Noisy Miner up close

Noisy Miner, Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan

I am currently staying with my son and family in Sydney. Before arriving at his home I spent a few hours taking photographs and doing some birding in the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan. These beautiful gardens are situated in the south-west of Sydney. The plants are certainly worth seeing, especially in spring when so many are in full bloom. The birding is also very rewarding.

While I was taking plenty of photos of the many plants in flower (see photos below), I came across a very cooperative Noisy Miner. It was busily feeding on the nectar in one of the plants and was certainly unconcerned that I was barely a metre away, snapping away with my camera. It certainly makes bird photography easy when you get cooperative birds like this one. It is generally a very bold species, quite accustomed to being in contact with humans.

Food

The Noisy Miner is a member of the honeyeater family of birds. They usually feed on nectar which is generally in plentiful supply in our Australian native plants. They will also eat fruit and insects.

Habitat and distribution

Noisy Miners are a common species found throughout eastern Australia from northern Queensland through much of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. They are also present in Tasmania. They are found in open bushland, woodlands and forests. They have adapted well to life in parks and gardens in urban areas, often supplanting our smaller birds species through their aggressive nature. They are bold enough to take on much larger birds like magpies and ravens.

Further reading:

Rainbow Lorikeet in the “Moonlight”

Australian Museum article on the Noisy Miner

Noisy Miner, Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan
Noisy Miner, Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan
Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan
Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan
Grevillea, Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan
Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan

Strange Swamphen Behaviour

Purple Swamphen – Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan

On my visit to the Australian Botanic Gardens in Mount Annan, SW Sydney last week I was surprised by the behaviour of the Purple Swamphen shown in the photo above. It didn’t seem to mind me walking past only a few metres away, nor was it concerned by the lady sitting at a picnic table about ten metres away.

I am not used to seeing Swamphens sitting down in this manner except when they are sitting to hatch their eggs. It almost looked as if it was in the process of actually hatching its eggs. Or was it just having a little rest? Normally, I am used to seeing Purple Swamphens strutting along elegantly on their long legs, rarely hurried and quite at ease with the world.

My error

There are two major flaws in my idea that it was preparing a nest, or sitting on eggs.
1. Swamphens usually make a nest in a stand of reeds, treading on them to make a flat platform on which they make a nest.
2. When I went past this spot some twenty minutes later, the bird had moved on.

I guess it really was just enjoying a quiet rest in a comfortable spot.

Further reading:

Article on the Birdlife Australia site
Article on the Australian Museum site
Purple swamphens at Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge
Preening his feathers

Purple Swamphen

Rainbow Lorikeet in the “Moonlight”

Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on Grevillea “Moonlight”

Last week I travelled from my home in Murray Bridge, South Australia, to Sydney to visit family for a few weeks. On the last day of my trip, I had a few spare hours, so I decided to visit the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mouth Annan. These magnificent gardens are in the south-west edge of the greater metropolitan Sydney area.

My wife and I had previously visited these gardens in December 2013 and we always wanted to make a return visit. Being the beginning of spring here in Australia it was an ideal time to visit. I mainly went to photograph the flowers, but it is also a great place to see and photograph some of our Australian native birds.

Just as I was about to leave, I passed a magnificent Grevillea “Moonlight” which is a cultivar, believed to be a hybrid of two other Grevillea species. This amazing plant was a significant tree some 5-6 metres tall and 6-7 metres wide. It was completely covered by brilliant white flowers. The local Rainbow Lorikeets were having a feast on the nectar.

The individual shown in today’s photographs was a very obliging bird, seemingly posing for my camera. In reality, however, it was either very hungry or totally hooked on the sweet nectar in the flowers. I was able to take a series of close up shots and it was totally oblivious of my presence. I love moments like this when I can take multiple photos of the same bird.

Below I have included a series of the best shots taken on my visit to the garden.

Further reading:

Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan

Lots and lots of Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeets

Close views of Musk Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

Baby Babblers

White-browed Babbler

Over recent weeks there has been a family of White-browed Babblers (see photo above) constantly moving around my garden and five-acre block of land. I live on the edge of the rural city of Murray Bridge, an hour’s drive SE of Adelaide, South Australia.

I find that this species is an endearing one, with their constant hopping around on the ground, scratching at the dirt, or prying under the bark of the mallee trees surrounding my home. They move around in small family groups of four to six individuals, sometimes more. As they move around searching for tasty snacks such as beetles and caterpillars and insects, they keep up a regular mewing call, like miniature demented cats.

I suspected that they were nesting somewhere, but a search of the bushes where I had seen them flying to were bare of any nests. I thought that might have been keeping the site of a nest as secret as possible. This was good news because I occasionally see a feral cat moving about the property. I discourage cats from moving about nearby by chasing them off, usually followed by a stone thrown at them. They don’t know that they are really in no danger; my stone-throwing abilities are somewhat deficient.

A few mornings ago I went to get something from the garage. As I opened up the door, I was aware of a frantic fluttering nearby. This was followed by several plaintive cheeps something like the call of the babblers. I looked over the nearby fence. Two recently fledged baby babblers were clinging on to the wire of the fence, flapping their wings and trying not to get blown away by the strong wind.

It was obvious that they had only a short time before left the nest. Their tails had not fully grown and they had trouble balancing on the shaking fence wire. I can’t show you a photo because I didn’t have my camera with me. They only lingered there for a few seconds before launching into a haphazard flight path away from where I stood. I hope that they soon adapt to their new freedom.

Further reading:

White-browed babblers building a nest

White-browed Babblers and water

A raft of rosellas

An Adelaide Rosella in my garden.
An Adelaide Rosella in my garden.

Earlier this week I spotted several birds coming in to land on the swimming pool cover in my garden. I keep the cover on the pool during the winter months to stop twigs from nearby trees falling into the water. The cover also stops excessive evaporation of the water.

During recent months, however, the winter rains have been quite good here where I live in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Other regions have been in serious drought conditions. Whenever it rains, small, shallow puddles of water gather on top of the pool cover. These pools are very inviting to the local birds and any others passing by.

When I stealthily crept closer to the pool I discovered three Adelaide Rosellas had landed on the pool cover and they were having a lovely time splashing around in the shallow pools of water. I crept quietly back into the house to get my camera, but by the time I came out again they were ready to leave. I didn’t get a chance to take some photos.

When I first moved to my home on the western edge of town over 30 years ago, I never recorded Adelaide Rosellas in my garden. Over the last ten to 15 years, their visits have become more and more frequent. Sometimes several months go by without sighting them, and then I will see some several months in a row. I guess you could say that their visits are somewhat sporadic. I certainly cannot call them a resident species like the Mallee Ringnecks which are always around somewhere on my five-acre block.

The Adelaide Rosella is a sub-species of the Crimson Rosella, common here in the southern parts of South Australia, as well as throughout the eastern states. I have also seen the Yellow Rosella nearby, another sub-species.

Because I didn’t get a chance to get a photo of the three visitors this week, I have used a photo of one taken some years ago (see above).