A nice welcome home

Male Superb Fairy-wren

I’ve been a little quiet here over the last seven weeks. I’ve been overseas on a wonderful holiday. Stay tuned for plenty of wonderful photos of the birds of Ethiopia, Morocco and Spain in the coming months. In each country I saw about 30 species that I’d never seen before. The actual number is a bit rubbery as I’ve yet to identify some of the birds I photographed. Some long hours of interesting research ahead for me.

After a direct and very tedious journey home via Madrid, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne, we arrived at Adelaide Airport at 8am on Wednesday. Due to the blurriness of jet lag the rest of day was basically survival mode.

Thursday morning (yesterday) was a different matter. At breakfast time we had two Superb Fairy-wrens feeding in our garden, a male as shown in the photos, and a female. This species is widespread and common in our district here in South Australia, but this is the first time we’ve seen it in our garden in nearly 30 years living here. (On 5 occasions we have had Variegated Fairy-wrens visit over the same time period, the last being over 10 years ago.)

So, not only were we greeted with these lovely birds on our first day home, I was able to add a new species to our “home list”. Very nice.

Even better: they were around again this morning. I hope they find our garden enticing and decide to take up residence.

I managed only 2 photos of the male; the female was a little on the shy side and wouldn’t sit still long enough in the open for a shot.

Male Superb Fairy-wren


Bird word: Lifer

  • Lifer: the first ever time that a birder sees a species of bird it is called a “lifer”or a “tick”.

Birders are like everyone else; they love to see new things – in their case it’s new birds.

Many birders keep a life list of all the birds they have ever seen. Some of these can number in the thousands because there are potentially 9,730 birds to put on your life list (give or take a few dozen/hundred depending on which list you consult). Very few birders have reached the dizzy heights of having seen over 8000 different kinds of birds in their lifetime. And it takes a lifetime of dedication, determination, planning and quite a deal of spare time and cash. Oh – and a healthy dollop of good luck at being in the right place at the right time.

My life list is very modest; it’s in the mid 300s. I’ve not travelled extensively around the world for the purpose of birding. As a result, the chances of me seeing a “lifer” is still very high. With over 9000 species yet to see worldwide I’ll need another several lifetimes to get even near to that magical 8000 mark. Even in Australia I’ve yet to see more than half the species possible.

A “lifer” is sometimes called a “tick.” This comes from the habit of birders who make lists of species seen “ticking” off each species seen on a list.

For more articles about words associated with birds, go to my Glossary of Bird Words here.