A gathering of magpies

Australian Magpie, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Australian Magpie, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Last weekend we went to Victor Harbor on the south coast of Fleurieu Peninsula, about an hour’s drive south of Adelaide and just over an hour from home here in Murray Bridge. we took the caravan and stayed with a group of friends in one of the lovely caravan parks in the town.

On the Sunday afternoon my friend Rod, who lives in Victor Harbor, took us on a cruise in his 1928 A model Ford. It was a great – though little breezy – drive. He and his wife Jan took a picnic basket and we had a wonderful cuppa and nibbles part way up The Bluff. as we were having our cuppa a family of Australian Magpies joined us. They were probably expected some tasty handouts from us picnickers. Sadly, they went without a tidbit.

One of the interesting things was the presence of several juveniles, still in their downy plumage and still very much in begging mode as the parents tried to satisfy their needs. The breeding season is well and truly over, but the juveniles will continue to beg for food for many months after leaving the nest.

Australian Magpie (juvenile), Victor Harbor, South Australia

Australian Magpie (juvenile), Victor Harbor, South Australia

Australian Magpies, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Australian Magpies, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Australian Magpies, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Australian Magpies, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Baby Emus come to drink

Male Emu with babies, Monarto Zoo, South Australia

Male Emu with babies, Monarto Zoo, South Australia

I meant to publish this post and the photos several months ago, but I was distracted when writing my novel.

When my son, daughter-in-law and new grandson came over from Sydney for a visit last August we all visited the Monarto Zoo just a few kilometres from our home in Murray Bridge (near Adelaide).

As we were going on one of the walking trails through the zoo we saw this male Emu with his young striped chicks. They had come into one of the watering points near the Visitor Centre. Emus are unusual in the bird kingdom: the female lays the eggs and then the male sits on them and looks after the hatchlings for up to two years. I think that female Emus certainly have it all worked out where family raising is concerned.

Male Emu with babies, Monarto Zoo, South Australia

Male Emu with babies, Monarto Zoo, South Australia

Pacific Black Ducklings pay us a visit

A few weeks ago I wrote about a pair of Pacific Black Ducks mating in our swimming pool. We have been waiting expectantly ever since for the arrival of a little band of ducklings. They usually head for our swimming pool, and then can’t get out again.

This has happened every year now for about 6 or 7 years. It’s possibly the same pair each year. Despite thorough searches we have been unable to locate the actual nest on every occasion. One of the problems they face is once they get into the pool, they are unable to get out. Very soon they can die of either hypothermia or drown (because their feathers are not yet water repellent).

To cater for this problem we have made a wooden framed ramp covered with wire netting. We usually throw an old towel over the netting and it doesn’t take the ducklings long to find out that this is a way out of the water.

This year it was a little different. Mother duck headed off across our small paddock with four ducklings in tow. One poor little fellow missed the on ramp and swam under it, causing him to be separated from his siblings. Trevor came to the rescue. While my wife watched the family movements I managed to scoop up the lost baby and then run after the mother and the other ducklings carrying the almost abandoned duckling.  Soon they were reunited and on their way.

Not sure if they headed for the River Murray some 4 kilometres away, or stopped over at a storm water drainage dam about a kilometre over the paddock.

With all the excitement of the rescue attempt, I didn’t get a photo!


Baby Willie Wagtails come out to feed

Baby Willie Wagtails just out of their nest

Baby Willie Wagtails just out of their nest

I never did find where our resident pair of Willie Wagtails were nesting recently. Yesterday, however, I found the three lovely babies huddled together on a fence post. They looked as if they were just out of the comfort of their nest.

Baby Willie Wagtails just out of their nest and being fed.

Baby Willie Wagtails just out of their nest and being fed.

Of course – the parents didn’t like me getting too close and so I received a severe telling off as I was taking their photo.

Next time I probably should get the parents to sign a model release form – then they might be happier.

Adult Willie Wagtail warning me to keep my distance from the babies.

Adult Willie Wagtail warning me to keep my distance from the babies.

White-winged Choughs feeding young

White-winged Chough with young

White-winged Chough with young

Over recent weeks the flock of White-winged Choughs that frequently visit our garden have been largely absent. A few days ago I found out why.

They’ve been nesting somewhere nearby – but far away enough not to attract my attention. Now every time they pass through looking for a feed (and disturbing the Australian Magpies into the bargain) they have several young ones¬† to feed, their begging calls making sure they aren’t forgotten.

White-winged Chough

White-winged Chough