Magpies merrily carolling

Australian Magpie near Geranium, South Australia

Australian Magpie near Geranium, South Australia

Last Friday I was able to do some birding near Geranium in the mallee district east of home here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. I pulled off the main highway on to a side track (see photo below) and found a good spot for lunch. I’d been on this bush track many times before and knew that the birding can be quite good in this quiet spot.

While I was eating lunch I had good views of a male Superb Fairy-wren nearby. Just as I finished lunch I could hear a group of Australian Magpies carolling about 40 metres away. This singing increased in volume to the point where I just had to check it out. I estimate there were about 20 magpies in the one tree, all calling loudly. Their song filled the air all around. I then glanced over into the paddock adjacent to the tree. There were magpies everywhere.

A quick scan of the paddock with my binoculars revealed about another 60 magpies¬† feeding in the grass. I’ve never seen such a large congregation of Australian Magpies anywhere before. There are records in the literature of large loose flocks of over 100 birds, but this was my first encounter with such large numbers.¬† Truly spectacular.

Bush track through mallee scrub near Geranium, South Australia

Bush track through mallee scrub near Geranium, South Australia

Superb Fairy-wren, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Male Superb Fairy-wren, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Male Superb Fairy-wren, Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Any visitor to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra should aware of the many Superb Fairy-wrens present in the gardens. They seem to be everywhere.

But just because they are everywhere does not necessarily mean that they are easy to photograph! The male in the photo above gave a few minutes of excitement but wouldn’t sit still long enough and in sunlight to get a good shot of him. Never mind. I managed a better shot later in the week (I’ll post that in a few days time.)

Superb Fairy-wrens are one of our most spectacularly beautiful birds. They also happen to be one of our most recognisable species too, as they seem to love gathering where people get together – in parks, zoos, gardens, picnic areas and so on. And they have become relatively tame in many places, affording the keen photographer many opportunities for that great shot.

It’s just that this little fellow decided to tease me. Oh well – there’s always next time.

Flowers, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Flowers, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra