A house of mud

Magpie lark nest in my garden

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.

Magpie Lark sitting on the nest.
Magpie Lark
Magpie Lark

More Lovebird photos

Rosy-faced Lovebird

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.

Rosy-faced Lovebird
Rosy-faced Lovebird
Rosy-faced Lovebird
Rosy-faced Lovebird

A lonely Lovebird

Rosy-faced Lovebird

I had an unusual visitor to my garden last week. I was walking out to my car in the driveway when I saw a Rosy-faced Lovebird in the tree near the car. This not an Australian native bird but it is commonly kept in cages and aviaries. I suspect that this individual has escaped from a cage somewhere nearby.

I also recorded and photographed this same species in my garden just over a year ago. There is a distinct possibility that this is the same individual though I would be surprised it this was the case. There are many birds of prey around my home and I would say that this colourful bird would be an easy lunch for a falcon, hawk or kite hovering around.

Rosy-faced Lovebird

African species

The Rosy-faced Lovebird – also known as the Peach-faced Lovebird – is native to the southwestern parts of Africa, primarily in Namibia, southern parts of Angola and north-western parts of South Africa. Its main diet consists of seeds and berries. In some areas where feed is plentiful, they can be a pest when feeding on cereal crops. Both male and female look the same.

Rosy-faced Lovebird


The Rosy-faced Lovebird is a very common bird held in captivity around the world, including here in Australia. This has resulted in enthusiasts breeding a range of colour variations.

A short visit to Royal National Park

Picnic area in Royal National Park, Sydney

After my visit to my son and family in Sydney in May of last year, I travelled south and followed the south coast of New South Wales and Victoria on my way home. As you might have gathered from my opening sentence, I am over a year behind in sharing my bird and travel photos here.

On my way south I took a detour into the Royal National Park, Australia’s first declared national park and the second oldest national park in the world. Over the many trips we have made to Sydney we have visited this park on a number of occasions. Because of its size and many and various attractions, visitors could spend many days exploring its beauties. I am sure that nearby residents have spent a lifetime enjoying its wild beauty.

Along Lady Carrington Drive, Royal National Park, Sydney

After enjoying a cuppa for morning tea I went exploring along Lady Carrington Drive. I distinctly remember my very first walk along this walking/cycle track many years ago. I was told that this was a reliable site to see Lyrebirds. Indeed, I did see a Lyrebird on the occasion, casually following me along the track. That was my very first ever sighting of the species. I was so shocked that I forgot to take a photo. On this most recent visit, I was disappointed not to have that early experience repeated.

Dusky Moorhen, Royal National Park, Sydney
Australian Magpie (juvenile black-backed), Royal National Park, Sydney

The picnic areas and walking track in this part of the park are adjacent to the Hacking River. While I was able to get a reasonable list of birds seen and heard in the area, not many of the individuals present were generous enough to come out and pose for my camera. That is why I also like to take shots of our native plants as well. They tend not to fly away while I focus my camera.

Royal National Park
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Royal National Park, Sydney
Eurasian Coot, Royal National Park, Sydney

Monarto Safari Park South Australia

Tawny Frogmouths, Monarto Safari Park

Captive birds

My local zoo is the Monarto Safari Park just fifteen minutes from my home in Murray Bridge, South Australia. This zoo is a part of the Adelaide Zoo which is about an hour’s drive from here. I am a Life Member and try to visit often. One of my recent visits was last year when I went for one of the many walks in the park. On one of these walks, there is a large aviary which has a few captive birds in it, including the Tawny Frogmouths shown above.

Tawny Frogmouths are a widespread nocturnal species in this area and it is found throughout Australia, including Tasmania. From time to time I occasionally hear or see this species in my garden. My family and I love hearing the soft call of this bird and we have fond memories of hearing and seeing them on various camping trips.

Bush Stone-curlew

Another mostly nocturnal species in the aviary at Monarto is the Bush Stone-curlew, shown in the photos below. Again, this widespread species is found in many parts of Australia except Tasmania. Campers in our more remote areas may have heard its haunting call at night. On the other hand, in some areas, the Bush Stone-curlew has adapted to life in towns and cities, especially in Queensland where it is commonly seen on golf courses and reserves.

Annoyingly, this is one species I have yet to see in its natural environment and I only have photos like those shown below which have been taken in zoos. I must get out and travel more.

Non-captive birds

As visitors to Monarto Safari Park join the many bus tours through the large park, it is possible to see many of our local native bird species. These include Emus, Australian Magpies, Little Ravens, Brown Falcons, Black Kites, Wedge-tailed Eagles, various parrot species, as well as smaller bush birds like the Willie Wagtail, woodswallows, thornbills, wrens and a variety of water birds when there is water in the creek flowing through the park.

The best way of seeing and photographing these birds is to stroll along the many walking trails through the mallee scrub land. Warning: try not to wander into the African Lion enclosure, or you might find yourself invited to lunch – with you on the menu. By the way: the zoo has four new lion cubs born only recently and they are now on display.

One easily seen species is the White-winged Chough which is about the size of our magpies and ravens. They are often seen in family groups of 10 – 15 and as they fly the white on their wings can easily be seen. On my walk to see the aviary birds I also saw one of their mud nests (see the last photo below).

Captive Bush Stone-curlew, Monarto Safari Park
Captive Bush Stone-curlew, Monarto Safari Park
Captive Bush Stone-curlew, Monarto Safari Park
Captive Bush Stone-curlew, Monarto Safari Park
Mud nest of the White-winged Chough, Monarto Safari Park