Red-browed finches playing coy
Last month my family and I visited the Australian Reptile Park north of Sydney. As well as a great collection of reptiles the park also boasts a good collection of birds in aviaries. I have featured some of these over recent posts and have still a few more to add in the coming days.
The setting of the park near the town of Gosford is in the heart of forested areas of the Blue Mountains (part of the Great Dividing Range in eastern Australia). Because of its location the natural birdlife is quite prolific. Some of the wild birds take advantage of the food provided for some of the animals, including the caged birds.
The Red-browed finch featured in today’s photos is one such species. They were able to fly in and out through the wire of the aviary holding much larger parrots. This gave them easy access to the seed trays. It might have been easy for the birds, but taking their photo was not easy for me; I had to avoid getting the wire in the photo. Shooting through the wire of an aviary is always a challenge.
On this occasion there was an added challenge to getting these birds in focus: the finches were a little coy and keep just out of view behind the parrot feeding tray. I’m not sure if they were just a little shy, or that the parrots had spilled all the best seeds out of the tray.
A Picnic at Govett’s Leap
After our visit to Katoomba we drove on to the small town of Blackheath. We stopped there at a local bakery to buy something delicious to have for afternoon tea. We then drove a few kilometres to a picnic area and lookout known as Govett’s Leap. The most interesting feature of the lookout is the wispy waterfall shown in the photo above. The scene from the lookout is quite spectacular.
During our picnic I kept a lookout for birds of this area. This was our first visit but our son had been here before. I heard several treecreepers, probably White-throated Treecreepers, calling in the tall forest trees surrounding us. Like most of the treecreepers, I find that they are more often heard than seen.
I saw a beautiful pair of Australian King Parrots flying through the picnic area. Later additions to my bird list for the visit includedÂ several Australian Magpies and Pied Currawongs.
A small family of Australian Ravens decided to try their luck. they came very close to our picnic table looking for some tasty morsel from our afternoon tea. We didn’t oblige. Two of the birds were young ones if their begging calls were anything to go on.
It is a delightful spot and well worth visiting again. Next time I think it would be worth going on one of the walking trails branching out from the picnic grounds. This would give one a better chance of seeing far more birds.
A visit to Katoomba
On one of the days we spent in Sydney this last Christmas – New Year holidays we went as a family up into the Blue Mountains. We stopped for lunch at the village of Leura before going on a few miles to Katoomba. It is almost obligatory when passing through this area to visit Echo Point and have a look at the mountain scenery, and the Three Sisters in particular as shown in the photo above.
For those not familiar with this rocky outcrop, click on the image to enlarge it. The people half way down on the extreme left of the photo will give you an appreciation of the scale of this much photographed natural feature. As we left my son and I had a debate. What is the most photographed natural feature in Australia? For sheer numbers this lookout would have to be in the top five or ten I contended. Right up there with Uluru and Sydney Harbour.
While we were there I saw or heard very few birds. With the huge numbers of tourists present I’m not surprised. I did see several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in the valley below, a few Welcome Swallows swooping around nearby and a solitary Crested Pigeon on the lawn near the tourist centre. Near the pigeon I saw a Pied Currawong eating an apple abandoned by a tourist. This area has a very rich range of bird life; they just have the sense to keep away from the busy tourist spots.