A cold, almost non-birding experience
On the last leg of our recent holiday to Yorke Peninsula we stopped briefly at the Hale Conservation Park between Williamstown and Mt Pleasant in the Adelaide Hills. It was late afternoon, cloudy, occasional showers and bitterly cold. We stopped for a quick snack and a cup of tea – to warm us up.
As we pulled up and emerged from the car, the surrounding bushland was quiet – too quiet. I not only couldn’t see any birds, there seemed to be a total silence from the resident bird life. I’ve only ever experienced this on one of two occasions before. I’ve found that almost anywhere one stops on rural roads in Australia, there will be at least some birds to be seen and/or heard. One one memorable occasion some years ago when I was gathering data for the Atlas of Australian Birds I had to submit a blank sheet; no birds in a 20 minute period. Mind you, it rained heavily during the period concerned so I was pushing the limits.
After a few frustrating – and cold – minutes waiting for something to call or appear, a small group of White-throated Treecreepers came into the car park and starting searching the bark on surrounding trees in their normal behaviour. Treecreepers and Sittellas always fascinate me with their ability to hop up and down and even underneath the trunks and branches of trees. Why don’t they sometimes fall off??
I had my camera ready, but the poor light conditions so late on a cloudy day meant I was pushing the limits trying to get photos. I would like to have used the flash, but they were too far away for that. The photos are not brilliant; they are the best I could achieve in the conditions.
Peaceful Dove in our garden
Last week I heard the lovely sound of a Peaceful Dove in our garden. I went chasing after it with my camera but it wouldn’t sit still long enough or in good light for me to get a good shot of it. So I’ve had to use several photos taken several years ago in a walk through aviary at Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills.
While this dove is common and widespread in our district they don’t seem to come into our garden all that often. We usually hear and see the resident Spotted Turtledoves and Crested Pigeons every day, but this beautiful bird seems to be a little shy about staying around for very long. Because of this we are always delighted when we hear its soft call in the trees near the house, and even more delighted when it comes close enough to see.
I took this photo several months ago at the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills. The Darter is an interesting bird, widespread over much of Australia without being common anywhere. It is occasionally found in Tasmania and New Zealand. It is also present in Africa, southern Asia and Papua New Guinea.
Another common name for the Darter is Snake Bird. If one approaches one sitting on a log or branch it will writhe its neck in a snake like manner. Like cormorants, the Darter needs to regularly leave the water and sit on a log, rock, branch or navigation piles in order to dry its wings. The one in the photograph above was sitting on a log on the side of the path, only two metres from me. Being a captive bird it was very used to having people quite close.
The Darter can be found in or along rivers, creeks, lakes, swamps, lagoons, reservoirs and estuaries but rarely in open sea. It can be found in both salt and fresh water. In my home district it is found right along the River Murray and although widespread it is present in only small numbers, usually one or two.
For more information:
- Birds in Backyards – facts about the Darter.
- Australia Zoo – look for the down loadable PDF file on this species.
Great Birding Moments # 26 Red Browed Finch
The Red Browed Finch is one of many beautiful species of finch found in Australia. It is always a delight to find a group of finches feeding on the grass, drinking from a pond or bird bath or visiting one’s garden. This species is found along the east coast through to much of Victoria and south eastern South Australia.
Locally, we do not have them here in Murray Bridge but they are widespread in the nearby Adelaide Hills and part of the Adelaide metropolitan area. My most recent sighting of this delightful species was on a visit to the Cleland Wildlife Park. As I was about to enter one of the walk through aviaries I was entranced by a large group, perhaps as many as 30, Red Brows coming to a feeding tray. There was much excitement, because the feeding tray had just been replenished by the keeper.
On entering the aviary there were many more inside the cage. These were also quite used to people visiting their home so is was quite easy to take some good photos.
- Cleland Wildlife Park – photos of a visit to this lovely place in the Adelaide Hills.
Update: this photo above – and many other photos featured on this site – can now be purchased on a range of merchandise such as T-shirts, aprons, wall plaques, clocks and mugs. Go to my Trevor’s Photos site here.
Grey Currawongs are widespread throughout the area where I live in South Australia but they are not common anywhere except perhaps in the Adelaide Hills. Around home here in Murray Bridge their preferred habitat is mallee scrubland. There are still a few remnant patches of scrub ranging from a few hectares to several hundred hectares. In addition, there is a significant amount of remnant mallee scrub that makes up the roadside vegetation in this district. These remnant habitats are probably very important to the Grey Currawong’s continued existance in the mallee areas of our state.
Unlike the Pied Currawong in other parts of Australia, the Grey Currawong here is not an urban dweller. It was with a little surprise then that last week I saw a group of three currawongs in a park next to one of the factories here in Murray Bridge. This park is surrounded on all sides by either light industrial establishments or low density housing.
Perhaps they are moving from the bush to become “townies”.