Over many weeks during November I’ve been outside quite a bit of each day. I have been trying to tame the garden and the rest of our 5 acre block of land. The Estate has been neglected over the last few years but I am finally getting on top of things.
While outside I tend to be more aware of the birds around the house and in the surrounding scrub. During my weeding, cleaning and mowing I’ve been aware on many occasions of small flocks of 10 – 20 woodswallows hawking for insects while on the wing on high. I wouldn’t have noticed them but for their calls which are quite distinctive and tend to carry far.
All those I saw were far too high for a photo; I could barely see them without binoculars, but I think they were Dusky Woodswallows. Besides, I didn’t have my camera at the ready. Instead, I have shown a photo above of one taken back in October when we took my grandson to Cleland Wildlife Park in the Mt Lofty Ranges near Adelaide. As the photo shows, this was of a captive bird in a walk through aviary.
Beware – the hazards of birding
I went for my morning walk before breakfast today. I generally follow the same route along a side road next to our property. The birding was quite good, despite the cool, overcast conditions. It was threatening to rain and I actually felt a few drops as I walked along.
Near the end of my route where I turn around and retrace my steps home I saw a dead Brown Snake on the road. It had been reasonably warm the day before, so I guessed that was when it came to grief. Although it’s not a busy road, large trucks come long it several times a day so it’s possible that one of them ran over it.
Although it is only a few weeks into spring, the snakes are on the move – and probably hungry after their winter hibernation. Brown Snakes are relatively common around here but they tend to keep out of our way by choice, so we only ever see one or two every year, usually dead specimens like the one I saw this morning.
The photo above is of an Inland Taipan (I think I read the label correctly) taken yesterday on our family visit to the Cleland Wildlife Park near Adelaide. The Brown Snake found around here is somewhat similar in appearance. Both are quite venomous so I treat any encounter with caution.
More than once I’ve almost stepped on a snake while birding, and on one infamous occasion actually had one slither over my boot. Now that’s observing our wildlife just a little too closely.
Just so my loyal readers are not disappointed, I’ve included a photo of some birds taken yesterday.
Cape Barren Goose, Adelaide Zoo
The Cape Barren Goose is locally abundant in its range but it has quite a limited range. Total numbers of this species would have to be about 10,000 so, although not endangered, it could be regarded as vulnerable.
This goose is found in coastal areas of South Australia, Victoria and in Tasmania. It breeds on the islands of Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. There is an isolated population at Esperance in Western Australia.
During spring and summer it disperses to the mainland to feed on cultivated pastures, near wetlands and in grasslands. About a twenty minute drive south of where I live there are several large dairies. These have irrigated pastures (mainly clover and lucerne) which attract this species in large numbers. I’ve counted over 500 on several occasions.
The photo below was taken of a captive bird at the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia.
This article was updated in August 2015.
Peaceful Dove in our garden
Last week I heard the lovely sound of a Peaceful Dove in our garden. I went chasing after it with my camera but it wouldn’t sit still long enough or in good light for me to get a good shot of it. So I’ve had to use several photos taken several years ago in a walk through aviary at Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills.
While this dove is common and widespread in our district they don’t seem to come into our garden all that often. We usually hear and see the resident Spotted Turtledoves and Crested Pigeons every day, but this beautiful bird seems to be a little shy about staying around for very long. Because of this we are always delighted when we hear its soft call in the trees near the house, and even more delighted when it comes close enough to see.
A few minutes ago I had occasion to go outside. I needed a break from my writing and I needed to attend to something before the coming rain storm arrived. Of course I didn’t think I’d see anything unusual while outside so I didn’t take the binoculars.
Murphy’s Law and all that.
A small flock of about twenty woodswallows flew overhead giving their characteristic calls. Not totally sure but they were probably Dusky Woodswallows as that is the main species in this family we get around here. We don’t have them overhead all that often, and when they do come they rarely stay more than a few minutes before flying on. Even less often do they settle. For this reason I haven’t taken all that many photos of this species. The one featured above was taken inside a large aviary at Cleland Wildlife Park. The one below was taken some years ago just up the road – on one of the rare occasions when one perched for me in camera range.