Australia has many colourful parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets. We frequently have small flocks on Rainbow Lorikeets and Purple-crowned Lorikeets screaming overhead and speed, their screeching can be heard for hundreds of metres.
From time to time they will land in one of our trees and feed awhile. They are notoriously hard to photograph. Their habit of often feeding in the outer foliage makes it a challenge. Despite that I have managed a few good shots over recent years.
Ricki Coughlan has written about three kinds of lorikeets in her part of the world. Her article Lorikeet Explosion has some excellent photos of lorikeets (including one of mine used with permission). She also discusses the feeding habits and preferences of lorikeets.
On the last day of our holidays in January we travelled from Gisborne just north of Melbourne to home in Murray Bridge. It was a long day of driving and I had few opportunities for birding along the way. we left our friends’ place a little later than I had hoped so we didn’t stop for morning tea. We pushed through to Ararat for lunch.
In Ararat we found a reasonable spot in the Alexandra Gardens. Here I was able to do a few minutes of birding during and after our picnic lunch. On the lake were the usual types of birds one expects in lakes in parks and gardens: Eurasian Coots, Dusky Moorhens, Pacific Black Ducks and Silver Gulls.
While we were eating a flock of about 40 Long-billed Corellas came noisily wheeling overhead and settled in the tree above us. In the distance I saw a smaller flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos winging their way slowly across town. A Laughing Kookaburra called somewhere near and Masked Lapwings could be heard calling on the adjacent sports grounds.
In the shrubbery near us several Common Blackbirds gave their warning call as I came down the path, New Holland Honeyeaters were busy feeding in the well maintained Australian native plant section of the gardens and several Striated Pardalotes called from the canopy of the trees overhead.
On our holiday earlier this year we stayed for several days with friends in Gisborne, north of Melbourne. I didn’t deliberately go our birding while there but we did go for several drives in the district and I’ll write about those in coming days.
Instead, I took note of those species I saw or heard around the garden and on a walk we did one evening. I was quite surprised by the numbers of Common Mynas now present in Gisborne. I can’t recall ever seeing so many on previous visits. On one occasion there must have been at least 30 sitting on a neighbour’s roof and fence. That is too many!
The town still has large numbers of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Long Billed Corellas. Several times I heard a small flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flying over. Crimson Rosellas (photo) are also quite common in the area, but I can’t recall seeing or hearing any lorikeets or Galahs on this visit. They must have been around, but I didn’t record any this time.
The common garden birds, apart from the mynas, included House Sparrows, Common Blackbirds, Australian Magpies, Red Wattlebirds and New Holland Honeyeaters. Interestingly, the Mynas seem to have replaced the Common Starling.
I also saw a small flock of thornbills moving through the garden. None would give me a good enough look to positively ID them. They might have been Little Thornbills, but I can’t be sure.
During our holiday in January earlier this year, one of our longest days of travelling was to go from Mallacoota in the far south east of Victoria all the way to Gisborne north of Melbourne. We were on the road all day with just short breaks for morning tea and lunch. There was little time for birding except for those short stops.
After morning tea at Orbost we headed on west towards Melbourne, travelling through picturesque Lakes Entrance and Bairnsdale. I didn’t bother keeping a list of birds seen along the road; there weren’t all that many to see because by mid morning it was getting rather warm. I was hoping to reach Sale for lunch, but we made only as far as Stratford on the River Avon (no -not THAT one – this one’s in Australia). This is Ben Cruachan country but for the second time in little over twelve months, we didn’t have time to call in on Duncan. Pity about that. (Keep the billy boiling, Duncan.)
At Stratford we found a suitable, albeit rather warm, picnic area for lunch. I managed a short list of birds during our short stay, including Common Starling, Willie Wagtail, House Sparrow, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Spotted Turtledove and Rainbow Lorikeet. Nothing to get terribly excited about.
Probably the most common birds around were the Common Mynas which seemed to be everywhere. Pity about that.
This whole area is yet another place I’d like to explore further over a week or two, and not just drive through. It wasn’t long before we were scooting along quickly on the freeway heading into Melbourne, then on the City Link and on towards our friend’s place in Gisborne. In all the times we’d travelled this route in recent years, this was the quickest and most trouble free. We actually arrived in Gisborne a little ahead of schedule.
It was a wearying day with long hours in the car and little opportunity for birding. Some days are like that.
One of the frustrations I felt on our holiday in New South Wales earlier this year was the lack of time to do some serious birding as we went along. We were on a tight time schedule because our daughter had to return home to go to work. It was great spending three weeks with our adult daughter, but the birding was limited. Despite that I did get to see a good list of birds and I also found some excellent spots to return to later when we are less rushed.
We travelled down the south coast of New South Wales from Bateman’s Bay to Mallacoota in Victoria. On the way we passed through the beautiful towns of Narooma, Bermagui, and Merimbula, all worthy of a stay for a week, not just a quick drive through.
Upon reaching the port of Eden we did stop for about a half hour. We found a picnic area with a great view out over the beach and bay, as shown in the photos on this page.
From our picnic spot we saw Silver Gulls and Whiskered Terns flying along the beach or just out a short way into the bay. A small flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew over head heading for the nearby coastal forest. Red Wattlebirds and Silvereyes were feeding in the bushes near our picnic spot and a family of cheeky Superb Fairy-wrens came close enough for a few good photos. The full coloured male came up close and posed for me.
On the way through the town I was able to add Galah, House Sparrow and Rock Dove to my list. This area is well worth another, longer, visit sometime in the near future.