The Buff-banded Rail is normally a reasonably shy bird, preferring to skulk around in dense vegetation on the margins of rivers, lakes, dams, wetlands and swamps. On a few occasions, however, I have managed good views and excellent photos of this species where they are very accustomed to people being around. The bird in the photo above was a captive bird, taken while visiting one of the walk-through aviaries at Adelaide Zoo.
On another occasion I was surprised and delighted to see one wandering around my feet in a picnic ground in the Lower Glenelg River National Park in far south western Victoria. That was before I had a good digital camera, so no photos of that one. More recently I managed several excellent photos of this species while visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. The photo below shows one shot of this bird which casually strolled along the path in front of us. This section of the gardens is visited by thousands of people daily, so it was not at all concerned by my camera and its flash. It had been eating some melting chocolate that had fallen from someone’s ice-cream. I hope this was not a regular part of its diet!
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
2007 New South Wales trip report #27
One of our favourite places to visit in Sydney is the Royal Botanic Gardens right in the heart of the city. We caught the train from the nearby station and alighted at Circular Quay station. It is then only a short ten minute walk to the gardens.
On arrival we found a seat to use while eating our lunch. After lunch we spent the afternoon wandering the gardens. My wife was pleased to find a few Australian native plants in flower and these occupied her and her camera for quite a while.
The bird life in the gardens is abundant in numbers without being over abundant in the number of species. Numerous White Ibis dominated the scene, many making quite a noise as the squabbled over nesting sites in the trees. Many were seen carrying nesting materials. Noisy Miners were also common and I think some were feeding young in the nest. I saw several Australian Magpies and Australian Ravens and one Pied Currawong. Welcome Swallows swooped over head while Rock Doves strutted amongst the crowds gathered to enjoy the gardens and the sunny weather.
In the middle of the park there are several shallow ponds. I saw several Little Black Cormorants there, as well as Pacific Black Ducks, several strange hybridized ducks, a number of Dusky Moorhens and several Silver Gulls over the adjacent bay. As we were leaving I saw a single Masked Lapwing.
Probably the highlight of the afternoon was the photos I was able to take of a Buff-banded Rail on one of the footpaths. This usually shy and secretive species has adapted well to the hoards of people who come through the park daily. It showed no nervousness as it wandered around my feet as I photographed it. Last year I was very upset that the batteries in my camera failed only minutes before seeing this species. Now I have several good shots of it.
The second highlight was seeing a small flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos feeding on the lawns. I was able to get good shots of this species as they wandered around only two metres from me. A group of German tourists ignored the signs encouraging people not to feed the birds. One paid the price and was bitten on the arm.
On our return to the railway station via the Sydney Opera House precinct I was able to get some good shots of the setting sun lighting up both the opera house and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was a pleasing conclusion to a relaxing holiday in this beautiful city.
Tomorrow we head off to the nation’s capital, Canberra.