Sometimes birds exhibit some rather bizarre behaviours. At other times they can be rather bold and downright brave. I’ve seen the small Willie Wagtail, for example, attacking an eagle many times its own size.
I’ve come across an article on the Living the Scientific Life blog site where the story is told – with pictures to prove it – of how one pair of swallows built a nest on top of an Eagle Owl’s head. Mind you – the Owl was a plastic one designed to scare the swallows away. Its presence obviously didn’t scare the swallows one little bit. Read the full story here.
On a recent birding trip we saw several Welcome Swallows sitting on a barbed wire fence quite close to the road. I didn’t even have to get out of the car for these shots. I like this kind of photography.
It was a very windy day and these swallows were sheltering from the cold blasts of the wind. This spot was just behind an acacia (wattle) bush on the side of the road. Normally you see them gliding in the air for insects. At rest, they tend to head for power lines or phone lines but these were absent on this stretch of road. So they used the next best thing, a fence behind a bush.
Birding while doing the washing
I was hanging up the washing this morning and was aware of the many garden birds we enjoy here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Often I have stopped and listened to the birds calling. More than once I have been distracted from the task at hand and followed a bird or two – or raced inside for the camera.
Possibly one of the best sightings I’ve ever had while doing the washing was a single Stubble Quail. This is a common and widespread species in this region, but it was the only time I’ve seen one in our garden.
This morning I was suddenly aware of twittering in the sky above. Two Welcome Swallows (Hirundo neoxena) hawking for insects above. Again – this is a widespread and very common species in this area. It is not unusual to see 100s swooping low over the water of the nearby River Murray, or dozens lined up resting on power lines. What is unusual is the occurrence of this species above our garden and five acre (2 hectare) property. For some reason we only see or hear them once or twice a week, sometimes even less often. I have rarely seen more than 5 or 6 here at a time. I can’t give a reason for this.
We are staying in the caravan park next to Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor. This is just over an hour’s drive south of Adelaide, South Australia. During the night our sleep was disturbed by frequent showers. Rain on the roof of a caravan can be quite disturbing. By breakfast time the rain was quite steady.
A Walk becomes a Sit
My friend Keith and I had intended going for a walk this morning, probably around Granite Island. There is a causeway to the island and from the caravan park it takes several hours. The views are quite spectacular on the seaward side. The large waves crashing over the granite rocks would have made for some great photography. The rain did not ease until late in the morning. Instead of a walk, Keith and I sat in the van talking, having cuppas, eating chocolate cake and hot cross buns and reading the paper.
After lunch Keith and I were so exhausted from the morning’s frenetic activities that we both had to have a nap. Life’s so hard. Later we sat around talking with some of the others we knew who were staying in the same caravan park.
A Bird Walk
Late in the afternoon I went for a birdwatching walk to the beach and along the nearby river. I took my camera with me and was able to take some good shots of several species of birds and also some good shots of several yachts at anchor in the bay. Just a few metres from our van there was a small lagoon, perhaps the size of several tennis courts. This lagoon was well populated with birds feeding in, on or above it.
The most prominent species was Chestnut Teal. There were some 30-40 of them. This was a species I hadn’t managed to get photos of as yet. One photo shows three of these ducks all diving for food simultaneously; all you can see is their tails sticking up in the air. They were accompanied by about 30 Silver Gulls swimming around on the surface of the water. Hawking for insects above the water were numerous Welcome Swallows. Several Magpie Larks and a solitary White Faced Heron patrolled the water’s edge for whatever they could find to eat.
Also on the water’s edge was a single bird I couldn’t positively identify. I wouldn’t let me get close enough for a photo or a good look through my binoculars. By its shape, colour, size and habits it could possibly have been a Sharp Tailed Sandpiper.
The Inman River forms the south west boundary of the caravan park and often provides some good bird watching. Several Masked Lapwings, a few more Silver Gulls and two Wood Ducks were seen immediately. Waiting quietly near some bushes on the bank revealed some Pacific Black Ducks, Silvereyes in the bushes and I heard some Superb Blue Wrens in the nearby bushes. A Caspian Tern patrolled up and down the river while a Willie Wagtail flitted around on the lawn nearby.