A few days ago I wrote about the small group of White-winged Choughs I watched in the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. While I was watching them digging around for food and them being most obliging to pose for my camera, the magpie in the photo above came swooping down from a nearby tree and clacked his beak. Not at me – but at the choughs. Seems that they have a little rivalry going on there. Perhaps the magpie was protecting his little patch of the gardens and didn’t want any other birds taking his food supply.
I’ve noticed a similar thing at home here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Some of the magpies, especially the males, can be very aggressive towards other species. The will fly straight at them, almost hitting them with their wings and giving loud clacking beak noises.
Another thing IÂ noticed about the magpie shown in the photo is that it looks very much like the White-backed race of Australian Magpie. Most of New South Wales has the Black-backed race except the south coast from Bateman’s Bay on towards Victoria. The distribution of the White-backed Magpies might be even broader than this as my observations in this area are quite limited.
I’d be interested in readers’ comments.
The White-winged Choughs I saw in the Australian National Botanic Gardens earlier this year are obviously used to large numbers of people visiting the gardens. They seemed quite at ease with me taking photographs of them from a few metres away.Â They were more intent on finding something to eat.
Choughs spend much of their day on the ground, scratching in the dirt or removing any mulch put there by gardeners. One of them found a buried cone from a tree and there was suddenly a great kerfuffle and they all came running to have a taste of this delicacy.
I didn’t distrub them to have a closer look at the cone, but in the photo it seems to be something like a Hakea seed cone. It could also have been a Banksia seed cone.
What is this bird?
During my visit to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra early this year I saw the bird shown in the photograph above.
Even though it is a reasonable photo, I am at a loss to determine the species. It wasÂ not happy with me being there taking a series of photos.Â I heard several others but they failed to show themselves. The photo was taken in the fern gully near the entrance to the gardens. Below I’ve included several more photos of the habitat.
At first I thought they were White-browed Scrubwrens, but the call was wrong and there is no prominent white eye-brow.
The closest I can come to identification is Large-billed Scrubwren, but that species is not listed on the bird list for the gardens. Birds Australia atlas site is no help either.
Can any one help me? Leave your suggestions in the comments, or use the contact form.
UPDATE: I put out a request on the Birding-Aus and Canberra Birds newsgroups yesterday asking for help with identification of this bird. I had about 15 people reply and all but one said it was a juvenile White-browed Scrubwren. The mystery has been solved. Thanks everyone. I’ve published some pertinent responses in the comments below.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens contain an extensive collection of Australian native plants. When these are flowering they make a wonderful display in the bushland setting. Fortunately there is always something in flower whenever you visit.
On our last visit early this year we were delighted by the extensive array of Kangaroo Paws in flower. The one shown in the photo above is Anigozanthus flavidus. The Eastern Spinebill’s loved the flowers and came frequently to feed on the nectar in the flowers. Spinebills are members of the honeyeater family of birds in Australia.
Whenever my wife and I travel interstate we look for national parks and botanic gardens to visit. Both afford excellent opportunities for us to pursue our interests. My wife is interested in Australian native plants and flowers – she has a small nursery – and I am interested in the birds that frequent such places.
On our trip through the eastern states last Christmas and New Year we visited Canberra for a short while. Our main objective was to visit the National Gallery to see the special Degas art exhibition. As important was a brief visit to the Australian National Botanic Gardens. These gardens are possibly our favourite in all that we have visited so far.
We were able to spend about three hours wandering the gardens on this occasion, not nearly enough time, granted, but we were on a tight schedule. During our stay we were entertained by a jazz group playing a variety of pieces. This, we found out, was a part of their Summer Series of concerts on Sunday evenings. Daylight Saving is ideal for such events and it proved to be very popular with many hundreds of people coming in toÂ the gardens. Fortunately the music did not deter the birds, and I was able to compile a nice list and get some interesting photos.
With so many plants in the gardens, and many of them flowering, it is not surprising to find many honeyeaters present and active. The Red Wattlebird shown in the photo above was quite unafraid of me only a few metres away; they are obviously used to people.