Turkeys in the Garden

Turkey

Australian Brushturkey

I am currently in Sydney visiting family. When we speak on the phone, my grandchildren often tell me that they have just seen several Australian Brushturkeys in their garden. They live in Artarmon and they know, however, that I like to know what birds they are seeing. I guess that this is quite a common, unremarkable event for many Sydney residents. For me, however, it is quite an unusual event. I live near Adelaide in South Australia and I never get turkeys visiting my garden. On the other hand, having a kangaroo or two in my garden is not unusual.

Three visitors

Several days ago I was able to see the three visiting turkeys in the back yard. I quietly crept outside with camera in hand and managed a few good shots, some of which I have shown here today. They were quite unconcerned about my presence some ten metres away clicking on my camera.

Leaf litter

In that particular part of the garden, there are several large bushes which constantly drop their leaves. There is quite a thick layer of leaf litter underneath the bushes, and the turkeys really enjoy scratching around looking for beetles and other tasty morsels.

Turkey

Australian Brushturkey checking out a toy cement truck

While taking the photos I observed one of the birds checking out my grandson’s toy cement truck (see photo above). I am not sure what it thought of the toy but it must not have considered it to be potential food. I never saw it peck at the toy or any other toys lying nearby.

Turkey

Australian Brushturkey

On visits to Sydney, I have frequently seen Australian Brushturkeys. I have often visited the nearby Lane Cove National Park and I have seen the turkeys there strutting around looking for some handouts from picnickers, dropped scraps of food and other tasty items. I can’t ever recall seeing one sitting down like one of the visitors to the garden (see photos above and below). I guess it needed a rest after walking the nearby streets.

Turkey

Australian Brushturkey

Turkey

Australian Brushturkey

Turkey

Australian Brushturkey

Good birding,

Trevor.

 

Pied Butcherbirds

Butcherbird

Pied Butcherbird, Lake Cullulleraine

I have recently travelled from my home in Murray Bridge, South Australia to Sydney. Along the way I stopped many times to do some birding and, where possible, take some photos of the birds I saw. On the first day of my journey, I stopped for lunch at Lake Cullulleraine which is a small community on the banks of this lovely lake. It is about a half hour drive west of Mildura in the far north-western part of Victoria.

After having my lunch I slowly drove around the area adjacent to the lakeside picnic area. In this part of the small town is a well-kept football oval as well as grass tennis courts. I saw a few Red-rumped Parrots. a small group of Masked Lapwings patrolling the grass and several Australian Magpies andĀ  Magpie Larks. On the netting around the tennis courts, I saw perched an adult plumage Pied Butcherbird. This bird is the subject of today’s photos.

Grey Butcherbirds are relatively common and widespread in the area where I live. But for Pied Butcherbirds, I generally have to travel some distance north or east to see this species, though I have recorded it once just south of Murray Bridge. Grey Butcherbirds are regular visitors to my garden but I have never recorded a Pied Butcherbird at home. My records go back over 35 years. On the rest of my journey to Sydney, I saw Pied Butcherbirds frequently as I drove along. On the other hand, where I am staying in Artarmon, Sydney, I have only ever seen Grey Butcherbirds despite both species being present throughout this area. This is probably just a case of not being in the right place at the right time.

For further reading, just click on one of the bird species mentioned in this post.

Good birding,

Trevor.

Butcherbird

Pied Butcherbird, Lake Cullulleraine

Birding at Lake Cullulleraine in northern Victoria

Lake Cullulleraine, northern Victoria

In recent days I have been on the road again. This is my first major trip since October of 2018. I was on my way to Sydney to stay with family but I decided to take a completely different route this time. Normally I travel almost due east, travelling through Pinneroo, Ouyen, Balranald, Hay, Wagga Wagga and Goulburn. On this trip, I headed north from my home in Murray Bridge to Blanchetown where I crossed the Murray River.

I headed on east past Waikerie, Berri, Renmark and on towards Mildura in north-west Victoria. By the time I reached the small community of Lake Cullulleraine, it was time for a break and for lunch. Whenever I am travelling, I usually look for a good birding spot to add to my list of birds seen. This lake and the area nearby have always proved to be a satisfactory birding spot. In fact, many years ago my wife and I spent a lovely week in our old caravan here.

The lake is filled from the nearby Murray River and the whole river-lake complex is a rewarding birding area. Added to that is the farming area surrounding the lake which adds a different birding environment. Where the land is not used for agriculture, the remnant mallee scrublands provide birding experiences of yet another type.

Darter, Lake Cullulleraine

As soon as I pulled up in the car park I saw a Darter drying its wings though when I took the photo above it had closed its wings for a moment. As I was having my lunch I listed all of the other birds observed around the picnic area or on the nearby lake. The following is a list of the species seen:

  • Darter
  • Australian Raven
  • Purple Swamphen
  • Australian Wood Duck (about 60)
  • Black-tailed Native-hen
  • Noisy Miner
  • Magpie-lark
  • Apostlebird (photo below)
  • Willie Wagtail
  • Little Corella (about 30)
  • Crested Pigeon
  • Australian Pelican (one only flying overhead)
  • Eurasian Coot
  • Australian Magpie
  • Pied Butcherbird
  • Masked Lapwing
  • Red Rumped Parrot

It is not a long list but it was good to get started on listing the birds seen on my trip through South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria over the next few weeks. I will write about the birds I see on my journeys in the coming posts on this site.

Apostlebird, Lake Cullulleraine

As I prepared to leave, a small family of Apostlebirds came meandering around my car enabling me to get some good photos. They were constantly calling to each other while they scratched at the ground seeking out a few items to eat for their lunch.

Good birding,

Trevor

Birds and animals of Monarto Zoo

Giraffe in Monarto Zoo

Recently my friend Keith took me to Monarto Zoo. This open range zoo is about an hour’s drive south-east of Adelaide, South Australia and about ten minutes drive from my home. Over the years I have lived nearby I have been many times to this zoo which is a part of the larger Adelaide Zoo. My friend Keith is a volunteer guide at the zoo, so it was a different experience having my own personal guide for the day.

 

Meerkat in Monarto Zoo

On arriving at the zoo we had a look at the Meerkats and African Crested Porcupine displays near to the visitor centre. I love the Meerkats because they frequently pose so nicely for photos. In reality, they are just acting naturally, usually one or more are sentries keeping their eyes on the lookout for any danger. Some of our larger raptors such as the various hawks and eagles found in this area would happily swoop down to catch a meal.

I was also delighted to get a good photo of the African Crested Porcupine. I hadn’t realised that the two porcupines on display were present in the zoo. They are a fairly recent addition to the collection and it has been a while since my last visit.

African Crested Porcupine in Monarto Zoo

After a short wait, we caught the first bus tour of the zoo. There are two main ways of seeing the zoo; most people take a bus tour but quite a few alight from the bus at various points during the tour to walk to see various exhibits, or to walk the good walking trails throughout the zoo property. We chose to do part of the tour and then get off and walk one of the tracks leading back to the visitor centre where we had a delicious lunch. (I can recommend the salt and pepper squid – but there are many more items on the menu.)

New Holland Honeyeater in Monarto Zoo

Next to the Meerkat enclosure and near to the bus stop the keepers have several bird feeders. A quick snap of the New Holland Honeyeater (photo above) was all I could get before the bus arrived. It might be a good idea to spend some time here within camera range in order to get a variety of species visiting the feeders. Just as I was getting on the bus a small flock of about six or seven Weebills were busily feeding in a mallee tree; they were moving too quickly for a photo and were partly hidden by the foliage.

During the bus tour, I saw Australian Magpies feeding on the ground in the American Bison enclosure as well as a few Little Ravens. In the Giraffe enclosure, there were more magpies and several Masked Lapwings. Part of the way around the bus trip we got off the bus and then walked along the Ridge Track, one of the walking tracks through the zoo. This track took us close to the Black Rhino enclosure where I managed a few photos of a leucistic (white) Australian Magpie. I will write about that in another post.

As we approached the Chimpanzee complex I kept a good lookout for Superb Fairy-wrens which I had seen in the bushland nearby on a previous visit. Alas – no wrens today. After a lovely lunch from the zoo restaurant, we went on another walking trail. This was the Mallee Fowl Track and it takes walkers past a large aviary which has two captive Mallee Fowl in it. This part of South Australia still has a small population of this endangered bird and I have seen a few birds just south of the zoo. I also know of several nests in the region but I am not sure if they are still being used. Near the aviary, I tried to get photos of a male and female Red-capped Robin, but they were not cooperating. I guess that means a return visit soon.

Good birding,

Trevor

Further reading:

Some Birds of the Lane Cove National Park

Pied Currawong, Lane Cove National Park, Sydney

Over recent days I have posted some photos and articles about some of the birds I saw and photographed last month on a visit to the Lane Cove National Park in Sydney. I have visited this park on many occasions over recent years because it is only about a ten-minuteĀ drive from my son’s home.

Today I wish to post a compilation of some of my other photos taken on that visit in October. The first photo (above) is of a handsome looking Pied Currawong. This is a common and sometimes noisy bird in the park. Because of its loud, forest-penetrating call and its large size, it is quite conspicuous. At home in Murray Bridge, SA, I have the Grey Currawong as a regular visitor to my garden. Although it is also a prominent bird, it lacks the stark colours of the Pied variety.

Birds

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Lane Cove National Park, Sydney.

The quiet and unassuming Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike is another bird I have often seen in the national park. It quietly goes about its life without too much noise and fuss. Its quiet and lovely churring call is diagnostic. Although it is mostly coloured plain grey, in certain light conditions it can appear almost bluish. As a child growing up in rural South Australia I seem to remember that this species was called a ‘blue jay’ while the White-winged Chough was a ‘black jay.’ That makes a lot of sense. The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike is another regular visitor to my home garden.

Moorhen

Dusky Moorhen, Lane Cove National Park, Sydney

On my visit to the Lane Cove National Park last month I was surprised by the lack of water birds along the river. I saw a solitary Little Egret, several Pacific Black Ducks and about three Dusky Moorhens, one being shown in the photo above. I also saw several groups of Australian Wood Ducks along with a few ducklings but nothing else. No cormorants, coots, Purple Swamphens or other species of duck.

Australian Magpie (Black-backed), Lane Cove National Park, Sydney

Throughout the Lane Cove National Park, one can also observe the black-backed sub-species of the Australian Magpie. This is the common magpie around the Sydney area. At home in Murray Bridge SA, I have the White-backed Magpie as a resident breeding species in my garden. While there are magpies throughout the Sydney region, they are nowhere near as common as I am used to in the rural areas of South Australia. That is a pity because so many people are missing out on hearing the beautiful song of the magpie.

Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra, Lane Cove National Park, Sydney

My last photo today is of one of the most loved Australian Birds, the Laughing Kookaburra. Instantly recognised by most people, enjoyed by many upon hearing its hearty laughter, it is one of our iconic, much-loved national symbols.

What most people do not realise is that this seemingly delightful bird species has a darker side to it. On more than one occasion I have seen kookaburras take sausages off of a hot barbecue plate, snatch food from the picnic table at my side, defecate on a picnic table from a branch above, and generally harass picnickers for free handouts of human food.

Please don’t feed them deliberately as human food is actually detrimental to their health. Please do not feed any of our native birds and animals; it is not good for them.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Good birding.

Trevor

P.S.: I would love to hear from my readers about their close encounters with our bird species. Use the comments section below.