which includes Africa, Eurasia and most of Australia (except Tasmania). I have seen them in many places here in Australia and this species is also on my Thailand and Nepal lists. It is a bird that is hard to miss.
Strangely enough, even though they are regular visitors to our home block – or should I say, birds that regularly fly over our block – I had not managed to get a good photo of one. They are usually too high up for a good shot as they soar overhead.
On a recent visit to our local open range zoo, Monarto Zoo, a solitary Black Kite came down close overhead and soared around several times checking us out. It was a good opportunity to get a reasonable photo.
A few weeks ago we went with our family to visit Monarto Zoo near our home town of Murray Bridge. This open range zoo is a part of the Adelaide Zoological Gardens and being only a few kilometres down the road from our home we like to visit often. Being a Life Member I like to visit often.
One of the features of the zoo is the large tract of untouched mallee scrub where visitors can walk on the numerous walking trails leading from one enclosure to another. The regular shuttle buses moving around the zoo make this a very attractive part of the visit. All tracks are easily negotiated, even by wheelchair.
Walking through the mallee scrub is a good way to observe many of the local bird species abundant in the area. On this visit I had great views of this Brown Falcon. Normally a reasonable shy bird, this individual decided to pose nicely for a few photos.
Common Starlings are not my favourite birds.
In fact, here in Australia they are considered a pest, especially by fruit growers and people who have a few fruit trees in their back yard. A small flock can completely ruin a crop of apricots in a few hours, for example.
There is a wider environmental issue to also consider. Common Starlings are often found in flocks of hundreds and even number in the tens of thousands in fruit growing areas. Large flocks like this feed on the crops when they are ripe; for the rest of the year they are seriously depleting food sources of many of our native species. Even worse is the fact that they use tree hollows for their nests, thus denying native birds precious nesting sites. They are also very messy in their nesting habits, fouling the hollows to the point where only Starlings will reuse the hollow.
Last night I was at an outdoor function being conducted by our church. We hold this event on Sunday evenings every year in JanuaryÂ in the town sound shell. Despite the very loudly amplified music the birding was spectacular. Not many species flew over, mind you, but one incident involving a Common Starling really caught my attention.
Two Australian Hobbies (Little Falcons) live around the CBD and I’ve seen them soaring around the area on a number of occasions. One of them zoomed past the sound shell at great speed heading for some trees in the park opposite. It did a few loops around a tall pine tree disturbing a Common Starling in the process which sped of in the opposite direction, hotly pursued by the falcon. Both disappeared behind a building. I hope that the falcon caught his supper.