One of the interesting birds I saw last December during my stay with my daughter in Addis Ababa was the Wattled Ibis. It was the only species of ibis I saw during my short visit despite the fact that 7 different species can be found in Eastern Africa.
The birds in these photos were taken along the river which flows along one boundary of the school campus where we were staying. Only in the last photo on this page can you easily see the wattle hanging from the throat of the birds. The Wattled Ibis is a bird of the highlands in Ethiopia – usually above 1500 metres – and is quite common. It has also been recorded in nearby Eritrea. While I only saw two birds at a time it is commonly seen in medium sized flocks of 20 – 100.
When feeding it will walk along slowly, prodding the ground for insects, worms, beetles and will take frogs, mice and even small snakes.
The Straw-necked Ibis is a very common bird in the Murray Bridge district of South Australia where I live. I have seen flocks numbering in the hundreds flying overhead, and sometimes smaller flocks land to feed in the open paddock opposite our home. On the odd occasion a few will even land on our five acre block.
It is strange then that I did not have a good close-up photo of this species to show here – until last week when I visited Adelaide Zoo and got the above shot in the walk-through aviary. That’s bird photography for you. I have photos of species I never expected to get, and none of some common species. [Sigh]
The Straw-necked Ibis is a widespread species in northern and eastern Australia and is expanding its range in Western Australia and Tasmania. Within its range it is found in freshwater and saline wetlands, tidal mudflats and swamps. It has adapted to life in pastures and other irrigated areas, lawns, ovals, public parks and gardens.
My wife and I join a friend on a morning walk every weekday. On our way home we pass a small dam about half a kilometre from our home. This dam was constructed on a vacant block of land by our local council several years ago. It stores storm water from the nearby streets. Some areas near here have a flood mitigation problem only discovered about five years ago during an extremely heavy downpour one afternoon. The council workers pump water from this dam to use in watering street trees and to dampen road works where necessary.
I’ve kept an eye on this small reservoir ever since it first contained water. Generally all I see is a few Pacific Black Ducks, Straw-necked Ibis and a collection a Masked Lapwings (which have been seen breeding there). Welcome Swallows are also regular visitors, and I am sure the local population of White-winged Choughs use the wet mud on the edge of the water to construction their mud nests. One one occasion I also saw several Black-tailed Native-hens.
A few mornings ago I was surprised to see several Black Swans gracing the water. This species is not all that common around here, though I have seen several recently at the nearby Rocky Gully Wetlands, about three kilometres to the east.
One day I will get around to making a list of all the species I’ve seen in this dam.
And then I will need to find a way of encouraging the swans to fly over our land so I can count them on my garden list.
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.